What to Expect from New Wild Coach John Hynes: Insights from His Former Players

When Roman Josi witnessed John Hynes take the reins of a struggling Minnesota Wild team this week, guiding them to victories in both of their initial two games, he wasn’t the least bit surprised. For Josi, it all felt familiar. “It was like with us,” said the Nashville Predators captain. “He brought us back.”

Hynes was enlisted for his previous NHL job in January 2020 with the hopes that he could rejuvenate an underachieving, veteran-laden roster, as the Predators were 19-15-7 at the time, seven points out of third place in the Central and outside the playoff picture. Under Hynes, they went 16-11-1, including winning nine of their final 15 games to make the postseason, marking the first of three times Hynes coached them in the playoffs. “He’s a really good motivator,” said Ryan McDonagh, a player who has experience with the likes of Jon Cooper and John Tortorella. “What stood out to me is that, it’s such a long season, you’re going to have a stretch where you’re playing well or fighting it. He always seemed to get the best out of the group and get them motivated. Especially during the dog days of the middle of the season, he had that good feel when a team needs a jolt.”

Hynes has certainly given the Wild a new sense of energy, with the pair of wins snapping a seven-game losing streak. As forward Pat Maroon put it, “We’re a completely different team.” The Wild are experiencing what other teams Hynes has coached have felt. Talking to his former players from New Jersey and Nashville, you get a sense of a detailed and demanding coach who connects with his group. He’s a clear communicator, known for his fiery and amusing motivational speeches. He’s gotten the most out of league MVPs like Taylor Hall and struggling prospects like Cody Glass. “He’s fiery, impassioned, and he cares a lot,” said former Devils goalie Cory Schneider. “Think the guys (in Minnesota) are going to like him.”

John Hynes is presently 2-0-0 as the Wild’s head coach. (Brad Rempel / USA Today)

Alain Nasreddine didn’t know much about Hynes until his job interview in 2010. After spending his career mostly in the AHL, and with 74 NHL games under his belt, the retired defenseman was looking to get into coaching. Hynes had just taken over as head coach of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate and hired Nasreddine to join his staff. When Hynes addressed prospects at a rookie tournament that summer, Nasreddine was captivated. “I remember telling him, ‘Man I wish I was still playing, I’d go through a wall for you,’” Nasreddine said. “He was very detailed, very passionate. Everything you’d want in a coach. I thought, ‘I would play for a guy like that.’”

Nasreddine spent the next nine years as Hynes’ assistant, following him from Wilkes-Barre to the New Jersey Devils in 2015. They had many meals together, pored over film. Their families became close, spending many Thanksgivings at each other’s houses. Nasreddine saw Hynes as someone who relies on his staff, gives them ownership and roles. He was never afraid to ask for opinions or hold players accountable. “That’s the biggest thing for a coach nowadays,” Nasreddine said. “He really has great communication with star players, with everyone. He’ll find a way to hold (them responsible), whether it’s (Kirill) Kaprizov or (Matt) Boldy to (Brandon) Duhaime. It’s one of his main qualities.”

The example Nasreddine uses is Taylor Hall, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 NHL Draft who, despite being an elite winger, had to round out his game. Hynes played a key role in that development, with Hall winning the Hart Trophy in their second year together. Schneider said it wasn’t a “million different things on the board,” but rather a focused, clear set of talking points tailored to each opponent. Players from both the Devils and Predators emphasized how collaborative Hynes was with their leadership groups. Josi said he had numerous conversations with Hynes, about the team’s schedule, practices, and how they felt overall. He empowered the players and trusted them, making him a unique coach. John Hynes is known for his detailed and passionate coaching approach, from reviving the Nashville Predators to bringing new life to the Minnesota Wild. For many players, he has made a lasting impact both professionally and personally.


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