The Nashville Predators are making a change behind the bench, hiring Andrew Brunette to replace John Hynes as head coach, the team announced Wednesday.
The Predators announced Hynes' firing Tuesday, saying in a statement that assistant coach Dan Lambert was also relieved of his coaching duties. Nashville announced Brunette's hiring the following day.
"We want to become more of an offensive team and Andrew specializes on that side of the ice -- he lived it as a player, and he coaches it as a coach," incoming general manager Barry Trotz said in a statement. "He is as good of an offensive teacher and power-play coach as there is in the game today. He will be great with our young players, and I know, because of his background as a player, he will connect well with our top, skilled players."
Hynes spent part of four seasons with the Predators after replacing outgoing coach Peter Laviolette on Jan. 7, 2020. Nashville reached the playoffs in Hynes' first two full seasons, losing in the first round both times. The Predators failed to qualify for the postseason this year -- a first since 2014 -- after an injury-plagued 42-32-8 campaign.
Hynes leaves the organization with an overall mark of 134-96-18.
"John Hynes is a good man and a good hockey coach," Trotz said in a statement Tuesday. "He did an outstanding job after the trade deadline with our team, especially with our young players, and he is a well-prepared, hard-working coach who will continue to grow in the NHL. After our year-end meetings and some additional evaluation, it was time to change the voice and time to go in a different direction. On behalf of all of us at the Predators, we'd like to thank John for all his work here and wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
This will be the first head-coaching job for Brunette since he was named interim coach of the Florida Panthers on Oct. 28, 2021. Brunette was an assistant on Joel Quenneville's staff there and was promoted to replace his boss after Quenneville resigned amid fallout from the Chicago Blackhawks' Kyle Beach lawsuit.
Brunette guided the Panthers to the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season club with a franchise-best 51 wins and 108 points last season. The Panthers' luck didn't carry into the playoffs, though, and they were jettisoned in a second-round sweep by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Florida general manager Bill Zito ultimately did not remove the interim tag from Brunette, instead hiring Paul Maurice as the Panthers' next full-time coach. Brunette moved on to an assistant role with the New Jersey Devils for the 2022-23 season.
Brunette is back in familiar territory with Nashville. A veteran who played in 1,110 career NHL games, he spent the 1998-99 season with the Predators and scored the first goal in the expansion team's history.
"I am super excited to be back in Nashville and a part of the Predators organization," Brunette said in a statement. "I feel like this is coming full circle for my career -- from pulling on the jersey for the first time 25 years ago to returning now to take care of some unfinished business. It has been awesome to see how this city and its fanbase have grown since I played here and I look forward to continuing the legacy and the culture behind the bench that Barry cultivated that inaugural season."
The decision to switch coaches marks the first big move involving Trotz, who will step in to replace David Poile when the longtime general manager officially retires in July.