Whether as an Average Coach or an Excellent Scapegoat, John Hynes Can't be More Than a Couple Embarrassing Efforts From the Unemployment Line
Welp, here we are. From floating on Cloud #9 to seeming depressingly destined to bid an eventual farewell to #9 while dick-deep in Shit's Creek without a paddle in sight. When an unprecedentedly promising season opened, less than two weeks ago, it was implausible that we'd be discussing John Hynes' job security like it were as weak as the one-ply the Devils' are apparently using to plug their leaky team defense prior to people purchasing their Halloween costumes. Then again, the only reason I didn't use the word 'impossible' is because that is reserved for a shockingly incompetent start that somehow has a playoff berth looking like a pipe dream with 76 whole games left to loathe, cry, or sleep through. Not even the most eternally pessimistic Devils' fan, of which there are many, would have envisioned this organization needing this quick of a courtesy flush. However, with the long overdue induction of a new era of hockey in New Jersey increasingly resembling a clogged crapper, fans almost have no choice but to have their finger on the trigger in being more than ready to send John Hynes swirling into unemployment.
Personally, I don't think that merely appearing to pick the lineups out a dunce cap warrants such a swift ousting of a head coach who has been tasked with the unforgiving job of turning a ton of new talent into a cohesive team. To say the Devils look be on the same page systemically would be like giving a 5-star review to a self-help book authored by an unmedicated schizophrenic, but I highly doubt the drawing board is chalked to the gills with new and "improved" ways in which professional athletes can blindly turn the puck over in their own zone like visually-impaired pee-wees. Many of the mistakes being routinely made at a nauseating rate are some bantam league bullshit, so pinning the entirety of the tail on the donkey behind the bench is to play the blame game at a novice level. Both the powerplay and the penalty kill, that were presumably granted a false sense of security by going up against each other all camp, are defiantly defying the laws of probability in being an obvious indictment of a team that couldn't possibly appear more ill-prepared. That, along with a defensive system that's approximately as effective as repeatedly jamming their dicks into a doorknob, certainly falls at the feet of the head coach. Every half-witted mismanagement of the puck that has enabled each and every inexcusably embarrassing effort, on the other hand, does not.
For that reason, I actually don't take issue with Ray Shero's first state of the union being a direct challenge to those most capable of and most responsible for flipping the franchise's fortunes...
As someone with a lot of respect for Tom Fitzgerald as both a talent evaluator and a hockey mind that doesn't pull any punches, I'm fine with him being brought down to ice-level to offer his insight, even if it does feel like giving a single crutch to a head coach that has no legs to stand on...
That being said, I'm "fine" in the way that a scorned woman might be "fine" because if things don't change both drastically and almost immediately then there should be hell to pay with only one person to be realistically be sacrificed in financing the fanbase's fury. If the Devils head into what could quite literally be a bye week with two more uncompetitive no-shows on a winless resume, the question shouldn't be whether or not John Hynes is the entirety of the problem. The question should be whether or not what he brings to the table as a communicator and a motivator after four predominantly dogshit seasons is worth watching a particularly important fifth one prove all-too-familiarly irrelevant as the New Jersey Devils get deservingly tabbed as Edmonton Oilers East.
Honestly, if the team continues to look like the result of a yips epidemic as a group that should probably be wearing name tags on the front of their jerseys instead of name plates on the back - as they appear to know each other about as well as a randomly selected jury - then the verdict shouldn't take too much longer to come in. There's currently no blame to be directed Ray Shero, but that will change extremely quickly if he doesn't do absolutely everything in his power to squeeze something mildly successful out of the skill he acquired over the summer. After preaching patience, annually and ad nauseam, he can't play the waiting game while the expectations he created over the offseason continue to go comically unfulfilled while a flustered fanbase loses hope faster than the Devils lose a multi-goal lead.
I've liked the cut of John Hynes' jib for quite some time and I have no idea if the solution to a contagious lack of confidence is to simply bring in a new voice to tell the players the myriad of ways in which they are setting the sport of hockey back beyond all recognition. However, if an unrecognizably in sync team doesn't soon take the ice - starting tonight against a hated divisional rival - then I see very few legitimate reasons not to say "fuck it" and find out if changing the messenger helps to clean up a complete mess that's been made by far, far more than one person.