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The New Jersey Devils are a bit of a mess

June 14, 2020, 12:41 PM ET [59 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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The New Jersey Devils are a bit of a mess right now.

They don’t have a head coach. They don’t have a GM. They don’t have a President of Hockey Ops. And we don’t really know who is calling shots in the hiring process for any of the positions.

Generally speaking, the GM and/or POHO hires the team’s coach with a little input from ownership. I think that makes sense considering those are the people running the team and assembling the roster. You want to pick a coach whose personality, and style, meshes with the team you want to build.

That’s not happening in New Jersey. At least not right now.

They’ve conducted an abundance of interviews, with TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting Peter Laviolette appears to be the favorite.

There’s only one question: the favorite for who?

Tom Fitzgerald has been a part of the coaching search. He isn’t the full-time GM, though. Is he making a massive decision for a franchise he may soon no longer be holding a position of power in? I hope not.

At the same time, if he’s going to be sticking around I really hope he *is involved* and part of the reason Laviolette’s the lead-dog. I think hiring a coach over your GM’s head is garbage and unlikely to work out the way anyone would hope.

If Laviolette has a different vision than Fitzgerald – I don’t know that he does; just making a point – it’s simply not going to work. Then you’re going to have to make changes sooner than later and restart the process all over again.

And if Fitzgerald isn’t at least a small part of the Laviolette process – or is and still ends up being replaced – the Devils are even more dysfunctional than the New York Post is suggesting. Excerpt below:

We’re hearing tales of confusion within the Devils hierarchy as ownership and its proxies continue to conduct interviews for the GM position that continues to be filled on an interim/acting basis by Tom Fitzgerald.

Different candidates have apparently been interviewed by different individuals within the executive branch, but dividing and conquering seems to be part of the Josh Harris-David Blitzer ownership philosophy.

Beyond that, third parties dealing with the New Jersey hockey department don’t know who is responsible for making decisions.

Hiring a head coach before there is a full-time GM or POHO in place would almost certainly be a disaster.

I understand ownership being involved or wanting to move the process along. They spent a ton of money to buy the team. It’s theirs. If they want to be in on the action, nobody is stopping them.

That can lead to murky decisions, though, which is why ownership needs to be making big hockey decisions – like hiring a coach – in full cohesion *with* a GM rather than over the head; or potentially prior to even having one in place.

The Devils have a ton of important decisions to make this off-season, both in the front office and on the ice. The way they’re going about making them, and the uncertainty surrounding everything, doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

Let’s hope they figure it out.

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