New Jersey Devils Must Keep Tom Fitzgerald Long Term

New Jersey Devils owner Joshua Harris (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils owner Joshua Harris (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Based on this headline, some of you reading this may be confused. When it comes to New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald‘s contact, you should be confused. Elliotte Friedman has said in his 31 Thoughts column, that Fitzgerald’s contract is around three to four years long. However, the ‘general manager’ term is only for one year.

There are multiple reasons as to why this is interesting. It was only made more intriguing by the sudden departure of Jim Rutherford as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fitzgerald’s name was thrown around on a few broadcasts as a possible replacement for Rutherford. Brian Burke even suggested the Devils could let Fitzgerald out of his contract. Common sense would suggest that this would be a very bad idea.

We don’t know the specifics of the contract other than the term. Maybe there is weird wording in the contract where they cannot extend Fitzgerald’s current title. Ownership needs to figure out how to keep Fitzgerald around long term. Fitzgerald has done nothing but positive things for the Devils organization since he took over for Ray Shero midway through last season. He has been able to acquire good prospects and draft picks for expiring deals and Blake Coleman, showing he is more than capable of making smart moves. He has remained adamant on being smart with the salary cap and his team is set for the next few years with cap space. Many pundits were happy Fitzgerald got the job and said that he earned it. He has earned trust from the fan base, and then some.

Why Fitzgerald’s name came up with the Penguins should be obvious. Being Shero’s right-hand man, Fitzgerald spent time in Pittsburgh’s front office during their first Stanley Cup trip in the Sidney Crosby era. Fitzgerald is held in high regard with Mario Lemieux who happens to be the owner of the Penguins.

While the Penguins would love to have him, the Devils would be regretting letting Fitzgerald take over a division rival, pandemic or not. Fitzgerald’s potential departure would be the worst-case scenario for the Devils. It is possible Martin Brodeur would take over, but the goaltending legend seems happy with where he is now.

Other names came up for the open job in Pittsburgh, like Mike Gillis who reportedly interviewed for the New Jersey job when Fitzgerald still had the interim tag. Pierre McGuire, yes that Pierre, is also a viable candidate for the job. The farther away from Fitzgerald the Penguins’ eyes are the better. Fitzgerald may not even want the job in the first place. The Penguins have three aging gunslingers in Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang, and no notable prospects in the pipeline. Though the future doesn’t seem bright in the Steel City but never count out Crosby. Fitzgerald may not want to go from a rebuilding team to one that will be rebuilding as soon as next season.

Next. How Devils Turned Jason Arnott Into Shakir Mukhamadullin. dark

Earlier Saturday, Pierre LeBrun reported that the Penguins would like to start interviewing and hire a replacement for Rutherford within the next two to three weeks. Also while writing this post, Friedman has said the Devils are not willing to let Fitzgerald out of his contact or interview with the Penguins which is a smart move. However the fact that Fitzgerald’s candidacy for an opening while being the current general manager for a team is deeply concerning. With his general manager contract apparently up after this season, he would be free to become the general manager for a team it would seem. Whatever it would take to keep Fitzgerald around in the spot he is proven to be successful in, Josh Harris and David Blitzer need to do it.