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Slumping New Jersey Devils sack head coach Lindy Ruff

Ruff was in his fourth season as New Jersey bench boss.

Lindy Ruff, formerly of the New Jersey Devils (Image: NHL)

In a bid to spark new life into their fragile playoff push, the New Jersey Devils sacked head coach Lindy Ruff on Monday [4 March].

“I hold our entire organization to the highest levels of accountability to focus on being a competitive team that expects to be a perennial playoff contender,” said Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald. “Unfortunately, we are not currently at that level, and I needed to make this decision.

“This was an extremely difficult conversation to have with Lindy based on the relationship that he and I have. He was the right coach to develop our young players on the ice, and above all else, he is a tremendous person.”

With the trade deadline looming, the Devils are sixth in the Metropolitan Division and eight points behind the final playoff wildcard berth, which is currently occupied by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ruff’s departure comes after four seasons in New Jersey, culminating in a run to the second round of last season’s playoffs.

Travis Green, who joined the Devils as an associate coach last June, will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Why did the New Jersey Devils fire Lindy Ruff?

After their impressive season and playoff run last term, expectations spiked in New Jersey.

The franchise, its bosses felt last summer, had finally reprised its role as title contenders and would routinely fight for silverware in the seasons ahead.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

The Devils have slipped away from the playoff picture this season, with their performances sending them back towards the bottom of the pile.

Lindy Ruff, formerly of the New Jersey Devils (Image: NHL)

Lindy Ruff, formerly of the New Jersey Devils (Image: NHL)

Goaltending has been a major weakness for New Jersey this season, conceding more than a dozen goals above expected (the third-worst record in the NHL), per Evolving Hockey.

Ruff isn’t responsible for the composition of his crease, those decisions are made by the general manager, but he is at fault for the multitude of issues that have plagued the Devils outside the blue paint.

Timo Meier scored 64 points (40 goals, 24 assists) last season. This term, he is playing at a 41-point pace. Dawson Mercer, John Marino, and Jonas Siegenthaler have also regressed, with Ruff unable to extract creditable performances from his core.

With Lindy Ruff sacked, will the New Jersey Devils make the playoffs?

It would take a minor miracle for the Devils to make the playoffs at this point – they are eight points behind the Lightning, albeit with two games-in-hand, and also have the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals ahead of them in the wildcard race.

Also of note: the Pittsburgh Penguins are only two points behind New Jersey, despite having played two fewer games.

Ruff faced a collection of difficult circumstances this season, with Dougie Hamilton and Jack Hughes missing time through injury and key defenders walking in free agency last summer.

Undue pressure has been placed on rookies Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec to perform; a situation exacerbated by the Devils’ dismal .882 save percentage.

With their season already likely over, Ruff’s sacking is about laying the groundwork for a more successful tilt in 2024-25.

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