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WORLDS: Hynes looking for growth experience at 2019 Worlds

Devils head coach John Hynes working with USA as an Assistant for the 2019 IIHF Worlds

by Amanda Stein / newjerseydevils.com

Of course, New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes would love to be coaching in the NHL playoffs right now. The chance at coaching in meaningful games beyond the NHL regular season is every coach and team's goal when the puck drops on a new NHL season. 

He knows what it takes to get to those meaningful games beyond the 82 regular season ones. 

Just one year ago, he coached the Devils to their first playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season. It marked Hynes' first ever taste of the NHL post-season after he coached the Devils from an eighth place finish the year before, into the post-season for the first time in six years, his third year as the Devils head coach. 

Hynes knows what it takes to get to the meaningful post-season games: the amount of hard work, the unwavering dedication, the commitment to one another. He also knows things don't always go the way you'd like them, despite the amount of work you put into it. And with no post-season for New Jersey this year, the Devils head coach is looking at his next best scenario. 

Hynes will join Team USA's coaching staff for the IIHF World Championship. 

"The opportunity to play some meaningful games and have an opportunity to win a World Championship is something that I have a lot of interest and desire to do," Hynes said. 

Beginning May 10, he will be behind the bench of Team USA as an assistant coach at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia. He'll depart New Jersey on May 5 to get ready for the tournament, where the United States took home the bronze medal in 2018. It will be the second time Hynes coaches at the Worlds, his last appearance was as head coach in 2016. 

This year, Hynes will be an assistant coach, working alongside head coach Jeff Blashill. Detroit assistant coach Dan Bylsma and USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Director of Player Personnel Kevin Reiter will also serve as assistants. For Hynes, at 44 years old and the second-youngest coach currently in the NHL, it was a no-brainer. This experience will only make him better in the long run. 

"Any time you have an opportunity to coach for your country, it's an important moment," he added. "The opportunity to get to work with different coaches, different general managers, different players that you're not used to going through the experience… I just think it's going to be a great, great growth experience."

Part of that growth experience will be working in the assistant coaching capacity, a position Hynes previously held with the World Cup of Hockey USA squad in 2016.

"The way you work with players [as an assistant coach] is different than the head guy," he said. "I think sometimes when you're the head coach [in the NHL], giving yourself the opportunity to have experiences like this really broadens your perspective and really allow you to tweak and make changes on your own team. You might say 'hey, these are things that do really well, and I won't change' or you can say 'this is something that I could really fit into my style' as something that can help [New Jersey] down the road."

To represent Team USA is something that Hynes has always taken the opportunity to do. He already has Team USA hardware under his belt from his past experiences behind the national bench. In 2004, Hynes was an assistant coach of the World Junior team that captured the gold medal. That same year, as head coach of the World Under-18 Championship, Hynes coached his squad to a silver medal finish. In 2006 and 2008, he would again medal at a World Under-18 Championship with Team USA. In '06 Team USA won the gold medal, while in '08 the team won bronze. In 2016, Hynes was the head coach of Team USA's World Championship team. 

This different vantage point, moving from head coach to the assistant coach role is one that Hynes believes can better himself to benefit his New Jersey squad. 

"You really get a different perspective as an assistant coach," Hynes said. "You're in a different role, you see how people do things differently. There's an ability in that role to step back and gain other perspectives about running a team, how they run their meetings, what style of play do they implement. You also gain from seeing how a head coach treats his assistants. You get a different, very valuable perspective."

The Devils head coach is also looking forward to working alongside Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, who will serve in that same capacity for Team USA. While longtime friends, this will be the first time the two work together, another exciting prospect for Hynes. 

"I know him really well, but I've never worked with him before," Hynes said. "He's a really sharp guy with a lot of good experiences and he's a winner. He's won at the American League level and we've always really respected each other. The fact that I get to work with him, the fact that he's giving me a lot of responsibility - I think it's going to be a really good fit."

Team USA. will take to the ice on May 7 for pre-tournament play against Germany in Manheim, Germany. The game will not be televised. The first televised Team USA. game will be May 10 for preliminary play against the host team, Slovakia on the NHL Network at 2:15 p.m. EST. 

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