Ever since the New Jersey Devils fired John Hynes back on December 3rd, 2019, they have been in the need of finding a new permanent full-time head coach. When Alain Nasreddine took over coaching duties, he was given the interim tag. As of right now, he is still the head coach of the Devils and is operating as such until someone else tells him otherwise. However, that has not stopped the New Jersey Devils from trying to fill their coaching needs.
The Devils have a unique situation going on. Not only do they have an interim head coach, but an interim general manager in Tom Fitzgerald as well. With Fitzgerald holding the interviewing process, it shows ownership is confident enough in Fitzgerald to build this team into a contender again. Therefore, he is in the running to be the permanent general. Let’s take a look at the potential coaches that could fill the New Jersey Devils coaching position.
New Jersey Devils Coaching Candidates
Last week, in one of the Last Word on Hockey’s NHL Rumours articles, we reported the Devils interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant. Gallant is one of the leading candidates for the position. Through two and a half seasons with the Golden Knights, Gallant posted a 213-118-75 record before he was fired on January 15th. If the Devils were to land Gallant, they will be getting a coach with a proven track record. Not to mention he took the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup Final.
Gallant did an excellent job moulding the Golden Knights in his image he can do the same thing with the Devils. Having a Jack Adams award-winning coach in the organization will do wonders to shape the minds of this very young team. Just look at what he did with the Florida Panthers. In his first season with the Panthers, the team improved by 25 points jumping from 66 points during the 2013-14 season to 91 points in the 2015-16 season. The following season he guided the Panthers to a franchise-record 101 points and a playoff appearance, one of two in the last 19 seasons for that franchise.
With the Devils missing the playoffs seven out of the last eight seasons, they need someone who can get them over the edge. Gallant is perfect for them and needs to be the leading candidate. With such a young team that needs guidance, Gallant can get the Devils back to being a winner.
Another pick that might be a little more controversial is Bruce Boudreau. A lot of people say Boudreau does not win the big one. That is not a problem for the Devils. They have seen the playoffs once in eight years. They need a coach that can get them there. If the Devils can’t land Gallant then Boudreau is the next best option. As the head coach of the Washington Capitals (2007-2012), Anaheim Ducks (2011-16), and most recently with the Minnesota Wild (2016-20) he has a record of 567-302-115.
In 14 seasons, he coached teams to eight division titles including a trip to the Conference Finals in 2015 with the Ducks. Most of his teams lose in the second round, but if you look at those losses, his teams would often lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champion. He has been around the league for a long-time and knows what it takes to get far in the playoffs. Something the Devils have not seen since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. He is the next best option behind Gallant.
Another option for the Devils could be Dan Bylsma, who is currently an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings. As a head coach in the league, Bylsma has a record of 320-190-55 (43-35 in the postseason) including guiding Sidney Crosby to his first of three Stanley Cup when he coached the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bylsma has ties to Ray Shero, the Devils former general manager. The Devils may not want to go back down that rabbit hole. However, with the Red Wings in rebuild mode too, and certainly that staff being overhauled, there is a chance Bylsma could be in the running for that position as well.
That be saying said the Devils would not be doing their due diligence if they did not interview their current head coach. Nasreddine has done a good job helping the Devils this season. Since Nasredinne took over the Devils have a 19-16-8 record including going 10-5-2 prior to the season being stopped. Nasreddine brings a different style to the table that was much needed. They are playing a fast attacking style. Considering what Nasreddine has done this season, he needs to be in the running. However, it will be no easy task to become a first-time NHL head coach for a rebuilding franchise.
This one might be a little out of the box and off the beaten path. However, there comes a time when a team needs to do something different instead of following the same old trends. That is why Rikard Gronborg is on this list. Gronborg has garnished a good reputation from those around the NHL as many believe Gronborg will be up for several coaching vacancies. Just look at the work he is doing with Swedish men’s national team and the ZSC Lions.
Gronborg is one of those coaches that designs a system based on the players he has on the team. He will assign them roles and tasks. He believes the next generation of players requires more feedback than ever. Not to mention, his teams play a fast, attacking style of hockey, something a young Devils team can benefit from. While this is off the board, the Devils need something new. They have played the same system for so long, that new and fresh ideas may be something young players are looking for.
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