New Jersey Devils Name Lindy Ruff As Head Coach And Tom Fitzgerald As GM

Lindy Ruff
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 11: Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff watch his team in the second period during a game between the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks on December 11, 2016, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils announced they have hired Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. In addition, removed the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald promoting him to the full-time general manager as well as the Executive Vice President.

Devils Name Lindy Ruff As Head Coach

There were several candidates the Devils interviewed for the position including Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, John Stevens, and former interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. However, it was Ruff that got the position replacing Nasreddine as the coach. Ruff is currently the assistant coach of the New York Rangers and the former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres (1997-2013) and Dallas Stars (2013-2017). Ruff has coached in 1,493 games with a record of 736-554-78-125. He also has a postseason record of 66-54 a winning percentage of .550.

Ruff brings style the Devils desperately need. New Jersey has talked about being a fast-paced hockey team, yet they have come up short in that category especially after their trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018. The Devils near the bottom of the league in goal differential as well as goals for. They need to clean that area up. While he may not be the sexy pick amongst Devils fans, he knows how to get teams to the playoffs. Something the Devils have done only twice since 2010.

In addition, Ruff has the ability to coach players with high offensive talent. Just look at what he did with players like Chris DruryDaniel BriereTyler SeguinJamie Benn, and others. Ruff turned them into solid players and let their offensive ability shine. Under Ruff, Benn won the Art Ross Trophy in 2015. Who knows he could turn Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes into the players they can be. There is something about having a proven NHL head coach behind the bench. Ruff also brought the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999 losing to the Stars in six games.

Tom Fitzgerald Named General Manager

When the Devils removed Ray Shero back in January as the general manager of the Devils, the team slapped the interim tag on Tom Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was thrown into a difficult position having worked with Shero for a long time. However, Fitzgerald performed admirably and earned the position for his work done at the trade deadline. Fitzgerald was able to get value for players like Andy Greene, Blake Coleman, Sami Vatanen, and Wayne Simmonds. Not to mention his best decision was not to trade leading scorer Kyle Palmieri. Fitzgerald knew the Devils needed scoring and why trade away something the team is lacking.

Ever since Fitzgerald arrived in New Jersey, he brought something to the hockey operations department that was missing. It appears that Fitzgerald is on the same wavelength as ownerships and proved to them he can get the job done. In addition, Fitzgerald can fulfill ownership’s vision whatever that is.

What It All Means

The Devils need to get these hires right as the organization cannot go through this same process a couple of years of now. New Jersey was known for having stability within the organization. Now there has been so much turnover they have become the Cleveland Browns of the NHL. That is due to a lack of vision. With everything now in place, it is now time for the Devils to take the next step in the process as they look to get back to being a contending team in the NHL. With Fitzgerald at the helm, the Devils can focus on the NHL Draft whenever that is, as they potentially have three first-round draft picks to add to this young team.

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Jim is a 2008 graduate of Saint Michaels College who is currently writing about the NHL for Last Word on Hockey. His work includes writing about the New Jersey Devils as well as NHL Notebooks for the Metro and Central Division. Jim has a passion for the game of hockey. As one coach put it "he is the student of the game." When Jim is not writing he can be found at the local rinks playing or being a referee. Throughout his time in the game, Jim continues to coach a local high school team. In addition, he broadcasted several New Jersey Junior Rockets games for the Eastern Hockey League. Reach him on Twitter: @JimBiringer

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