NEWARK, N.J. — In a boom or bust season for the New Jersey Devils that got off to a nightmarishly horrid start, now erstwhile head coach John Hynes paid the ultimate price for his team’s unmet expectations before the end of the calendar year.
Hynes, who led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Playoffs just two seasons ago, was relieved of his duties this afternoon after a 7-1 away defeat to the Buffalo Sabres the evening prior. Assistant coach Alain Nasreddine has been promoted to interim head coach.
The Devils made the most noise of any team this past offseason, trading for one-time Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, signing Wayne Simmonds and KHL star Nikita Gusev, all in an effort to both make it back to the postseason and to entice 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall to sign an extension with the team. The first 35 minutes of the season appeared to be a good omen of things to come, jumping out to a 4-0 lead against the Winnipeg Jets in the opener.
The Jets came back to win the game 5-4 in a shootout, the onset of a six-game losing streak to begin the season that opened eyes across the league for all the wrong reasons.
Two disturbing trends developed with the team over the past two months: blown leads and non-competitive outings. Four of New Jersey’s eight losses in October came after the team opened up at least a two-goal lead in those outings.
In the last two games, losses at home to the New York Rangers and to the Sabres, the Devils were outscored 11-1, and the latter contest marked the ninth game this season that New Jersey has lost by at least three goals — six of those losses coming by at least four.
Nasreddine has been an assistant under Hynes since 2010, when the two were coaching at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Before his time as a coach, the 44-year-old Nasreddine played 74 career games in the National Hockey League with Penguins and New York Islanders.