Last updated: March 29. 2014 10:17PM - 845 Views
By - tvenesky@civitasmedia.com

Penguins coach John Hynes got his start on the ice in hockey-mad Rhode Island.
Penguins coach John Hynes got his start on the ice in hockey-mad Rhode Island.
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By the time a player or coach reaches the AHL or NHL, they have already achieved a lot in their careers and made plenty of memories along the way. Each week, we’ll sit down with one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and talk about some of the memorable “firsts” they’ve had during their careers, ranging from their first time on skates to their first goal as a pro.

John Hynes

Age: 38

Position: Head coach

Birthplace: Warwick, Rhode Island

Years as a pro coach: 5

First time on skates: “I was 3 and I went to a public skate with my dad and sister. It was a really cold rink and I wore a snow suit. Once I got on the ice, I enjoyed it.”

First team: “It was Warwick Junior, the town team. We played in a house league and you had those early morning Saturday skates. It was a good experience going with your dad to the rink with all the local kids in the neighborhood. We always stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way home and I had a lot of fun.”

First coach that influenced you: “My dad (John). He had some playing experience and he introduced me to the game when I was young, whether it was learning how to skate or taking me to watch high school and college games. The person that introduces you to it always has the biggest impact.”

First goal that you remember: “It was in Mighty Mites and we played a game at Providence College. There was a lot of net because the goalies were so small. I got the puck in the slot. I remember it not only because it was the first time I scored, but I roofed it.”

First time you won anything in hockey: “We won the pee wee state championship when I was 11 or 12.”

First time hockey took you away from home: “I was 18. Rhode Island had a strong high school hockey following and, back in those days, you could play high school and go on. Leaving home for college to play hockey was an adjustment because I hadn’t gone to prep school or played junior. It was my first time away from home and on my own.”

First pro contract: “I had been coaching for a while and I had to make a decision as far as going on in the U.S. junior program and college or go into pro hockey. The fact that it was the Penguins and Wilkes-Barre, along with having the opportunity to work with Todd Reirden was something I was excited about. It was exciting for me and my family — my wife and two daughters at the time. I was looking forward to get into this next chapter of my life and once you make that decision it’s gratifying.”

First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “I had a couple of injuries in my freshman year of high school, just when you’re starting to get intense with hockey. I had shoulder and knee surgeries. Just being able to push through the injuries, rehab and play again taught me a lot of lessons about discipline and making the best of a situation.”

— Tom Venesky

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