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Hynes excited to join Devils as head coach

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, N.J. – John Hynes was hired as New Jersey Devils coach Tuesday, the 17th in their history.

Hynes and Devils general manager Ray Shero are familiar with each other from their time in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. They will get a chance to work together again with the Devils.

Hynes was coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Penguins, for the past five seasons. He was hired for that job by Shero, who at the time was GM of the Penguins.

"I know that Ray and I worked really well together when we were in the Pittsburgh organization," Hynes said. "I felt very comfortable as a coach coming in here, knowing the way Ray wants to do things, how he wants to run a team, what he expects from his coaches and his team, and to me that's really important.

"To be on the same page as a coach with the ownership group, with [Devils president] Lou Lamoriello and Ray Shero, was really a part of it for me."

Shero said the continuity played a role in his decision to hire Hynes.

"I did not offer this job to any other person except John Hynes," Shero said. "I had a very short list to start with and I talked to a number of different coaches about philosophies, not so much about the Devils job in particular, and had great conversations with [co-coaches] Adam Oates and Scott Stevens when I first got here.

"The things that we've talked about and the identity we want to establish, the decision to hire John Hynes as the new head coach, he's going to encompass these things going forward."

Shero said no decisions have been made yet regarding the rest of the Devils coaching staff.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 231-126-10-17 in Hynes' five seasons and qualified for the AHL playoffs every season; this season they advanced to the conference semifinals. In 2010-11 they had the best record in the AHL and Hynes was named coach of the year.

Hynes, 40, is the youngest coach in the NHL. He has no prior NHL coaching experience but he worked with a number of elite players during parts of nine seasons as a coach with the United States National Team Development Program, among them Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. Other elite NHL players Hynes had a hand in developing are Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler and Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise.

"I've been coaching for a while, so it's almost like you're a rookie head coach. But I'm not a rookie coach," Hynes said. "It's been great; I've really enjoyed the ride, where I've been able to be a head coach at two places for six and five years. You can develop some roots there and really establish a culture and a program, and it's been exciting.

"When this opportunity came through, it's really exciting to be able to be here."

Shero believes Hynes' lack of NHL experience wasn't something that hurt his candidacy.

"When does Tampa start [the Stanley Cup Final], tomorrow? And Jon Cooper is there," Shero said. "Again, you look and there's so many different backgrounds. Before it was guys were hiring guys who were fired before."

" … I want a teacher, and because I want a teacher who is going to explain why we're going to play a certain way, and players want to know why, and that's a teacher. I really think John embodies all that stuff, and he's got a presence. I've seen him in camps, in development camps, and he's going a presence, and he's a leader. That's important."

New Jersey fired Peter DeBoer as coach Dec. 26. Co-coaches Oates, Stevens and Lamoriello, who Shero replaced as GM on May 4, were behind the bench the rest of the season. The Devils have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs four out of the past five seasons. They had 78 points this season, 20 out of the final wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

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