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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3. Re-signing McLeod

Alright, we just mentioned it, but we have to go in depth. This decision has had a major impact on the team. There is no doubt that this team looks completely different now than it did before Michael McLeod was arrested. His absence impacts more than just what he was doing on the ice.

He was having his best season, scoring a career high 10 goals before his arrest. He was also one of the best faceoff men in the NHL. His impact on this team is hard to replace. Yet, there was always a chance that the Devils were going to have to do it. 

Hindsight is always 20-20. Looking at it today, and everyone would say the Devils should have replaced McLeod last offseason if there was evidence he was involved in the heinous accusations tied to the 2018 Hockey Canada team. However, it’s just hard to blame Fitzgerald for the situation. 

Most teams treat their players as innocent until proven guilty. That’s how it worked for Patrick Kane, Evander Kane, and others who were accused of crimes but never officially charged. Yet, this was too important a position for the Devils to trust to a player who may (and ended up being) in a desperate position. Fitzgerald already made the bold move, denying McLeod’s qualifying offer and letting him go to free agency. However, he followed that up with a one-year deal. Now, the Devils are stuck in a position to replace him long term.