Comparing Lindy Ruff to His Competition In Metropolitan Division

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils have been struggling the last month or so, and continue to plummet in the Metropolitan Division. Obviously, there’s frustration amongst the fan base, players, coaching staff, and the entire organization. The last few games put the job security of head coach Lindy Ruff into question. A couple of his assistant coaches, Mark Recchi & Alain Nasreddine, have also faced their fair share of backlash due to their particular roles with the team.

Recchi is in charge of the power play, whereas Nasreddine oversees the defense and penalty kill. While both of those aspects contribute to the Devils being ranked very low in the power rankings, most of the blame is directed towards Ruff. He’s the guy in charge, and he’s the man who has to turn it around.

The clock seems to be ticking in terms of the Devils making another coaching change. As previously mentioned, Ruff hasn’t been the head coach too long in New Jersey. Maybe he just wasn’t the right person to lead this young team. However, hindsight is always 20/20. It also doesn’t help the fact that a few of the other coaches that Tom Fitzgerald was considering for the position are currently thriving. The Washington Capitals are led by Peter Laviolette, whereas the New York Rangers have Gerard Gallant at the helm. Those two coaches were Ruff’s main competition during the hiring process back in the Summer of 2020.

When comparing the overall team success this season between the Devils, Capitals, and Rangers, the difference is night and day. Both the Capitals and Rangers are currently competing for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Whereas the Devils are barely treading water in terms of trying to stay relevant in the standings. When looking at the numbers, it seems as though the Devils once again made an error in their hiring process. Both Gallant and Laviolette demonstrated better developmental skills compared to Ruff.

When looking at Laviolette and his situation, the argument could be made that he was gifted a very good team. Even though they struggle to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, the Capitals are a veteran-led team that values winning over everything.

However, that doesn’t mean that Laviolette’s skills should be diminished. Laviolette is a proven winner himself. He was able to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup title back in 2006. He was also able to take two different organizations (Philadelphia Flyers & Nashville Predators) to the Stanley Cup Final as well. He’s also been known to have a knack for liking young players since he was given a lot of credit for surging goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s career in Philadelphia.

As for Gallant, the Devils certainly missed out on another golden opportunity. Because the Rangers’ roster structure is very similar to the Devils, he seems like a fit. When David Quinn led the Rangers for three seasons, they were always a fringe playoff team, missing twice during his tenure. However, once Gallant took over they are now a top team in the Metropolitan Division. Gallant was also able to take the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals a few years ago in their inaugural season. So, given how successful both coaches have been in recent years this certainly doesn’t make Ruff or the Devils organization look good. It seems as though the Devils missed out on a couple of opportunities to really shapeshift their organization.