Nashville Predators: Pointless to String Along John Hynes Any Further

Feb 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes looks on from the bench during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Stadium Series ice hockey game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes looks on from the bench during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Stadium Series ice hockey game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

In what’s supposed to be the quiet part of the offseason for the Nashville Predators, the talks of Head Coach John Hynes and his pending job security is resurfacing.

It’s to the point of exhausting this cloud of uncertainty behind the bench that swirls over the Nashville Predators, and after a trade deadline that’s steering the organization to a new era, it only seems feasible that beginning with a new head coach is the next and immediate step to take.

Incoming General Manager Barry Trotz is doing his due diligence on Hynes’ future with the Nashville Predators, as he should. No one’s job and possible firing should ever be taken lightly. However, I don’t see a path forward that involves Hynes as head coach of the Nashville Predators in 2023-24.

Firing Hynes this Offseason Looks Inevitable for Nashville Predators

What kind of message does this send to the players that it’s taking this long to decide on the final year of Hynes’ current contract? It would signal to me that the front office doesn’t have its full confidence in my head coach, and that’s a problem you can’t move forward with. Especially with what’s going to be a much younger and inexperience group, many of whom are currently finding success in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the Milwaukee Admirals.

I’ve been indifferent on moving forward with Hynes next season, while the overwhelming majority of the fanbase seems to have wanted Hynes fired long ago. Firing him midseason would’ve been too late if you ask a lot of fans.

Sitting here now in mid-May and getting adjusted to the lonely feeling of not seeing the Nashville Predators in the playoffs for the first time since Trotz ironically enough coached his last season for Nashville, it just makes sense to make a head coaching change. What would be the fourth head coaching search in this franchise’s 24-year history.

We’ve written numerous pieces over the last couple of years on Hynes’ hot seat, and quite frankly I’m hoping this is my last one. He hasn’t produced nearly enough positive results to override the overwhelming majority of your fanbase who wants change.

At best, Hynes has produced “meh” results, and at worst it has looked like this organization will never climb out of irrelevancy. And many times at the best, it was due to Juuse Saros doing what any elite goaltender would do for their head coach. Steal games that the overall team on the ice probably didn’t play well enough to earn.

There isn’t much logical sense into dragging this out for much longer, other than to wait for the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and make a decision on it before the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, which the Nashville Predators are hosting.

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This is my target window for when and if the Predators front office is actually going to move on from Hynes. This could also mean they’re waiting for the conclusion of the Admirals postseason run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Hynes has amassed a coaching record with the Nashville Predators of 134-95-18 for a .579 points percentage. Much higher than in his five seasons with the New Jersey Devils, but his downright awful track record in the postseason of 3-11 is the biggest eyesore on his resume that instills zero confidence from me that he can take this team back to sustained postseason success, which is why now is the perfect time to move on.

Fanbase Needs to Realize Things Won’t Magically Be Fixed Instantly

Even if it starts off a little rocky, imagine the excitement and optimism surrounding this team going into 2023-24 with a new General Manager, new head coach and a roster bursting with young talent. You can change the whole face of this franchise. But if you keep Hynes around, that cloud of uncertainty will remain.

Karl Taylor, Head Coach of the Milwaukee Admirals, has always been the popular choice of the fans to move up with the promotion of an NHL head coaching gig. And it would be a somewhat easy transition, at least you would assume, to coach the same young players who played a key role in developing not all that long ago and are actually coaching currently in the AHL postseason.

There are other assistant coaches around the NHL that have earned the right to a head coaching promotion that I would be looking at as well. A hungry and energetic new head coach that can connect with the young talent that’s coming into the fold, like Luke Evangelista, Tommy Novak, Cody Glass, Juuso Parssinen and Egor Afanasyev.

Devils Assistant Head Coach Andrew Brunette is going to get a ton of attention this offseason as a potential head coaching candidate. Limited NHL head coaching experience, but led the Florida Panthers to a record of 51-18-6 before the team decided not to retain him, and he moved on to have a successful stint as an assistant with the Devils this past season.

Another rising assistant head coaching candidate is Spencer Carbery, who fits the aforementioned qualities of hungry and energetic. And he was a power play guru for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

There are numerous other assistants that are NHL head coaching candidates this offseason for the Predators to look at. This is the route they need to go to replace Hynes with. Identify the right fit that Trotz wants to implement, which he has stated he wants more speed.

Jay Leach, assistant coach for the upstart Seattle Kraken, is another candidate that has me intrigued for the Predators to look at if indeed Hynes is handed the pink slip in the coming weeks.

Leach is one of those rising candidates that is at the top of the line and it’s just a matter of where he lands. The Kraken in only their second year of existence got the very most out of their roster to take it to Game 7 and one win away from the Western Conference Finals.

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It’s paramount that the Nashville Predators front office resists the urge to hire another recycled and failed NHL head coach. And don’t you dare bring up Peter Laviolette. That would be like gambling your mortgage at the craps table.

Although I don’t expect the Predators to fall into oblivion next season, they’re in a phase of uncertainty and growing pains. You have to choose ever so wisely in this next head coach after Hynes with a roster that is blended with raw talent that needs more time to develop, and a veteran core that quite frankly needs to stop underperforming.

With all of that said, it makes zero sense to move forward with Hynes in 2023-24, unless you’re just treating it like a throw-away season. Trotz isn’t going to approach it that way, so just move on, thank Hynes for his service, and continue to usher in a new era of Nashville Predators hockey.

Not to mention, you’ll reignite the fanbase just in time to host the 2023 NHL Entry draft.