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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Joe Sacco - Boston Bruins Assistant Coach

Tom Fitzgerald has not been shy in the past in admitting he wants to build his team like the Boston Bruins have. While he may have meant that from a team building, players taking less money to win championships side, he could look to pry away their top assistant. No matter the coach, the Bruins have been one of the top teams in the league for a while now, and Joe Sacco has gone along for the ride for most of it. After a stint as Colorado Avalanche head coach from 2009-2013, Sacco has spent the last 10 seasons as an assistant with the Bruins.

Sacco has been integral to a team that's made it to the Stanley Cup finals, broke the NHL single-season point record, is a perennial playoff team, and is one of the best defensive teams in the league every year. Over the past 10 years, the Bruins have shown that they can play any style of hockey. They can be flasBoston Bruins culturehy on offense when needed, but can also hunker down defensively and outwork the opposition. Sacco has been in charge of the Bruins's penalty kill, which is consistently at the top of the league every year. With some head coaching experience on his resume, and a decade soaking in the culture that is the Boston Bruins, do not be surprised if Sacco is at the top of the head coaching list in the summer.

Jay Leach - Seattle Kraken Assistant Coach

We recently talked extensively about Seattle Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach but decided to throw him into the mix. Leach was one of the finalists for the head coaching job in Boston before they decided to go with Montgomery. If the last name sounds familiar to some, it's because it should. Leach is a former Devils defenseman, having spent parts of five years in the organization. Leach spent five years as the head coach of the Providence Bruins of the AHL before joining Dave Hakstol's staff in Seattle in 2021.

Year after year, Seattle's defense has improved, and they now sit in the top five for 5v5 goals against. What Leach and Seattle have also done a nice job of is developing defensemen. Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson have become stalwart top-pairing defensemen and they've gotten a lot out of young defensemen like William Borgen and Ryker Evans. The big risk that comes with hiring Leach is that he would be a first-time NHL head coach. Tom Fitzgerald may only get one more coaching hire before he's the one getting axed, so it would be tough to envision him hiring someone with no NHL head coaching experience.