The Game Haus

New Jersey Devils Hire Lindy Ruff as Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils hired Lindy Ruff as the head coach July 9. The Devils finished the season with a 28-29-12 record missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. Ruff replaces interim coach Alain Nasreddine who recorded a 19-16-8 record during his coaching tenure with the Devils.

From John Hynes to Lindy Ruff

Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes
John Hynes is now the head coach for the Nashville after the New Jersey Devils fire Hynes on Dec. 3, 2019. Image courtesy: Nam Y. Huh

Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes had been coaching the Devils from 2015-2019 recording a 354-150-159 record. The Devils fire Hynes on Dec. 3, 2019 and Nasreddine was named as interim head coach. Nasreddine was able to help the young Devils team regain some confidence during his tenure. Maybe you can even say that the departure of Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes played a part. Ruff comes in with a 736-554-78-125 record over his 19 year coaching career with most of his wins coaching the Buffalo Sabres.

Tom Fitzgerald, the former interim general managers for the Devils, got the interim tag off his title July 9. “It was evident that Tom was the right person for this job,” Devils co-owner David Blitzer said. “We’re very excited to remove that interim tag.”

How Lindy Ruff came to New Jersey

The Devils were interviewing possible candidates for the head coach position including Nasserdine. Some of the other candidates were Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens. Some reports say that these interviews lasted up to five hours. The main premise of the interviews was to discuss the coaches’ systems and how each candidate meshed with Fitzgerald’s way of how the team should play. “I was looking for NHL head coaching experience; for someone that could walk into a room and grab the attention of our young team [because] the group needs a teacher. The more we kept digging, the more Lindy kept rising.”

Ruff not only coached for the Sabres. He coached for the Dallas Stars for four years as well.

Ruff’s coaching history

Former New York Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff (right)
Lindy Ruff (right) is the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils replacing interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. Image courtesy: Gene J. Puskar

Ruff has been coaching in the NHL since 1993 starting with the Florida Panthers as an assistant coach. He got his first head coaching job at Buffalo in 1997 and coached there for 15 years recording a 571-432-78-84 record. Ruff then went to Dallas to coach the Dallas Stars from 2013-2017 recording a 328-165-122-41 record. Ruff says that his coaching style changes depending on the way the players should play like. “I’ve had teams where I was criticized for coaching too offensive,” Ruff said.

Fitzgerald says that the current Devils coaching staff will have the opportunity to meet Ruff and discuss the future of the team. Nasreddine will remain in the Devils’ coaching staff. Fitzgerald says that Nasserdine “has proven to be one of the best penalty-kill coaches in the league, which is a thing we need.”

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