Last Wednesday, it was announced that the New Jersey Devils had signed long-time NHL coach Lindy Ruff as the team’s new head coach. Everyone was thrilled by the news, especially since the Devils did not manage to clinch a spot in the 24-team playoff tournament and need a serious turnaround to become a contender in the next season.
Ruff had most recently been part of the New York Rangers’ coaching staff but has a long history as a head coach in the NHL. The 60-year-old spent 10 seasons in the NHL playing for the Buffalo Sabres and later went on to coach the team for 15 seasons. While behind the Sabres bench, Ruff had a 571-432-78-84 record.
After he was relieved of his duties by the Sabres in 2013, Ruff spent four years as the head coach of the Dallas Stars. Since then he has served as an assistant coach with the Rangers, biding his time and waiting for a full-time NHL head coaching job. When the Rangers fired former head coach Alain Vigneault, Ruff was considered a frontrunner to take over the head coaching job but ultimately he lost out to current Rangers head coach David Quinn. Ruff was kept on staff even after Quinn’s hiring along with Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire.
And now he is back to being a bench boss. However, it was revealed on Tuesday that he was not the Devils’ first choice to take the position over. Insider Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet revealed that New Jersey and Peter Laviolette couldn’t work out a contract, settling for Ruff instead.
Many fans are answering the report by saying that Ruff is way better than Laviolette and will do a better job with a young team with key elements like Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
It is believed Laviolette might have been asking for too much, he who was fired by the Nashville in Predators in January in his sixth season with the team. The Predators had a 19-15-7 record when the move was made to replace him with former Devils head coach John Hynes. Laviolette, who won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Hurricanes back in 2006, has served as Team USA’s head coach for the worlds on three occasions, winning bronze in 2004.
We still don’t know if he will find another job for the 2020-21 campaign, but he missed the opportunity in New Jersey.