John Hynes is getting some help.
The Devils head coach has a new addition to his coaching staff: New Jersey assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald. The team made the move official on Wednesday, announcing Fitzgerald as its newest assistant coach.
Fitzgerald, a longtime former player and former assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins, will maintain a dual role for the Devils. The 51-year-old will continue his management duties while also reportedly serving as a conduit for players and the other coaches.
The Devils are currently mired in a six-game winless streak to start the season, despite raised expectations after the offseason additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev and 2019 No. 1 draft pick Jack Hughes. With an 0-4-2 record and just 13 goals scored with 27 allowed, the team sits tied for dead last in the entire NHL with two points (with Ottawa and Minnesota). The 6-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Oct. 14, which saw the Devils squander a three-goal (or more) lead for the second time this season, appears to have been the catalyst for adding Fitzgerald to the coaching staff.
According to Devils’ team reporter Amanda Stein, Hynes was the one who recommended the rare move.
A veteran of 1,097 regular-season NHL games, Fitzgerald has experience juggling multiple roles in his post-playing career. The Billerica, Mass., native was the Penguins’ director of player personnel when he also took on assistant coaching duties in 2008-09.
Whatever the reasoning for Fitzgerald’s new role, Hynes is surely on the hot seat after a woeful start to the season. Adding the team’s current assistant GM to the coaching staff certainly cannot be seen as a vote of confidence, even if it was officially Hynes’ idea.
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