John Hynes agreed to a multiyear contract extension as coach of the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Hynes is 125-122-38 in four seasons as Devils coach, including 15-17-7 this season. New Jersey qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2012. The Devils were 44-29-9 for 97 points, a 27-point improvement from a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2016-17, before a five-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round.
“We’ve established a standard in New Jersey of what we expect, how we act, how we practice and how we play,” Hynes said. “Throughout my time here, the management, scouts, coaches, players and support staff have worked tirelessly to create this culture.
“We will continue to instill in our team the tenets of grit, compete and being a self-starter, as we build this brotherhood. I appreciate the confidence [managing partner Josh Harris], [co-managing partner David Blitzer] and [general manager Ray Shero] have shown in me from Day 1 and know that the entire organization is pulling in the right direction.”
Hynes, 43, is the second-winningest coach in Devils history behind Jacques Lemaire (276-166-10, 57 ties). This season, however, New Jersey is last in the Metropolitan Division after a 4-0-0 start and enters Thursday 10 points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the second wild card into the playoffs from the East.
The Devils had won three straight games and four of five before a 5-4 loss at the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. They’ve endured injuries to key players, including forward and reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall (lower body), forward Marcus Johansson (upper body) and goalie Cory Schneider (abdominal). Defenseman and captain Andy Greene left the game Wednesday in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Forwards Nico Hischier and Brian Boyle, have also missed time, as has defenseman Sami Vatanen.
Despite the adversity, Shero lauded Hynes for helping build a culture and system focused on player development.
“He has cultivated a group of veteran leaders while helping our young players develop and gain experience,” Shero said. “John is to be commended for the progress the team has made under his direction, and this commitment shows that we are confident in the role he will play in our future success.”
The Devils announced in February that they had exercised the fourth-year option on the contract Hynes signed on June 2, 2015.
Hynes coached Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League for five seasons, guiding the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top farm team to five straight appearances in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He also coached the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and was an assistant with Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.
“The three areas important to me in a coach are an ability to teach, inspire and discipline,” Shero told NHL.com on Dec. 11. “There’s a fine line between being a friend and establishing a relationship, and John has done that with his players. You’ve got to hold everyone accountable and can’t defer to veterans. In three seasons he’s shown great growth in how he’s dealt with our veterans and young players.
“John’s growth path has mirrored that of our team, and I like to see that. He’s taken hard-working teams and helped them accomplish more. He coaches to his players’ strengths and helps them find a gear or aspect to their game and brings it to the forefront. He’s coached an immensely talented player to become an MVP. Everyone had a great inside glimpse into John with the Behind the Glass all-access series as a communicator, motivator, and his direction as a coach. You have to be honest with yourself as a coach, and sometimes that’s not comfortable, but John has matured in that regard, too.”
The Devils continue a four-game road trip at the Arizona Coyotes on Friday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, MSG+, NHL.TV).