Predators hire ex-Devils coach John Hynes

John Hynes has been named the new head coach of the Nashville Predators, just over a month after being fired by the New Jersey Devils.

The Predators fired head coach Peter Laviolette on Monday after he spent six seasons with the team. Hynes becomes just the third head coach for Nashville in franchise history.

The Predators are 19-15-7 for 45 points, sitting seven points out of third place in the Central Division and four points out of the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

"For me, personally, this has been the hardest year that I've ever had because we have been totally unable to meet expectations for ourselves on the ice ...'' general manager David Poile said during a news conference Tuesday. "There's been a lot of criticism of our play. There has been a lot of inconsistencies with our play. So many games that we've played this year I felt we were going to win the game, and for whatever happened that win and that point was taken away from us.''

Laviolette had coached the Predators since 2014, amassing a record of 248-143-60. Nashville made the playoffs every season he was behind the bench, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, when the Predators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hynes was hired by the Devils in 2015 and went 150-159-45 with the team in five seasons, making the playoffs just once. He was formerly the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL from 2009 to 2015. His general manager there was Ray Shero, who later hired him to become his first head coach in New Jersey.

"[Hynes] has a great track record of both effectively developing younger players and successfully motivating veteran players," Poile said. "We're confident that he's the guy to cultivate a winning culture in our locker room.''

Shero is one connection between Hynes and the Predators, having served as assistant GM under Poile. Hynes also has a connection with Nashville assistant GM Jeff Kealty, who played with Hynes at Boston University. Hynes has also worked inside the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and Poile has been an executive with USA Hockey throughout his career.

"The Nashville job is special,'' Hynes said. "I'm very excited to be able to work with this team. It's very talented -- it's well built. There's a lot of different dimensions, and it comes from an extremely successful tradition.''

Hynes takes over a Nashville team that has underwhelmed this season. While they're sixth in offense (3.44 goals per game), the Predators have had an uncharacteristically bad season defensively at 3.27 goals against per game, which ranks 24th. Last season, they were fourth at 2.58 goals against per game. The Predators have the second-best goals scored percentage (56.28) at 5-on-5 in the NHL. On special teams, they're 24th in the power play (16.8) and 29th in the penalty kill (74.0). The Predators are third from the bottom in team save percentage (.889) this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.