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New Jersey Devils Fire Lindy Ruff: Too Little Too Late?

About one week ago, the New Jersey Devils parted ways with their longtime coach, Lindy Ruff. In the midst of a recent losing streak, and mediocre performances by the team, this move was better late then never. 

The 2023-24 season has not been going well for the Devils, who are failing to meet the expectations that were placed on them at the beginning of the season. After finishing last season with 112 points, the team is now on pace to finish with 85 points, which is the worst drop off in terms of points that the team has seen. 

When a team underperforms, the brunt of the consequences often falls on the coach. In this case, Lindy Ruff was the latest victim to blame for his team's underwhelming season. What exactly went wrong?

Courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ruff began his tenure with the team during the shortened 2020 season. At the time of his hiring, he was known for allowing young stars to see big minutes, giving them the chance to put up some solid numbers. For the Devils team, that meant good news for sophomore year Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. The team around these players was not quite playoff ready, but Ruff allowed these young players to see big minutes, and ultimately allowed them to produce respectable statistical numbers.

The team finally began to see production, with their talented players finally taking a step forward, and the team as a whole becoming more experienced. The Devils saw its most productive season under Ruff last year, when they placed 2nd in the Metropolitan Division and made the playoffs for the first time since 2018. The team made it all the way to the second round, where they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Courtesy of James Guillory/ USA Today Sports

Despite the success of last season, the Devils have failed to live up to those same expectations that they had placed on them.  Inconsistent goaltending and injuries have cost the team crucial games throughout the season. Ruff was held accountable for this, as he many times started goalie Nico Daws on no rest, and most notably played promising forward, Alexander Holtz on the fourth line all season.

Throughout this recent losing stretch, it seems that Ruff may have lost the voice in the locker room. The team is in a rut, and going through the same thing night after night can get exhausting. Questionable lineup choices and not taking accountability ultimately lost Ruff his job, but perhaps it might be too little too late for the Devils.

Courtesy of Andrew Mills/ NJ Advance Media

Where do the Devils go from here? For the rest of the season, Interim Head Coach Travis Green has already turned some heads in first week as interim coach. He completely revamped the Devils top six forward lines, and scratched arguably the teams best defenseman this year, rookie Simon Nemec. Though the team looked good in their first game with Green, the team failed to secure the win against the Panthers, thus losing another game and falling further back in the playoff race. Firing Ruff was likely the best decision for the team, as it looks to maintain a good pace to finish out the season, and look for a permanent coach in the offseason.

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