The New Jersey Devils have made a decision to part ways with General Manager Ray Shero at the halfway point of the NHL season. Devils fans knew that former head coach John Hynes days were numbered when he was let go in December, but firing Shero comes as a complete shock. Whether you are a fan of Shero or not, now was not the right time to let him go. The decision to part ways with him now does no favors to those who thought that this once proud franchise is becoming a joke.
If we are being completely honest, the Devils were a complete and utter disaster when Ray Shero agreed to become the general manager. The team was devoid of any legitimate NHL talent and had no promising prospects in the pipeline to speak of. The Devils were years away from being able to even ice a competitive team.
The decision to fire Shero now comes at a curious time as it shows such incompetence for the franchise in what was going to be a long rebuild when he inked his name on the dotted line. Since his hiring, Shero has been responsible for adding talents in the system such as Kyle Palmieri, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Sami Vatanen, Jesper Bratt, Nikita Gusev, P.K. Subban, Jesper Boqvist and Ty Smith. He also has emphasized adding more speed and skill through the draft, and has given the team much-needed salary cap flexibility. He also added future MVP Taylor Hall, at the expense of Adam Larsson. Last but not least, the addition of Hall helped lead the Devils to their first playoff appearance since their unheralded Stanley Cup run in 2012.
Shero was not without his blemishes during his tenure as general manager. With the exceptions of no-brainer draft selections of Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, one has to wonder how good his drafts actually were. It is way too early to tell, but some prospects have not developed like one would hope.
Just like Shero should be applauded for acquiring Hall, he should also be criticized for the return, or lack there of in the aftermath of trading him to the Arizona Coyotes. Again, it will take years to fully analyze the return for Hall, but as of right now there are no sure thing assets the Devils received in return for him.
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If there was any discord, my guess is that it had to do with impending unrestricted free agent Sami Vatanen in the summer, next year’s unrestricted free agent Kyle Palmieri and the future direction of the franchise. Shero, as his history with the Devils indicates; was in all likelihood looking to deal those two for future assets, whereas ownership of the team wants to be more competitive sooner rather than later. The impulse decision to fire someone to win sooner than they’re ready to could possibly set the franchise back even more. The win now mentality could result in poor free agent signings and moving future assets to expedite the process.
The Devils made a curious move to part ways a man who had the Devils going in the right direction. The results are nowhere close to where fans want, but the future is bright. If owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer made this move because the team will not compete in the playoffs during the 2019-2020 season, then it is no question a mistake. Any successful franchise needs continuity, and firing a general manager midway through the season is surely not that. Ray Shero left his position in a lot better shape than he inherited it.