Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

An Offseason of Change?

By now you’ve heard of the changes in Pittsburgh. Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma are out, Jim Rutherford is in, leaving a vacancy at the head coaching position.

Rutherford rode into Pittsburgh this past Friday and immediately terminated Bylsma. “Change” was a word that was tossed around. Rutherford has a short list of head coaching candidates that he was going to interview and wants to have someone installed by the end of the month, ideally.

One of those names, is the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, John Hynes.

It is a matter of time before John Hynes will be a head coach in the NHL. He’s too good of a coach at the AHL level not to be.

For those scoffing at the idea of Hynes getting the keys to the Pittsburgh Penguins, citing him unproven, I offer this: Using the inference that the AHL is a breeding ground for players, coaches and staff, Hynes has proven himself more than capable. He’s piloted the AHL Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals amid roster turnover and juggling a lineup eviscerated by injuries at the NHL level at a non-stop pace for two straight seasons.

Hynes expects a lot from his players. He holds his players accountable. Worried that Hynes would be Dan Bylsma Lite? Ask ex-Penguin Joe Morrow. Morrow, as you’ll recall, was traded to Dallas last year. He said on his way out the door that he was “nit picked.” Now here is Morrow, a high profile name out of the WHL, given no preferential treatment at the next level and broken down and built back up by Hynes and his staff.

Telling a rookie out of the Western Hockey League what to do in his own zone and holding him accountable is a bit different than telling Sidney Crosby what to do and how to do it, but if Pittsburgh wants a new direction, why not Hynes?

By no means am I forcing John Hynes out the door. Hell, selfishly, I hope Hynes stays the coach in Wilkes-Barre for years to come.

But that’s not how things operate in the AHL, it’s not just a developmental league for the players.

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