New Jersey Devils to Hire Lindy Ruff as Head Coach: Report

Lou DiPietro
July 08, 2020 - 8:52 pm
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A pre-playoffs loss for the New York Rangers is apparently going to be the New Jersey Devils’ gain.

According to NHL insider Kevin Weekes, veteran coach Lindy Ruff, who has spent the last three years as an assistant on the Rangers’ staffs of Alain Vigneault and David Quinn, is set to become the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils.

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The possibility was actually mentioned by Weekes during a Wednesday appearance on WFAN’s Moose & Maggie Show, and in addition to that coming to fruition, Weekes reports that the Devils are also set to remove the interim tag from GM Tom Fitzgerald, making him the team’s official general manager.

Ruff will become the 18th head coach in Devils history, taking over for interim head coach Alain Nasreddine, who was installed after John Hynes was fired this past December.

Ruff, who played all 13 of his NHL seasons (1979-91) with the Sabres and Rangers, has also coached both, and his 571 wins over 15 seasons (1997-2013) are the most in franchise history. He also led the 1998-99 Sabres to their first Stanley Cup Finals in two decades (and most recent to date), but was relieved of his duties 16 games into the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

He then moved to Dallas, going 165-122 with 41 OT losses and reaching the playoffs twice in four years (2013-17) with the Stars, before moving to the Rangers’ bench as an assistant.

Overall as a head coach, Ruff is 736-554-78 with 125 overtime losses in 19 seasons on the bench.

The Devils are not necessarily built to win right away, but if Ruff can get the likes of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier turned in the right direction, he'll have a shot to enter the top-five in NHL history in wins. Ruff’s 736 wins are sixth-most in NHL history, 46 behind the late Al Arbour and 113 behind retired coach Ken Hitchcock; Ruff could catch both with a fruitful tenure in Newark, but Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice is just seven wins behind Ruff and is also six years younger, so it could be a constant back-and-forth on the all-time list going forward. 

Joe DiBiase of WGR 550 Sports Radio in Buffalo contributed to this report.

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