The New Jersey Devils took eight months to make a terrible coaching move.
Ray Shero came to the podium to address the media on December 3rd, 2019. The New Jersey Devils were moving on from John Hynes, and they were naming Alain Nasreddine as the interim head coach. The Devils were wildly underwhelming, and after “winning the offseason”, they started the season losing six-straight games, and they ended up with a 9-13-4 record when Hynes was ousted.
Things were at a low point, or so we thought. Then, the next eight months brought us the trading of our star (Taylor Hall), captain (Andy Greene), fan-favorite (Blake Coleman), big free-agent signing (Wayne Simmonds), the once savior defenseman (Sami Vatanen), the firing of Shero, a global pandemic, a million rumors about who the Devils were interviewing for head coach and GM, and yet somehow today is the maddest the fanbase is. This is why:
Kevin Weekes of the NHL Network reports that the Devils have hired Lindy Ruff as the new head coach. This is an awful, awful decision. This is just plain terrible. Reports said they interviewed Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant, John Stevens, and Alain Nasreddine to fill the position. There were rumors they were also interested in Rickard Gronberg who’s coaching in Switzerland right now. Their final decision was New York Rangers assistant Lindy Ruff.
How did this happen? What could they possibly see in this? We’re going to be honest, we’re too blindly mad to go through the advanced stats right now, but they weren’t good with the Rangers. Ruff was in charge of the defense. Don’t let Adam Fox’s ascent to the top of the hockey world distract you from the fact a lot of the Rangers defensemen fell back.
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The Devils needed someone who could coach defense, and they picked someone who’s defenses were playing terribly right across the river. You know it’s bad when the Rangers fans are celebrating a New Jersey Devils hire.
The Devils have been making bad decision after bad decision for years since Lou Lamoriello left the organization. Honestly, his decisions weren’t great towards the end. Somehow, this might be the worst one. With Laviolette available, with Gallant available, with so many coaching candidates available, the Devils picked a man in his 60s who was once great but appears to have watched the game pass him by.
Ruff is going to be in charge of a Devils team that wants to “win now” yet has a roster that’s depleted, is mostly very young, needs a major boost from P.K. Subban, and hopes to not need to ride Mackenzie Blackwood to relevancy. The Devils picked a coach that wasn’t right for any of this.