Before beginning his second season as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, John Hynes will serve as an assistant for Team USA in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Coach Hynes joins a staff led by John Tortorella (head coach), and fellow assistants Mike Sullivan, Phil Housley, Jack Capuano, and Scott Gordon. With the World Cup set to begin this week in Toronto, it’s reminded many about the uncertain status of NHL player eligibility in another major international tournament: the 2018 Olympics.
It’s not entirely certain if the NHL will send its players to the 2018 games in South Korea. Should that be the case, the revival of the World Cup of Hockey could be a consolation if the league decides to keep their players home. If that isn’t the case however, you have to figure Team USA’s 2018 roster and staff will look considerably different than its 2014 crew. One department where we could see such change is the team’s coaching staff, namely the head coaching position. If Team USA passes on Dan Bylsma again (2014 head coach), there are a number of suitable options to pick from.
John Hynes emerges as a suitable candidate
Just in comparison to Team USA’s World Cup coaching staff, John Hynes is extensively more experienced in international play from his years with the US National Development Program. Although he sorely lacks the NHL experience that comparable candidates like Bylsma and Peter Laviolette have, his track record with the US National Development Program is quite commendable. Hynes won a gold (2006) and bronze (2008) as head coach, and a silver medal in 2004 as an assistant with USNDP’s U-18 team. Hynes was also head coach of USA’s 2008 team that played at the World Juniors, who also had a fourth place finish. Recently, Hynes coached the US Men’s National Team for the 2016 IIHF World Championships, where they made it to the semi-finals (lost to Canada), and subsequently lost to Russia in the bronze consolation match. While he failed to emerge from the tournament with a medal, Coach Hynes had an overall good showing in his first international head coaching stint at the professional level.
During his time in the National Development Program, Hynes coached a considerable number of noteworthy NHLers like Patrick Kane, Brian Strait, Erik Johnson, Justin Faulk, and Jimmy Hayes. During his other aforementioned international coaching stints in the years leading up to Hynes’ pro-career, he coached other US-born NHLers like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Ryan Kesler, Drew Stafford, and Mark Stuart, among several others. While he may lack the necessary experience at the pro-level, Coach Hynes will be very familiar with a good number of players currently projected to be on Team’s USA’s 2018 Olympic roster.
Like we’ve seen with most general managers and head coaches that take the international stage, a lot of them like to include players from their NHL organization, which Coach Hynes would have little issue doing in 2018. Topping that list is goaltender Cory Schneider and right wing Kyle Palmieri. Although he’ll be 35 two years from now, Andy Greene is also a viable option, and someone that many Devils (and other NHL) fans think has been snubbed in selection of both the World Cup and 2014 US Olympic rosters.
It’s pure speculation at this point, but Coach Hynes is a name on the rise in USA hockey. Depending on what he can do with the Devils the next two seasons and as the youngest head coach in the league (41), he has plenty of time to grow and continue to maintain being a viable candidate for Team USA’s 2018 head coach.
Assuming the NHL lets its players go of course.
USA’s first game in the World Cup of Hockey is Friday September 9th at 7:00pm vs Canada.