New Jersey Devils: Change The Coaching Staff and The Strategy On Ice

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Clean The Bench

With the coaching staff currently in place for the New Jersey Devils, it’s not a bright idea for the management team by keeping coaches Lindy Ruff, Mark Recchi, and Alain Nasreddine around on the Devils bench. The roster has loads of talent and potential already in there. To quote Tsun Tzu “If it’s not the fault of the soldier it is the fault of the general.” There are also cases where it is indeed as “the fault of the soldiers.” Jack Hughes will be a cornerstone of the franchise for the foreseeable future after he recently signed an eight-year contract extension.

To elaborate on the first part Ruff is an improved version of what John Hynes was as a coach in New Jersey, but the fans are sick and tired of hearing “we are still a young team” and that doesn’t sit well in New Jersey Devils fans stomachs. They want to see a Bruce Boudreau effect like how the Vancouver Canucks did. General manager Tom Fitzgerald needs to make executive decisions to clean house the staff and improve the playstyle where the offense can be hot and consistently working. Defensively there needs to be more of a physical, supportive, defensive approach that reduces the leaky plays on potential breakout plays.

Luckily the season is still very young and management changes can help improve the teams’ odds of finishing higher than last season. However, if ownership is willing to spend the big money on guys like Dougie Hamilton in the offseason and Tomas Tatar then ownership needs to commit big money to a very seriously fresh up to date coaching system. The team is near dead last in power plays and it is just very mediocre. Could a trade for Boston Bruin Jake DeBrusk be what the team needs to improve the power play?

Following The Art of War

To talk about the power play from a quote from The Art of War “All warfare is based on deception” to translate that it means you need to outsmart your opponents thinking very swift, smooth, and efficiently by becoming more effective in converting on the man advantage. Another good one reads “Hence, when able to attack, we muse seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must are him believe we are near.”

This quote is basically like saying if you are close to the goalie crease or the slot don’t give away your position signaling to the opponent. If you are further back from the blue line on offense get ready to step into the mid-danger areas to increase your odds of converting from those higher offensive opportunities putting the puck on net.

Another good quote is “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.” Basically, you want to set up traffic and screens and make it look like your shooter is going top shelf meanwhile it’s a wrist shot redirected in the net for a tying or go-ahead goal. The Devils really need to make changes to the way they create offense and get a staff that communicates with players, and also holds them accountable. A big criticism to have is finding the right system that can get players like Kevin Bahl, Dougie Hamilton type players clicking and start producing offense from the defensive end.

Bold Take

If I were in Fitzgerald’s shoes right now I would be pink slipping my coaching staff and having bold reforms showing the roster “hey we got your back, however, it is time for you guys to do your job and deliver. Let’s get back to simple hockey and play to our highest potential, and play with some fun and swagger.” The real approach should be “fast, bold, smart, simple, defensive, supportive, and very collaborative.” If a team can take in those pillars playing-wise getting input from better coaches and collaborating together on the ice and not quitting on the team can increase their odds of winning, and create a more winning environment.

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Former writer for Pucks and Pitchforks and The Puck Authority. I cover New Jersey Devils hockey and NHL Draft prospects. I have a podcast called Heads Up Hockey on Also I write for Full Press Hockey.