New Jersey Devils fans are ready for a new head coach, but the fanbase probably won’t receive the man they want, Scott Stevens.
NEWARK, NJ – It happened.
Or, the more important questions might surround whether the winless Devils (0-4-2) will stick with head coach John Hynes. Will general manager Ray Shero look to replace the fifth-year coach?
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 14, 2019
The fans were calling for Hynes’s job during the third period on Monday afternoon at the Prudential Center, after the team blew its third-straight lead on home ice. For the Devils, it marked the second time at home this season they were up by at least three goals at one point during a game and managed to lose.
In a way, fans need to understand and feel bad for Hynes. He was hired and brought in a unique and different perspective than recent coaches in Devils history; he gave the fans hope and was, and is, always well-spoken.
He helped change a culture that was in desperate need of a transition.
It’s not easy for an NHL head coach to last longer than three seasons with a team – but he’s managed to do so.
Entering the third week of the 2019-20 season, most fans probably want to hear and see a familiar name behind Jersey’s bench, no?
It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. And I know you will finish on top!
— Let's Go Devils Podcast (@LetsGoDevilsPOD) October 13, 2019
For years, New Jersey’s fanbase was exposed to bringing back familiar faces to either the ice or behind the bench; it was a signature Lou Lamoriello move and arguably for far too long.
Some puck talk amongst the fans is that they’d like to see former assistant coach, Scott Stevens, take over the club; a champion, former captain and defensive mind. He’s the popular pick, but the reality is it’s probably not going to happen.
If the Devils do decide to replace Hynes than New Jersey’s best interest would be to hire an experienced head coach and one that can make a smooth transition when it comes down to coaching a mix of young talent and star-caliber skaters.
Stevens spent two seasons as an assistant with the Devils (2012-2014), and was helped former Devils assistant Adam Oates run the Devils three-headed coaching staff back in 2014-15, after Peter DeBoer was fired.
For the sake of forwards, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, their development at this time have to take precedent, as fans have seen young talent go to waste over the past decade in Jersey.
As for skaters such as Taylor Hall and P.K. Subban, Jersey would need a veteran coach that has a healthy balance of inspiring his more experienced skaters, while demanding more production and growth out of them.
Is Scott Stevens ‘the guy’ for those two youngsters and the rest the current players?
Even if he is, or isn’t, it’s hard to imagine that Shero would hire a former assistant coach from the Lamoriello regime, and one that wasn’t invited back to New Jersey’s coaching staff after the 2012-13 General Manager of the Year took over the Devils’ front office during the 2015 offseason.
It’s an understandable argument to have a Hockey Hall of Famer with Stevens’ pedigree to “fix” the Devils, but the timing and fit doesn’t seem right for a team that’s in no shape to start experimenting with newly appointed NHL head coaches and transactions to ‘make the fans happy.’
This hockey enthusiast’s fear is that more times than not – some of the greatest athletes aren’t bred to be head coaches and primarily because teaching and communicating and is a different dynamic than being an all-star at one’s respective position.
That’s not to take a stab at Stevens, but before Devils fans start cheering his name at the Rock, let’s evaluate all the circumstances and think if Shero would bring him back?
At this point, if Hynes is let go, speculation may point towards former Pittsburgh Penguins & 2009 Stanley Cup champion head coach, Dan Bylsma. Bylsma is currently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings but I’m sure he’d jump over to Jersey if the situation presented itself.
Unfortunately, there are barely any options for New Jersey to choose from three weeks into the season and it would seem that the Devils would have to receive permission to speak with another club’s assistant coach.
Also, the Devils have four games left this month while the New York Jets have two – let’s hope New Jersey finishes October with more wins than quarterback Sam Darnold and the Jets.
But, I must admit – that was one heck of a game on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.