Gerard Gallant Should Push New Jersey Devils Further Towards Rikard Gronborg

Head Coach Rikard Gronborg of ZSC Lions. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)
Head Coach Rikard Gronborg of ZSC Lions. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils don’t have an envious coaching staff. Lindy Ruff did a fine job with the situation he was given in 2021, but it’s not like anyone would confuse him with one of the top coaches in the league. He’s also 61 years old, so it’s not out of the realm to ask how long he can keep up a head coaching gig. Eventually, it takes a lot out of the best coaches.

Ruff was a surprise hire last offseason. The Devils were talking to Peter Laviolette and Gerard Gallant, but they ended up hiring Ruff. Laviolette ended up coaching the Washington Capitals, who won the division the Devils play in and beat the Devils in every single meeting this season. Oh, and there were eight of them. Gallant just got named the head coach of the Devils biggest rival, the New York Rangers. So, now the Devils have to face the two names they declined last offseason about a dozen times combined per season.

The Devils need to make an upgrade behind the bench, and it seems plausible the Devils always had Ruff coming in on a short-term deal so they could eventually sign Rikard Gronborg.

Gronborg signed a long-term deal with his current team the Zurich Lions, but anything can change with a little money involved. In fact, Gronborg already interviewed with the Buffalo Sabres this offseason according to Darren Dreger of TSN.

Gronborg is universally considered the best coach not in the NHL or KHL. He’s been building his resumé for years. He’s been running this powerhouse Lions team for three years, he’s won gold medals at the World Championships as a head coach, he won a silver medal as an assistant coach at the 2014 Olympics, and he helped coach the team at the 2018 Olympics.

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He’s 52 years old, so this would be the time to finally make the jump into the NHL. Clearly, he’s considering it if he’s taking interviews with the Sabres. It would make a lot more sense for the Devils to pull this coach away to bring this team to salvation. They have a lot of overseas players, and they have a lot of young players who just want to right voice in the room. The veterans haven’t been around very long, so they won’t try to overstep his voice. It would make a lot of sense.

With the coaching staffs getting better in what will eventually become the Metropolitan Division again, the Devils need an upgrade. Ruff is a fine coach, and he’s great for now, but Gronborg is someone who can lead this team for the next decade. Ruff would hopefully stick around and move back into an associate head coaching role. Again, this would all have been discussed before he was even hired if this is how it would go. It would be incredibly smart by the Devils, and it would allow the Devils to show they had a plan all along when they let Gallant go and eventually coach their biggest rival.

A warning though, this is a massive long shot. It’s much more likely the Devils signed Ruff because he was the best bang for their buck. If Ruff is putting his coaching credentials against the likes of Gallant, Barry Trotz, Laviolette, and Rod Brind-Amour, it’s hard for him to compare. Gronborg’s credentials would be different, but at least his coaching style would be comparable. It would get the fans excited, and it could officially mark a new era for Devils hockey.