Former New Jersey Devils Head Coach John Hynes Takes Minnesota Wild Job

John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Things happen very quickly in the NHL. Less than two months into the season, two teams have decided to fire their head coaches. The Minnesota Wild had aspirations to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, just like the Edmonton Oilers. After a dreadful start, they fired Dean Evanson as head coach.

In a statement by the team, former Devils player Bill Guerin, now the Wild GM, said, “Dean did an excellent job during his tenure with the Minnesota Wild, especially as Head Coach of our team. I am very thankful for his hard work and dedication to our organization.”

There was no official reason given for his firing, but one can assume the disappointing start and the lack of playoff success have a lot to do with it. Evason became the interim head coach of the Wild in February 2020, where he would face incredible challenges right away brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wild have had zero playoff series wins since Evason took over. He’s 0-4 in playoff series, and the Wild haven’t won a playoff series since 2015.

However, a 5–10–4 start, including two losses to the Devils, has secured his fate. The goaltending hasn’t been good enough. The stars aren’t carrying the franchise. Now, a former Devils head coach is taking over.

Hynes was the Devils head coach from 2015 to December 3, 2019, when he was fired after a disappointing start to that season. The Devils ended up trading captain Andy Greene, star Taylor Hall, heart-and-soul player Blake Coleman, and Wayne Simmonds while also firing Ray Shero that season.

After his Devils tenure, the Nashville Predators hired Hynes to be their head coach after current Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette was fired in 2020. He lasted until 2023 when Barry Trotz came in and cleaned house. Former Devils assistant Andrew Brunette replaced Hynes and is now the Preds’ head coach.

Hynes is another example of the NHL’s coaching carousel hitting the same names that always get opportunities. This one is complicated since it happened midseason, but the Wild seem like a team that might be primed for a coach looking for his opportunity. They have a mix of veterans and young stars. A $14 million cap hit from the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter is really hurting their situation. Now, they are trying to work their way out of the basement of the West.

Seeing Hynes get another opportunity has brewed the type of reaction one would expect from Devils fans. Some are laughing at the Wild’s misfortune, while others are just happy the Devils don’t have to see the Wild again this season so Hynes can’t take another game from them (the Devils never beat Hynes while he was in Nashville and currently hold an eight-game losing streak to the Predators).

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It will take a miracle for the Wild to get back into contention, but if Hynes can do it, it will be his greatest accomplishment in the NHL. One might assume Hynes knew this was a possibility because he didn’t take any assistant jobs. He remained free to take the first job that came calling. With the Oilers seemingly dead set on hiring Kris Knoblauch, Hynes waited for the Wild to ring his agent. Now, he’s back as the head guy behind the bench.