I’ll start off by giving Weekesie some credit in his new role, he broke some news on this hot summer day and it’s not the first time he’s broken anything Devils-related either. Not that either management hire is all that surprising in the end, well to me anyway. In particular, the move to retain Fitz seemed like a fait accompli since the guy’s been talking for months in the future tense and been thrown out there in every concievable platform to be the team’s main spokesman during this quiet period. Whereas now ex-coach Alain Nasreddine stayed behind the scenes, and is now looking for work though I personally expect him to land on his feet sooner or later back on John Hynes’ staff in Nashville, and perhaps his half season in charge gets him his own gig some day. It won’t be here though.
Process of elimination suggested Fitz would be the long-term GM. Other than interviewing Mike Gillis which seemed almost perfurnctory (or for a higher up position) since Gillis had little interest in going back to being a GM, there were few other known interviews for the GM spot. And if the Devils didn’t hire Fitz, he’d likely have been a GM somewhere else in short order so it’s not really a contreversial hire, despite the fact he was closely tied to deposed GM Ray Shero.
Ruff on the other hand was dissapointing from the aspect of the fact the Devils had so many interviews with big names for the coaching position. One week the rumor was Peter Laviolette, another week the rumor was Gerard Gallant, then there was the curious Richard Gronberg speculation which died down after the highly regarded overseas coach reached an extension with his club team. It just seemed like after waiting months on interim hires to see what the final decisions would be, retaining one guy and hiring another assistant they could have hired weeks ago was a bit of a letdown.
After getting over the letdown I’m actually less anti-Ruff than most though. I mean, a .560 career winning percentage looks good to me right about now. Sure he hasn’t had a ton of playoff success lately (only one series win since 2007), but the Devils have to start making the playoffs again before I care about that. As good of a man as Nasreddine is, and as hard of a worker as Hynes was, Ruff should represent an upgrade behind the bench from anyone we’ve had since the Devils parted ways with Pete DeBoer. Maybe Brian – the long-time Sabres fan and occasional blogger – will have more critical things to say about the man formerly known as Lucky Lindy though. Or Derek for that matter, since Ruff wasn’t exactly a beloved assistant there.
(Speaking of which, what happens now with the Rangers in the play-in tournament…do they need to replace Ruff on staff or does he just work there for the duration? I guess he’d just stay since it’s not like there’s anything to do here atm)
Plus let’s be honest about something else here, Ruff hasn’t coached in three years and this is probably his last kick at the can at being a head guy while Laviolette, Gallant and even Gronborg probably weren’t jumping through hoops to take our job when other, better vacancies could be available to them later in the summer. I wasn’t exactly expecting a big name to even want this job although all of the above getting interviewed was like one big tease. In the end as a Met fan this is a little reminiscent of when Terry Collins came aboard, a guy who’s meant to bring professionalism to a young team during a dark period for the franchise. Right now, I’ll take that kind of tenure as a Devils fan.