New Jersey Devils Should Stick With Lindy Ruff Next Season

Head coach Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Head coach Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff’s tenure in New Jersey has not been great on paper. Currently, since the hiring of Ruff, the Devils record is 36-58-12 with a total of 84 pts dating back to Jan. 2021. It has been a rough (no pun intended) rollercoaster ride but the Devils need to stick with Ruff until the end of next season even if the Devils may finish in last place of the Metropolitan Division or NHL by the end of this season.

Ruff’s start with the Devils came as the team had not played in nine and half months after the first NHL pause in March 2020. If you remember, team meetings were conducted through video conferences and when they did finally get to practice together as a team, it was only a handful of practices before the start of the 2021 NHL season. While inheriting a young Devils squad and Corey Crawford‘s sudden retirement after being newly signed in free agency, Ruff had to rely on Mackenzie Blackwood along with a carousel of goaltenders to hold the fort.

And that has been the theme for this season as Jonathan Bernier has played only a handful of games before having season-ending surgery in January and Blackwood is still nursing his injured heel. Goaltending has been an issue that can’t really fall on Ruff. This one is on Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald for twice failing to find a bonafide veteran goaltender to go in tandem with Blackwood. After Corey Crawford retired prior to the 2021 season, he needed to make a successful play for a goalie this year. Although Akira Schmid and Nico Daws are thriving with the Utica Comets in the AHL, they are still developing and have looked overwhelmed at times when being called up to the Devils. You can’t blame this on Lindy Ruff.

In the past six weeks, the Devils’ special teams have dramatically improved since Jan. 4th with the Devils’ power play operating at a 22.7% success rate with 10 power-play goals and the penalty kill is at 89.5% kill rate. Although there is more room for improvement, this is a remarkable improvement and turnaround especially when the Devils were coming off from NHL historical special teams lows in the past 50 years. The Devils need to build on this success and I believe that this coaching staff, including Alain Nasreddine and Mark Recchi, can further build progress with this young team.

It will not be an easy 32 games to finish this season. Barring any Joe Judge-like coaching strategies in which you wave the surrender flag, the Devils should stick with Lindy Ruff till at least the end of the 2022-23 season because they need to have that continuity throughout this young team’s development. Ruff has a proven track record of winning and it is only a matter of time before this team will mature and finally start winning on a consistent basis within his system. The players have bought in and believe in it. Moreover, Lindy Ruff deserves an opportunity to coach this team.

dark. Next. Can Devils Finish Rebuild Before 2024-25 Season?

Stay Tough, Stick With Ruff.