In Ray Shero’s tenure as the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, no fewer than four men came out the Penguins organization to become NHL head coaches, and it looks like that trend may continue.
Three of them – Michel Therrien in Montreal, Mike Yeo in Minnesota and Todd Richardsa in Columbus – are currently employed in the NHL, while Dan Bylsma is widely expected to be offered a job this offseason.
Some have even speculated that Bylsma would be a good fit to re-join Shero in New Jersey. Instead, it’s another coaching candidate with Penguins ties that is in the headlines.
According to this report by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Shero may also be interested in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach John Hynes.
Hynes, 40, is in his sixth year in the Penguins organization and his fifth as the head coach of their top farm team. Before coaching with the Penguins, he was the head coach of USA Hockey National Development Team. Shero and Devils president Lou Lamoriello both have long ties with the organization and have been on the staff of Team USA in the past.
In Hynes’ five seasons as the head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, his teams have made the playoffs all five years, with one division title and two conference finals appearances. He has a combined 173-126-27 regular season record and is the franchise’s all-time winningest head coach.
He is known as a coach that can get the most out of his players defensively, a skill that would jive nicely with the Devils reputation as defensive stalwarts. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has led the AHL with the fewest goals against in the last three seasons and in four of Hynes’ five years.
Despite his success, Hynes hasn’t been a strong candidate for an NHL job to this point. That may change now as Shero looks for a new boss in New Jersey. Hynes, along with WBS assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, were signed to multi-year contract extensions in December.
CHASING CALDER: Hynes’ Penguins, meanwhile, have their hands full with the Manchester Monarchs in their second round Calder Cup Playoffs series. The Monarchs won both games in Manchester last week, but the Penguins held serve at home with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
Captain Tom Kostopoulos scored the game-winning goal on the power play, one of five straight man advantages for the Penguins. Bryan Rust, returning to the lineup after missing several weeks with a lower-body injury, scored the other goal for Wilkes-Barre. Conor Sheary had two assists to extend his team scoring lead with 10 points in the playoffs.
Matt Murray made 29 saves for the win. He has started each of the AHL Penguins’ six playoff games.
Game 4 will be in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05 p.m. on Monday night.
WORLD’S GREATEST: Team USA righted the ship after a bad loss to Belarus last week by defeating Slovenia 3-1 this morning on the strength of two Brock Nelson (Islanders) goals.
The Americans have one game remaining in pool play against Slovakia on Tuesday. They currently lead Group B with 15 points, three ahead of Russia and Finland, both of which Team USA has already beaten.
Russia plays Slovakia this afternoon. In Group A, the Sidney Crosby-led Canadians are in first place and will play Switzerland this afternoon. Canada also has 15 points, but has played one fewer game than Team USA.
DRAFT KINGS: Three local junior hockey products are ranked in the latest International Scouting Service’s top 30 prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Connor McDavid of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters remains ranked first, while his teammate, Dylan Strome is third. Center Kyle Connor of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms is ranked 13th.
Youngstown’s season is over, but the Otters are in the OHL finals, where they are down two games to none against the Oshawa Generals. Game 3 will be at Erie Insurance Arena on Monday at 7:35 p.m.
Photo credit: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins