The New Jersey Devils are sticking with head coach Lindy Ruff barring something astronomical. There was some question about the future of the head coaching position for the Devils. Some thought Ruff might be moved to the front office. The fact that the head coaching search was going slow gave hope/question that the Devils weren’t sure that the team was sticking with Ruff. The fact we’ve heard nothing to the contrary shows that it’s Lindy Ruff’s team next season.
The reason we’re now confident in the Devils’ decision is the pieces are starting to fall and the Devils aren’t even talking to these candidates. Bruce Cassidy was fired by the Boston Bruins and took a job with the Vegas Golden Knights. The former Knights coach Pete DeBoer took the open job in Dallas. John Tortorella is now the head coach in Philadelphia, and Barry Trotz seems destined to go to Winnipeg or that the year off so he can collect a free paycheck from Lou Lamoriello.
Meanwhile, the Devils are trying to figure out what to do next with the roster. Putting a coaching search at the feet of Tom Fitzgerald now when he has to figure out whether he wants to take Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec, or trade his first-round pick on top of major trades, Jesper Bratt‘s contract, and signing major free agents which could include Johnny Gaudreau would be outright insane. The Devils need to compartmentalize this offseason. Is Lindy Ruff the best coach that’s out there? Of course not, but the other options just don’t exist for them now that some of the best are getting jobs again.
There are two situations that could really throw this thing for a loop. One has been something we’ve talked about before. Rikard Gronberg is the head coach of the ZSC Lions in the National League. Gronberg is 53 years old, and he’s someone who’s been circling NHL jobs for a long time. If the Devils brought him in and let Ruff stay in some capacity, it could be a good landing for a first-time NHL coach.
The other situation is happening in Florida. The Panthers have not given Andrew Brunette a contract as the head coach. He took over as the interim head coach when the team ended its relationship with Joel Quenneville following the investigation into the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks. If the Panthers decide they want someone with more experience, and everything seems to be pointing that way, then the Devils could bring in a Jack Adams candidate off the streets. That could change their mindset.
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However, both of those options seem like serious long shots at this point. The Devils are likely going forward with Ruff as the head coach. He brought some positives to the table, but the enthusiasm of the fanbase is not going to be too high with him behind the bench.