John Hynes will interview for the Penguins’ coaching vacancy next week, general manager Jim Rutherford confirmed Monday The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Hynes, 39, has spent the past five seasons with AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, including the last four as head coach. The AHL Penguins reached the Calder Cup semifinal round each of the past two postseasons.
Last week, when Hynes conducted exit interviews with his players at the Toyota Sportsplex, he was asked if he wasn’t interested in an NHL head coaching job this summer.
“Yes, it’s definitely of interest,” Hynes told The Times Leader last week. “Anyone that’s in the American Hockey League, you want to be able to get to the next level. It all depends on the right opportunity, but that’s the path anyone in the American Hockey League wants to do, is to try to get to the National Hockey League.”
Rutherford was hired last Friday as the 10th general manager for the Penguins, and he immediately fired Dan Bylsma as head coach.
Rutherford said then he had a short list of candidates to replace Bylsma, the Penguins’ leader in regular-season and playoff victories, and that official interviews will begin not before June 16.
The Penguins will have a new coach by July 1, when free agency begins, Rutherford said.
Bylsma, 43, lasted a franchise record five full seasons as Penguins’ coach. He has not been available for comment since his firing, though he was scheduled to join the NHL Network’s coverage for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.
The league reported in a news release that Bylsma would serve as a studio analyst.
Bylsma had two years remaining on a contract that will pay him around $2 million annually.
Under previous general manager Ray Shero, the system used by the Penguins’ coach was implemented throughout the organization.
Hynes was no exception, and neither was his success in the regular season. His clubs won at least 40 games every season, and he was the 2011 AHL Coach of the Year.
This past season, Hynes guided Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 42-26-8 mark in the AHL regular season despite playing without a handful of projected regulars because of the Penguins’ NHL-worst 529-man-games lost.
As a coach, Hynes is reputable as a defensive-minded teacher that is unafraid to challenge players. Penguins’ prospects to play under Hynes have described him as tough, but also honest and fair. Over the last two regular seasons Hynes’ teams allowed the fewest goals in the AHL.
He also is known for his in-series adjustments, including spearheading playoff victories when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton trailed 2-0 and 3-0, including coming back from an 0-3 series deficit against Providence to win in seven games in last year’s postseason.
Hynes has worked closely with Jason Botterill, Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin during his time with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Botterill, Fitzgerald and Guerin were each retained and promoted by Rutherford.