NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators have extended the contracts of coach John Hynes and his assistants through the 2023-24 season, trying to build on a season with several individual successes for a franchise that wound up being swept in the playoffs for the first time.
General manager David Poile announced Thursday that Hynes and his assistants have agreed to the extensions.
“I believe John and his coaching staff are the right move to lead us back into Cup contention, and I will do everything in my power to give him the necessary tools to accomplish that goal," Poile said.
Poile hired Hynes in January 2020 to take over as Nashville's third head coach all-time, replacing Peter Laviolette. Hynes has won only three playoff games with the Predators, who have not won a postseason series since the first round in 2018 after winning the Presidents' Trophy with Laviolette.
That's despite a lineup with captain Roman Josi, a Norris Trophy finalist, posting the highest-scoring season by a defenseman in 29 years, goalie Juuse Saros, a Vezina Trophy finalist after notching 38 of Nashville's 45 wins, and Matt Duchene, who set the franchise's single-season, goal- scoring mark with 43, one more than Filip Forsberg.
Hynes said the Predators wanted to be hard to play against with an aggressive, fast style. The Predators led the NHL in fighting majors, total penalties and penalty minutes. Hynes said that's already an area where they are working to clean up penalties that playing with better discipline can avoid.
“We've all got to be better to get to a level where that series can be much more competitive than it was,” Hynes said.
Poile noted Thursday that Nashville has worked to turn one of the NHL's older rosters into one of the league's youngest. During the series with Colorado, only six Predators remained from that 2018 first-round win over the Avalanche: Josi, defenseman Mattias Ekholm, centers Ryan Johansen and Colton Sissons, Forsberg and Saros.
The general manager said the sweep at Colorado's hands made clear that Nashville is more than just one or two players away. Nashville did reach an eighth straight playoff berth, tied for second-most in the NHL with Washington and trailing only Pittsburgh's run, but Poile said his job is to get better talent for Hynes.
The plan to turn Nashville back into Stanley Cup contenders has the backing of the ownership group, something Poile talked repeatedly about over the past 10 days with team president Sean Henry and team chairman Herb Fritch.
“We have the group's full support,” Poile said.
Poile didn't have anything new to report on negotiations for a contract extension for Forsberg, who scored a career-high 42 goals in 69 games this season. Poile said Forsberg has earned the right to be a free agent but wants to keep him on the team.
“We are going to continue working to try to find that right deal that works for both sides, and we know that he can be a big piece of where we are trying to go," Poile said.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press