The Devils have settled on their first major moves of the 2020 offseason, hiring Lindy Ruff as their new head coach and elevating Tom Fitzgerald to full-time general manager, NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes reported Wednesday.
The club has not commented on the report.
Ruff, 60, has 19 years of NHL head coaching experience with the Sabres and Stars, compiling a 571-432-78-84 regular-season record. He has 10 playoff appearances and one Stanley Cup Final appearance to his credit (1999 Sabres).
Ruff has been working as an assistant with the rival Rangers since 2017 after being fired by the Stars.
He will be the permanent replacement for John Hynes, who was fired last December after a 9-13-4 start. Interim coach Alain Nasreddine led the club to a 19-16-8 record over its final 43 games this season. The Devils finished last in the Metropolitan Division after the 2019-20 regular season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team reportedly interviewed Nasreddine, Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant, John Stevens, Rikard Gronborg and about a half-dozen other candidates in addition to Ruff for the position.
Fitzgerald, 51, was named New Jersey’s interim GM on Jan. 12 after the club fired Ray Shero. He helped to accelerate the club’s roster shakeup with five trades prior to the February deadline. Most notably, he obtained the Canucks’ first-round draft pick in 2020 or 2021 and Nolan Foote, a 2019 first-round pick, from the Lightning for forward Blake Coleman. He also picked up a 2021 second-round pick and prospect David Quenneville from the Islanders for defenseman Andy Greene.
His other trades sent Wayne Simmonds, Sami Vatanen and Louis Domingue out of New Jersey.
Fitzgerald will be working with the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft per the results of Phase 1 of the draft lottery.
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