Why Jack Hughes Serves as a Cautionary Example for John Hynes…

For the past three years, Jack Hughes has proven himself as one of the world’s top players, amassing an impressive record of 76 goals and 181 points in his last 142 games.

His remarkable 1.27 points per game ties him with Auston Matthews for fifth place in the NHL, trailing only Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nikita Kucherov, and Nathan MacKinnon during that period.

However, the focus on Hughes is not for his current success but rather for the time he spent under the coaching of John Hynes. This might raise concerns for Minnesota Wild fans as they recently appointed Hynes as their head coach.

While the Wild are embracing a youth movement, none of their prospects matches Hughes’ exceptional talent. Nevertheless, Hughes faced challenges in producing points during his initial two seasons with the Devils, raising worries for Minnesota fans about whether Hynes can maximize the potential of their young players.

Despite Hughes’ initial struggles under Hynes, it’s essential to note that this difficulty spanned only 24 games in Hughes’ rookie season. Hynes’ departure did not immediately lead to Hughes’ ascent to superstardom, and the concern arises regarding Hynes’ ability to unlock the potential of other promising players in the Wild system.

Hughes did exhibit relative productivity under Hynes, scoring four goals and 11 points in those 24 games. While not groundbreaking, these numbers were notable for a teenager transitioning from the U.S. National Development Program to the NHL, pacing for a 35-plus point season.

Comparing Hynes’ coaching to interim coach Alain Nasreddine, Hughes’ production declined significantly in the latter part of the season, with only three goals and 10 points in the final 37 games. This trend contrasted with his earlier improvement under Hynes.

The subsequent season under new coach Lindy Ruff saw a modest improvement in Hughes’ performance, with 11 goals and 31 points in a COVID-shortened 56-game season. However, it wasn’t until Hughes’ second season with Ruff that he experienced a breakout campaign, recording 26 goals and 56 assists in 49 games.

While concerns about Hynes’ handling of young players persist, particularly with examples like Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt taking time to reach their potential, Hughes’ specific case under Hynes may not be the most compelling evidence against the coach. It’s crucial not to hastily indict Hynes for hindering Hughes’ development, especially considering Hughes’ eventual success under different coaching conditions.

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