Who Could Be New Jersey Devils Next Head Coach After Lindy Ruff Firing?

Lindy Ruff's time as the head coach of the New Jersey Devils is officially over. General Manager Tom Fitzgerald now faces the biggest decision of his Devils tenure when he begins his head coaching search. There are plenty of good options, but who is the right one to take a budding young Devils team to the top?

New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks
New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages
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Todd Nelson - Hershey Bears Head Coach

Rather than opting for the head coach of the second-best team in the AHL, why not go for the head coach of the number-one team in the AHL? In his first year as head coach of the Hershey Bears, he guided them to a Calder Cup championship and looks on track for a repeat as Hershey sits comfortably atop the AHL standings. Nelson has plenty of experience at both the NHL and AHL levels. In the NHL, he served as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars from 2018-2022, spent time as an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers from 2008-2010, and was the interim head coach for the Edmonton Oilers from 2014-15. At the AHL level, Nelson has 10 years of head coaching experience between the Oklahoma City Barons, Grand Rapid Griffins, and Hershey Bears.

The most recent Hershey Bears head coach to go to the NHL is current Washington Capitals coach Spencer Carbery. Despite roster limitations, he's found a way to have them in the playoff hunt. Nelson could be next in line of Hershey Bears' coaches who have an impact at the NHL level. Also, as an assistant in Dallas, Nelson spent time working under recent Jack Adams winner Jim Montgomery. Based purely on recent pedigree, Nelson would be a solid choice as the next coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Craig Berube - Former St. Louis Blues Head Coach

It's no secret that the Devils are a soft team. They are designed that way. Their roster is constructed to play a speed and finesse game. However, they showed in last year's first round against the New York Rangers that they can play with a bit of bite. There may be no better coach out there who can get them to play with that bite consistently more than Craig Berube. Berube is famously known for turning the St. Louis Blues season around and guiding them to a championship back in 2019. He then guided them to three consecutive playoff births before falling short last season and getting fired early this season.

How he was fired from St. Louis caused a bit of controversy after all he had done for them, but he would be a stern voice in a Devils locker room that needs it. The biggest question mark would be if he can win with a more skilled team than he had in St. Louis. While the team he won a championship with had skill, they relied heavily on grit and determination to wear down teams. Berube would be a 180-degree turn from the kind of coach Lindy Ruff was, but maybe that's what this team needs right now.