For the first time in a few weeks, John Hynes knows what to expect.
After interviewing with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the head coach job and remaining in the running right down to the last days until Mike Johnston was named to the post, Hynes now knows what’s in store for his immediate future.
“I’m set to come back to Wilkes-Barre,” he said on Tuesday. “I’m excited to come back.”
Hynes will return for his fifth season as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s head coach. While he didn’t get the top coaching job in the Pittsburgh organization, he said the process was thorough and a positive.
“From my perspective it was encouraging to go through the interview process and have a real good shot,” Hynes said. “I knew nothing was guaranteed and I really appreciate the opportunity I had.”
With the Pittsburgh coaching situation settled, the summer will soon get busy again for Hynes. Tuesday marked the first day of the NHL’s free agency period, and Hynes said there have been numerous organizational meetings on the areas that need to be addressed in both Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Some things have already been worked out. In addition to the return of captain Tom Kostopoulos - which was announced at the end of the postseason - veteran forward Nick Drazenovic inked a one-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh organization on Tuesday.
“Over the next couple of days we’ll see more pieces come together in Wilkes-Barre,” Hynes said. “I think there will be less turnover than in the last few years with a lot of veteran core players coming back along with that group of young players. It’s exciting to add them to that foundation.”
In a couple of weeks Hynes will head to Pittsburgh for development camp and then to rookie camp in September before the start of training camp, like he has done for the last several years.
But this season there will be a bit of a change. With a new coach in Pittsburgh, the system that had been employed over the last several seasons will be a bit different.
Hynes is no stranger to utilizing different systems as a coach. He did it in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and during his seven years as head coach of the U.S. national development program.
That’s why Hynes views any potential changes as an opportunity.
“To be able to expand as a coach and utilize different systems while staying with the same organization is an exciting thing,” he said.
But does that mean the fans will see a different brand of hockey in Wilkes-Barre when the 2014-15 season begins?
“There will be similarities and there will be slight adjustments and differences in how the teams are run,” Hynes said. “As far as the basic style - the high-tempo, puck possession and being difficult to play against, that’s not going to change.
“I spoke to Mike Johnston at length about the system and I’m excited about it.”
- In addition to Drazenovic returning, Pittsburgh also tendered offers to all of its restricted free agents. The group includes familiar faces such as Jayson Megna, Bobby Farnham, Simon Despres and Philip Samuelsson.
- On the Wheeling front, Wilkes-Barre native Patrick McGrath re-signed with the Nailers on Tuesday. McGrath will return for his second season with Wheeling, where he led the team with 18 fighting majors last season and was voted Player of the Year by the fans.