Lindy Ruff's Firing Is Too Little Too Late For New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils announced less than a week before the trade deadline that they fired head coach Lindy Ruff. While this is the right decision, one could argue that it should have happened much sooner.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five
New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils have done what many people did not think they would do and fired head coach Lindy Ruff. After yet another disastrous stretch, the Devils finally made the move fans and some media members have been asking for. The Devils still have some time in the season to make up some ground in the standings or sell at the deadline to get a better lottery position.

If they Devils are trying to stay relevant in the Eastern Conference standings, the firing of Ruff is too little and too late. This is something that should have happened at the earliest just before New Year's Eve. By now, the Devils are too far gone to have a realistic chance at the playoffs.

If they had followed the playbook of the Edmonton Oilers, a team with their own goaltending problems, the Devils could be in a much better spot this year. While Jay Woodcroft is a good coach, a change was needed at the top. After the change, Edmonton rallied to almost break the NHL's all-time win streak. This isn't to say the Devils would have gone on a streak of that magnitude, but one could argue that it could have been the spark they needed.

It seemed all too often the Devils would have one spectacular game only to be followed up with an abysmal loss. Many times this year, people asked questions about Ruff's lineup decisions or tactics. When Ruff did change tactics, those also came too late in games where the result did not matter.

Ruff had many losses this year that could have justified the firing. Both Anaheim losses, any of the loses against the Washington Capitals, or any other game where the Devils gave up five goals or more. Is there something to be said about the goaltending? Yes. But when Ruff willingly trotted out Vitek Vanecek multiple games in a row instead of giving him a break, those decisions came back to bite him.

If Tom Fitzgerald is looking for a spark to get this massively underachieving team going, he should have done this more than two months ago. The issues that have plagued the Devils all season became more apparent as the year progressed. Everyone, especially Timo Meier, took a step back.

Looking at what is left for the Devils this year, this is more to give Travis Green an audition for next season. If Ruff was fired around Christmas, it would have given the team more time to get used to Green in his system. With only two games before the trade deadline, it is all too little and too late.