Devils head coach John Hynes entered the season not worrying about his job security. Management and ownership stood behind him these last few years in the rebuilding process.
Expectations changed after the Devils added more talent such as acquiring P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev and signing Wayne Simmonds this offseason. They made those moves to complement Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and their No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in an attempt to compete for a playoff spot this season.
So far, the moves resulted to nothing. The Devils are now 0-2-1 for the season after their 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. Since the Devils blew a 4-0 lead in their 5-4 loss against the Winnipeg Jets in the shootout on Opening Night, they have been outscored 15-2.
If the Devils don’t get it going soon, Hynes could be fired. Devils owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer did not authorize Devils general manager Ray Shero to make moves just to see another losing season and a non-playoff season. They are not going to be patient and waste a season if things don’t get better.
Hynes should bear some responsibility for the Devils’ problems. It’s his fifth year as coach. No one stays on as an NHL head coach for more than three seasons without better results. If he did not have the Devils in the playoffs two years ago, he probably wouldn’t be coaching them right now. With a coaching record of 141-148 in his Devils tenure, he can only get the benefit of the doubt for so long, even if Devils general manager Ray Shero collaborates with him.
Firing Hynes won’t be Shero’s call. This would be ownership’s decision if it comes down to that.
Already, fans lost patience with Hynes. They called for his firing on Twitter and on Devils message boards after what took place Wednesday night. He never earned the fans’ trust to begin with, even when he coached the Devils to a playoff appearance. It won’t get better anytime soon, especially if the losses keep piling up.
This start was not what Devils and their fans envisioned in this young season. The Devils played three opponents that were winnable in the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Devils played the Jets team entering a back-to-back night after playing the Rangers the previous night, and they led 4-0 just to lose in a shootout, which was unacceptable. They responded to a bad loss the following night by getting throttled by the perpetual rebuilding Sabres 7-2, which Hynes called his team out for playing soft.
The Flyers came off from overseas to start their season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague. They had days off just to settle in after all the jetlag that had them fatigued, and they played like the faster team than the Devils the entire game.
That’s unacceptable. The Devils never offered resistance or push back toward the Flyers. Quite frankly, it had a feel of an exhibition game. After a winless start, one would think the Devils would play with desperation.
For whatever reason, the Devils fell apart after the talented Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made a glove save off Taylor Hall’s shot to prevent the visitors from tying the game at 1 in the second period. The Flyers started the third period by scoring a couple of goals 24 seconds apart in the first minute of play, as Kevin Hayes scored a power-play goal and Sean Couturier scored an even strength goal. It might have well been game over after that.Travis Konecny scored the Flyers’ fourth goal of the game along with their third goal of the third period.
Maybe it’s the personnel. Maybe guys need time to click with so many new guys on the roster. Either way, it shouldn’t take this long to get a win. The least they can do is be accountable on defense and be detailed in every shift every game. So far, this hasn’t happened in any of the three games, and that’s a reflection on the Devils head coach.
Of all guys that needed a win Wednesday night, it was Hynes. Just getting a win would have the players stop pressing and start playing hockey. Instead, the Devils return to Prudential Center tonight to play the Edmonton Oilers in front of a restless crowd that already wants a win.
The more the Devils keep losing, it won’t be long until Hynes will have to answer about his job security. It won’t just be an innuendo. He knows the deal going back to the offseason. No one told him he had to win. The Devils offseason action spoke for him.
Hynes’ job status is the last thing the players need to hear while they are settling in. It’s already hard enough as it is just to get a win and play together.
Owners look at coaches as expendable and easy to blame when a team goes through a rough stretch. They fire coaches to get a spark going in a sense players would respond to a new voice.
The Devils could use a red ass coach that players would reflect from his personality. From watching them Wednesday night, they could use a kick in the butt. Players seemed too comfortable playing hockey with no accountability that comes with it.
This doesn’t go unnoticed from Harris and Blitzer’s perspective.
Yes, it’s three games, but this snowballs to the point where fans are getting restless and players are scuffling.
Time is of the essence for Hynes to have his team figure it out or a new head coach will do it for him.