It was no secret that patience was razor thin heading into the 2022-23 season for the Nashville Predators considering what looked like significant upgrades to the roster over the offseason.
Head Coach John Hynes is bearing the brunt of the frustration from fans as the Nashville Predators have fallen to 3-6-1 and lost seven of their last eight games.
We’re not just at a boiling point 10 games in, but the water is literally spilling over with no solution in sight after the Predators suffered another ugly defeat by a 7-4 final score to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
The Predators added what I like to call “stat padding” goals throughout the game, but they were never really legitimate threats to the Oilers. They were toying with this team, and all Hynes could do is lament at the referees about power plays:
Hynes’ Seat Gets Warmer after Oilers Homecoming Night against Preds
Sadly, this game felt more like an Edmonton Oilers Homecoming Night than an NHL hockey game. Sure, the Predators managed to make it a 5-3 game with over 15 minutes left in regulation, but the comeback fizzled out pretty quickly.
We now have to seriously start wondering if Hynes makes it into 2023 as the head coach of the Nashville Predators. How much patience does the front office and General Manager David Poile have for this? After all, the front office did what they could to build a competitive roster over the offseason, and now it comes down to the coaches and players to produce results.
It would be one thing if this team was forging into the season with a young and inexperienced roster and the organization was thinking more long-term rebuild. However, that just wasn’t the case. The goal was to build a Stanley Cup contending roster by adding Ryan McDonagh, Nino Niederreiter, and doing everything they could to re-sign Filip Forsberg rather than trading him before the 2022 trade deadline.
Usually head coaches take the first fall in a disaster like this. I don’t see Hynes getting fired until past the midway point of the season at the earliest. If this team is flirting with last place and irrelevant as the trade deadline approaches in early March, then I could see the front office relieving Hynes of his coaching duties.
Until then, we’re going to have to suffer through this and hope somehow, they work their way out of this massive funk they’re in.
The most disturbing part about all of this is they’re finding different ways to lose whether that be coughing up late leads, self-inflicted wounds with bad penalties, not finishing their scoring chances, or a combination of all three.
Hynes got a two-year contract over the offseason, but that doesn’t protect him from getting fired during the course of this current season. If it gets bad enough, the front office has to make a change midseason. They can’t accept mediocrity, and a coaching change has to come first.
Of course, Hynes isn’t the sole person to blame in all of this. The players deserve heavy criticism as well for not playing at the level they’re capable of, while also at times looking disengaged and just not matching the intensity level of the other team.
Nashville Predators Look Lost and Disengaged
We’ve seen bad Predators teams in the past, but rarely have I had to ever question the heart and desire of Predators teams. They’ve not always had the talent level of the opposition, but they’ve always brought the passion that can win you a lot of hockey games. I don’t see that with this current Predators team, and a head coaching change might be the only solution to galvanize this locker room.
I’ve always looked at Hynes as a player’s coach. After watching the 2021-22 season and seeing players like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Roman Josi have career years, I figured Hynes’ seat was cozy for the foreseeable future.
Things change fast. How much of last season was just extremely good fortune? Also, even with all of that good fortune, you still got swept for the first time in franchise history.
With the latest loss, Hynes is 95-70-11 as head coach of the Nashville Predators in the regular season. Not terrible by any means, but his postseason record is an abysmal 3-11, bringing his career postseason coaching record to 4-15.
Hynes has been active in shuffling the lineup and making some bold decisions, and they’re not really paying off. You get one win over the Blues, but that good feeling was short lived.
Behind closed doors if there are conversations going on with Barry Trotz and you think there is mutual interest that he would return to the Predators’ bench, then you absolutely make the decision to let go of Hynes and bring Trotz in. Don’t even think twice about it.
Other head coaching candidates would be Karl Taylor, who currently coaches the Milwaukee Admirals and has done an outstanding job building talent in the prospect pool. A promotion to the NHL level would be intriguing.
Dave Tippett, who has nearly three decades of head coaching experience, is currently on the market after he was let go by the Edmonton Oilers last season. Not saying he’s the best option, but at least he’s got a much more accomplished track record.
This next coaching hire might take a leap of faith and bringing in a younger head coach getting their first chance. I would even entertain promoting current Assistant Coach Dan Hinote as interim head coach. Either way, we can’t just keep going down this path of irrelevancy.
Hynes’ seat has abruptly gone from lukewarm to toasty just a month in. If this team continues down this dark road, then it might force Poile’s hand and Hynes may not make it another two months behind the bench for the Nashville Predators.