New Jersey Devils Should Hire Gerard Gallant Now

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights looks on during the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 3, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights looks on during the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 3, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are currently playing alright under interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. However, with Gerard Gallant on the market they should pounce on him before someone else does.

It has been one of the weirdest years for coaches in NHL history. We understand the firings of Bill Peters and Jim Rutherford. Teams cannot hold on to coaches, no matter how good, if they are a PR nightmare and an ethical dilemma. However, Peter DeBoer, Peter Laviolette, John Hynes, and now Gerard Gallant were all fired for on the ice issues, and it was a relief. Especially when the New Jersey Devils fired Hynes. Mike Babcock is still up in the air what happened there.

Either way, of all those coaches, the only one who really feels like a fit for the Devils and where they’re going is Gallant. Hynes and DeBoer are Devils retreads. Laviolette is not an offensive minded coach, and needs star defenders to succeed. Babcock is the right coach for a team on the cusp. Gallant can get the best out of his talent.

While with the Vegas Golden Knights, all Gallant did was take a team that most people thought would be close to last in the league and take them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Then, the next year, they were a really bad major penalty call from at least going to the second round. He has taken this team to heights we didn’t know possible for an expansion team.

Then, they fired him for some reason even the experts are trying to figure out. Maybe they fell in love with Peter DeBoer, who was already announced as his replacement, or maybe there was something just not clicking with the players this season. Vegas is a cap team, and they spent all this money to get themselves a Stanley Cup.

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Either way, if the Devils truly want to “win now” without mortgaging the future, Gallant is the right man for the job. There are a lot of players on this Devils team that needs a coach to get the best out of them. Off the top of our heads, Miles Wood, Will Butcher and Pavel Zacha come to mind. This isn’t even including Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev and Blake Coleman, who have been really good this season, but Gallant could take them to another level.

Gallant was even good in Florida for the short amount of time they gave him to do his thing. He took over a team that was second to last in the Atlantic Division, and eventually brought them to the top of the division. He was fired in an embarrassing way, being sent home in a taxi on a road trip.

This is the second time Gallant has been fired out of the blue, in the middle of the season. He’s had positive point percentages in every season since he was fired by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007. That kind of winning culture is what the Devils need. The man in charge has to bring that culture to the team.

The Golden Knights have been kind of in the middle this year in offense and defense, but we’re still seeing him get the best out of players like Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and Nate Schmidt. If he can get really good play out of them, imagine what he could do with the likes of P.K. Subban and Palmieri?

Then, there’s the real reason we’re here. There are two players that interim GM Tom Fitzgerald and owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer need to keep in mind when they hire their next head coach. It has everything to do with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. They need to develop. It’s the most important aspect of the Devils future. It’s even more important than developing Mackenzie Blackwood, because eventually they can find someone on the free agent market.

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We see Gallant putting Hischier and Hughes in a position to succeed, and help them build chemistry with lines that take them to another level. We see with Alain Nasreddine just letting them establish themselves with their linemates, it’s made both players a lot better. Hischier is becoming a bonafide stud, while Hughes has struggled some his rookie year. He is making the best out of playing with Miles Wood and Wayne Simmonds. This is all probably a move to make things better in the future.

Gallant is the right choice as head coach for this team. The Devils need to make a move for him now with so many other coaching openings across the league. We haven’t even seem most of the firings we expected at this point. Even if Fitzgerald isn’t supposed to have the power to make the move, the owners need to hire this coach. There are rarely the opportunities to make this happen this quickly.