New Jersey Devils: Is John Hynes Coaching for His Job This Year?

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are a vastly improved team from last season.  They acquired a KHL MVP, a Norris Trophy winner, and a generational first-overall pick.  With these additions, higher expectations will understandably be placed on the team. With this comes pressure on John Hynes to perform.

When Hynes was named head coach in the summer of 2015, we knew it would be a process and not to expect success immediately.  After all, he was taking over a team where the likes of Tyler Kennedy, Jacob Josefson, and Tuomo Ruutu were playing significant minutes.  The team still overperformed and finished with 84 points, and when Taylor Hall was brought that offseason to help the offensively challenged team, it looked like New Jersey was poised to take the next step and seriously compete for a playoff spot.

After starting the season strong at 9-3-3, Hynes’ Devils nosedived to the bottom of the Metropolitan division and finished with 70 points.  The one saving grace from this dismal season was landing the first-overall pick and star center Nico Hischier.

Again heading into a season without much expectations, young players like Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, Blake Coleman and Miles Wood shined under Hynes and with the help of an otherworldly season from Taylor Hall, the Devils made it back to the playoffs, where they fell in five games to the Lightning.  Once more, the team looked to be on the rise with a young team under Hynes. But once again, coming off of a season where progress was made, New Jersey plummeted back to the basement of the Metro and a brutal 72 points.

The lottery balls bounced in favor of the Devils again and the team selected center Jack Hughes first overall.  Nikita Gusev, PK Subban, and Wayne Simmonds were also brought in during a strong offseason. Now, the Devils have their most talented roster on paper since probably one of the mid 2000s teams.  With a healthy Taylor Hall, the aforementioned additions, and another year of the young players, anything short of the playoffs will be a failure.

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If New Jersey stumbles out of the gates this year, it is hard to believe that Hynes won’t be on the hot seat.  If Taylor Hall is still a part of the team early on and they struggle, rumors about him walking will be flying around and opposing media will ask him about his future nearly every game, especially the Canadian media.  This will create a massive distraction in the locker room, and everything would go downhill from there. It’s honestly something that most coaches can’t survive.

This year will decide how long John Hynes is the head coach of the New Jersey Devils.  If the team finishes with say 105 points and makes a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, he will be the bench boss for the foreseeable future.  But if they are seemingly out of the playoff race by December, Ray Shero will likely be searching for a new coach.