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Devils tab Ruff as head coach, keep Fitzgerald as GM

The New Jersey Devils hired Lindy Ruff as their head coach, the team announced Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Canada's head coach Lindy Ruff looks on during their 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship quarter-final match against Sweden at the Globe Arena in Stockholm May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

New Jersey also will keep Tom Fitzgerald in the role of general manager. He was promoted when Ray Shero was fired Jan. 12.

“To add two key pieces like Tom Fitzgerald and Lindy Ruff to direct and steer this organization forward into the future gives us a tremendous amount of confidence,” Devils president Jake Reynolds said.

Ruff, 60, takes the helm of a team that saw John Hynes serve as its coach from the start of the 2015-16 season until he was fired on Dec. 3. Interim coach Alain Nasreddine took over for Hynes and guided the Devils to a 19-16-8 record in 43 games before the league paused its season on March 12.

“I’m super excited to become a part of the Devils family,” Ruff said. “There’s a great history there, the Stanley Cups speak for themselves. I know there’s a great foundation that has been built along with management and Tom , the ownership, looking to build the rest of the pieces and take this team in the right direction, get in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and go from there. So I can’t say enough about how humbled I am for this opportunity going through this process. I really feel like this is a great fit and I can’t wait to get going.”

New Jersey, which had a 28-29-12 record in 2019-20, is one of seven teams that will not return to play this summer.

Fitzgerald, 51, said Thursday that he was thrilled to continue his journey with the team.

“I’m excited in all aspects,” Fitzgerald said. “I want to thank [Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer] for their trust, for the opportunity and the wherewithal to allow me to do how I saw fit with the organization as the lead guy running the department.”

Ruff previously served as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres for 15 seasons (1997-2013) and the Dallas Stars for four seasons (2013-17). He ranks sixth all-time in career wins (736) and seventh in games coached (1,493).

He also has compiled a 66-54 record in the postseason, including Buffalo’s six-game loss to Dallas in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.

Ruff won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 2005-06 when the Sabres were 53-22-7. The following year, he was the runner-up to Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks.

Ruff had been working with the New York Rangers as an assistant coach since July 2017.

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