Hynes on ice as Devils coach, works with prospects at camp
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A little more than a month after being named coach of the New Jersey Devils, John Hynes was back in his comfort zone.
The NHL's youngest head coach was on the ice Monday working with the Devils' top prospects and free agents in an offseason development camp.
The 40-year-old Hynes wasn't installing the Devils' new system for the upcoming season. That will come later when the veterans arrive in late summer for training camp.
Monday's classroom sessions and split workouts are teaching tools, relaying core concepts to fresh-faced teenagers, college students and a couple young professionals to carry them throughout their careers.
The message is clear: Play fast, control the puck and be aggressive. It's the up-tempo hockey that new general manager Ray Shero has promised in taking over a once-proud franchise that missed the playoffs the past three seasons.
''This is the part that you really love, when you get in and work with the players, and met with the coaches and prepare for practice,'' Hynes said after the workouts ended. ''It's a great run-through going into training camp.''
Hynes is clearly going to be a hands-on coach. He skated on the ice for the first session, spread pucks on the ice, moved the net, spray-painted a line down the center of the ice and then talked to players as they circled the ice in warmups.
Defenseman Steve Santini, who will be a junior at Boston College next season, spent a couple moments with Hynes before the opening workout. They talked about New England and some hockey. Hynes played at Boston University.
''He has emphasized the team is going to be fast, attacking and supportive,'' Santini said. ''Those are three qualities that any successful team has.''
The camp isn't only for newcomers. Defenseman Damon Severson, who played in 51 games with the Devils last season, and forward Reid Boucher, who skated in 11 contests, were invited to the camp because they are on entry-level contracts.
Hynes said it will give them a chance to get the meet the new coaching staff and develop leadership roles with the young prospects.
''From what I can tell so far, he's a real down to earth guy,'' Severson said. ''He takes the time of day to really sit down and talk to you and make sure you understand what is going on.''
Severson also liked that Hynes kept things loose by tripping assistant coach Alain Nasreddine during an early drill.
''Inadvertent stick,'' Hynes quipped.
There are some players who have a chance at making the jump to the top club.
Center Pavel Zacha, the sixth pick in the recent draft, was in good shape and showed an ability to handle the puck.
Joe Blandisi signed after leading the Ontario Hockey League with 52 goals for Barrie, while fellow forward John Quenneville signed a three-year entry contract Monday after scoring 10 goals in 19 playoff games for Brandon (WHL). He had 17 in the regular season.
The second cousin of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the pace was much higher than last year's development camp run by Pete DeBoer, who was fired in December.
Hynes said no one is going to make the team in this weeklong camp, but they can make an impression, just as he has.
''On the hockey side, he is really intense,'' John Quenneville said of Hynes. ''He has high attention to detail, higher attention to detail than I have ever seen. He is always talking about the little things, the specifics of the game. I always enjoy learning from different coaches and the different ways they see the game.''