Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Hynes seems destined for NHL
Many of the Penguins top prospects — Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington, to name a few — figure to spend considerable time at the team's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton AHL affiliate before making the final step to the NHL.
They will be in good hands.
John Hynes, the coach at Wilkes-Barre, is running this week's Penguins prospect camp and is widely regarded as a can't-miss future NHL coach.
“The time will come when, of course, I'll want to move on and be in the NHL,” Hynes said. “But I'm very happy right now with the way things are.”
The Penguins' top prospects are glad to have Hynes around.
“He's just so good,” forward Tom Kuhnhackl said. “It's pretty obvious that he knows what he's doing, that he knows how to explain things to players.”
Hynes, despite several moves in recent years that have directly affected his talent pool, has led the Baby Penguins to three consecutive appearances in the AHL playoffs.
“I give the organization so much credit,” Hynes said. “It's just so well run here; it really is. I've been comfortable here from the beginning.”
In Hynes' three years in Wilkes-Barre, his team has produced respective point totals of 117, 95 and 88. He has led his team to improbable playoff victories — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won a series in May after it had fallen down, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series against Providence — and, by all accounts, has done a masterful job with a lineup that showcases more grinders than blue-chip prospects.
His players report that, like so many successful coaches, Hynes' ability to refine minute details in a player's game is what sets him apart.
“He's just so focused on the details,” said forward Jayson Megna, who thrived under Hynes in Wilkes-Barre last season after a slow start to the season. “He's just always there. Just the little things that you need to do each shift. He always knows how to keep you focused.”
Hynes is the latest in a strong line of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaches.
During the past decade, in fact, 10 percent of the NHL's current head coaches were developed in Wilkes-Barre.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, Montreal coach Michel Therrien and Columbus coach Todd Richards all were head coaches for the Penguins' AHL affiliate.
Two other Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coaches, Todd Reirden and Joe Mullen, have later become successful NHL assistant coaches.
Many around the NHL believe Hynes' time will come.
“You can see why people think highly of him,” said goalie Eric Hartzell, who started working with Hynes only this week. “Great guy, great coach.”
Hartzell illustrated why he believes Hynes is so successful.
For Hartzell, a small coaching technique took him back to his childhood. There's an old adage that, when a goalie warms up, he should always face low shots first.
“I hadn't heard that in five years,” Hartzell said. “But it's true. Just the attention to detail with him. I think it shows the professionalism he has. Really impressive.”