New Jersey Devils Will Have Best Head Coaching Job Available

With Lindy Ruff out, Tom Fitzgerald will undergo the most important task he'll have the face as general manager of the New Jersey Devils; find the next head coach. Despite a poor 2023-24 season, the Devils should be the most sought after job for any head coaching candidate this summer.

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Lindy Ruff's three-year, five-month-long reign as the head coach of the New Jersey Devils ended earlier this week. After one playoff appearance and a 128-125-28, Ruff was finally put out of his misery in what has been a house of horrors kind of season.

What the organization decides to do between now and next October will likely shape the outcome of this franchise and its young core for the next decade. We have well chronicled what's gone wrong, what's gone right, some of the fallout, and even who the next man behind the bench may be.

With Ruff out and Travis Green finishing out the season as the interim head coach, general manager Tom Fitzgerald will embark on the most important coaching search he'll ever do. That being said when the season ends and the dust settles, there may not be a better job opening than the Devils job.

Despite all the turmoil that's gone on this season, there would be plenty to be excited about for perspective coaches. First and foremost is the young yet playoff-experienced nucleus of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. Add in Timo Meier locked in for seven more years, a hard-working two-way forward in Dawson Mercer, and a young defense core consisting of Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, and eventually Seamus Casey, and there's a lot to like about the roster.

The biggest question mark surrounding the current roaster is the goaltender. However, it's well documented that goaltending is Fitzgerald's number-one priority this offseason. Any coach coming in should be comfortable knowing that they will have a bonafide number one between the pipes for them.

Any new coach coming in should also see the 2022-23 Devils as a blueprint for what kind of team they can be. The prospect of coaching a young group already with playoff experience poised to take the jump to Stanley Cup contenders is a far cry from what this job was back in the summer of 2020. Say what you'd like about Lindy Ruff, but he did much of the leg work getting this team from being inexperienced and just trying to keep their head above water to a young group that's had a taste of the playoffs and is primed to be a league powerhouse for the next 10 years. A different voice in the room could give them that little (or big, depending on your opinion of these players) nudge to get them there.

Another factor that makes the Devils' job so enticing is the lack of intense media pressure. Sure, when things go bad the coach will face scrutiny from the media and fans, but that happens in all 32 markets. In New Jersey, the lack of mainstream media coverage compared to the Canadian markets or other larger American markets (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles) is night and day. To be realistic, there may be about a half dozen reporters that cover the Devils. The noise from the outside is not nearly as loud as it is for most coaches in the NHL. It began to ramp up for Lindy Ruff primarily due to the success of last season and the subsequent disappointment this season.

Whenever Fitzgerald officially begins his search for the next head coach, there will be a lot of positives for him to sell potential candidates on. We've all heard him give the state of New Jersey glowing reviews about how great it is to live here. Now, he can pitch them on an opportunity to coach a ready-made championship team in waiting. Times have been tough for the Devils this season, but this is a great team with loads of potential and is a job that every head coaching candidate should be after.