5 Decisions That Led To Failed New Jersey Devils Season

The New Jersey Devils season is essentially over after a Saturday night loss to the Ottawa Senators. Now, it's time to evaluate where Tom Fitzgerald failed in his decision making that led to a lost season in the middle of a contention window.

New Jersey Devils forwards Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes
New Jersey Devils forwards Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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A loss to the lowly Ottawa Senators on Saturday ended all hope for the New Jersey Devils and their playoff hopes. It is officially time to look forward at how they can best bounce back next season. There is no reason that this season shouldn't be an outlier. There is too much talent on this roster to lose any more seasons to mismanagement and singular issues.

This season was lost on mistakes. It was lost on the mistakes of goalies who were much worse than they were last season. It was lost on the mistakes of a defensive core that took six steps back from last season. The mistakes of a coaching staff that lost the magic of last season. However, the only connection to all of these mistakes is Tom Fitzgerald.

To be clear, we're still logical in thinking Tom Fitzgerald is the right person to lead this team to the next level, but we can also acknowledge this was his worst season at the top of the Devils front office. There were points in the seasn where the Devils still had a shot to make it back in the playoff race, but that dream is over. Now, one more time, let's look back and rank the decisions that cost the Devls their season.

5. Waiting to Fire Lindy Ruff

One might say that keeping Lindy Ruff over Andrew Brunette would be at the top of the list, but for now, we'll focus on Tom Fitzgerald's decision to let Lindy Ruff stay as head coach through some very choppy waters. The Devils have been mostly a disappointment from the beginning. It seemed like Fitzgerald hoped to get Ruff a better goalie to invigorate the team, but it never happened, and it cost Ruff his job.

However, Ruff did not have a good season and did not deserve a better fate. He was making mistakes in his usage of Timo Meier, Alexander Holtz, and even Jack Hughes at times. The power play went from the best in the league to the worst with no signs of adjustments after the Dougie Hamilton injury. There was no push for motivation and the losses to bad teams is the main reason why the Devils are in the place they are in today.

The Devils were always bad under Ruff against bad teams. Twelve of their 30 losses last season came at the hands of teams that missed the playoffs entirely. This season, the Devils have losses to the likes of the Sharks, Ducks (x2), Coyotes (x2), Blue Jackets, Blues, Canadiens, Flames, Capitals (x2), and now the Senators.

The Devils should dominate these games, and they should get up for these games. The fact they've given up the first goal of the season 50 times in 71 games is a massive problem. The team is not ready to start games. That's on the coach. The team turtled in hard times. That's more on the coach to get them out of this. The fact the coach showed he couldn't overcome these things but it took until February to make a move was a mistake.