Almost everything about the lengthy and tedious research of the Devils general manager and head coach in the spring-summer was very different from what any professional sports franchise had ever conducted.
Co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer spent almost four months interviewing GM candidates while letting Tom Fitzgerald, their acting general manager, manage the coaching situation, which was not really a vacancy because Alain Nasreddine was still there on an interim basis.
Meanwhile, the global pandemic has not led to any face-to-face meetings, and on Thursday the Devils had a brand new unveiling announcing Lindy Ruff as their new coach and Fitzgerald remains as general manager in a video call to media.
“I’m probably the first coach to be introduced by Zoom,” said Ruff with a smile. “So I’m going to have it on my brand too!” “
His CV is impressive. Although Ruff has never won a Stanley Cup in 10 seasons as a player, seven as an assistant coach and 19 as a head coach, his 736 coaches have won sixth place overall. He also won an Eastern Conference championship as a head coach and assistant.
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Now 60, Ruff is back as a leader to take even more chances to run after this elusive championship after spending the last three seasons on the New York side of the Hudson River as an assistant Rangers.
“Super excited to be part of the Devils family,” said Ruff. “Going through this process just seemed perfect to me. “
Here are 5 points to remember from the Devils video call:
1. WHY RUFF?
Fitzgerald didn’t want to name names, but he would have interviewed most of the greatest coaches available before choosing Ruff… Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant and John Stevens. Nasreddine was also considered a serious contender, as the Devils showed improvement in the second half of the 2019-20 season after replacing John Hynes.
What put Ruff on top? He checked all of Fitzgerald’s boxes.
“The process we followed for the search for coaching was long,” said Fitzgerald. ” It was long. I personally had conversations with a bunch of candidates – great candidates – from anywhere between three and five hours on Zoom at the same time, then I did deep dives with a systemic game, how we want play, how these people wanted to play the game, how I think the game should be played.
“As the process continued to move forward, Lindy only came to the fore. First, I was looking for an NHL head coaching experience. Second, a presence … someone who has been there, has been able to enter a room and get the attention of the team with the experience they have gained over several years from a head coach. Personality… the group needs a teacher, a person who will come to teach, and the message will be extremely clear; No gray at all in the messaging.
“As we continue to deepen this process, Lindy Ruff’s contagious personality is a big part of who he is. He is a light person. He played the game. He trained young talents, another criterion. To be able to train young talents and see them become budding stars as he did with the young basic players of Buffalo and the main interpreters of Dallas. … As the process continued, Lindy continued to grow and grow to the point where I felt relationship wise, which is very important for a manager, it was already there. When it came to teamwork, I felt that Lindy Ruff was the best person for this job. “
2. RUFF’S STYLE FOR THE DEVILS
Ruff has had a few powerful teams in his 15 seasons as coach of the Buffalo Sabers, and some of them have focused on defense while others have been high-scoring clubs. During his four seasons as coach of the Dallas Stars, his teams were known for their offense.
His plans for the Devils 2020-2021?
“If we go back to 2006-07 with Buffalo when we were a young team, we made progress and became one of the best teams in the league,” said Ruff. “We played a type of super fast possession game, which is the same type of game I would like to bring to this Devils team with a lot of pressure on the puck using the skills we need to have. And I want a team that can dominate with speed and possession, but at the same time, know that defense is a passion that we are going to have. “
3. COACHING STAFF
The first on the Fitzgerald / Ruff agenda is to choose a coaching staff, and they want to interview Nasreddine and all of the 2019-2020 Devils assistants – Mike Grier, Rick Kowalsky and Peter Horachek.
“Our current staff will have the opportunity to speak with and get to know Lindy, and vice versa get to know them,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a process that I think is fair to them and to Lindy.
“Regarding Alain, Alain is under contract with us and he is still part of our staff (for the moment). He’s a coach who has proven to be one of the best penalty coaches in the league, things we still need. To start, I would like Lindy and Nas to sit down, communicate, get to know each other. “
4. WHY FITZGERALD?
Blitzer represented the Devils property in the Zoom appeal, and he addressed this issue.
“I have been fortunate to work with Tom for over four years as an assistant general manager, and then for the past six months watching Tom as the general manager. It was a fantastic experience for me and it was obvious that Tom was the right person for this job.
“His work with the hockey operations staff, his work with the owner, the work he did to meet the trade deadline, the work he did with our team during this period, the ideas that he has to move forward, his plans for the team on the other side at all levels of the organization simply made it clear to us that he deserved. “
5. HOW EMBROIDER HAS IMPACTED THE DECISIONS
Hall of Fame keeper and great Devils Martin Brodeur are on the payroll these days as a counselor, and he has been used by property to help settle on Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald relied on him to help the coaching decision.
“Marty is fantastic and has been of great value to Josh and myself,” said Blitzer. “I would like to think that Marty will remain in this role. We have to sit down and spend a lot of time on it, but I think he appreciated it and it was a huge added value and we really appreciated it and appreciated it too. “
Fitzgerald added, “The more Lindy was growing, and I thought it was very important to put Lindy Ruff ahead of Marty Brodeur to get Marty’s position on Lindy.”
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