Yesterday, the New Jersey Devils announced that Assistant General Manager Tom Fitzgerald would be joining John Hynes’ coaching staff as an assistant. According to Amanda Stein on Twitter, the decision and idea to have Fitzgerald join was made by Hynes himself. With a number of fans calling for the coaching staff to be dismissed after the team’s 0-4-2 start, something had to give. This move would be termed “questionable” at best; to me, it feels like a rash reaction, and the wrong rash reaction at that.
I appreciate the players saying all of the right things; Hall spoke about his positivity, Zajac spoke about his desire to help right the ship and Schneider added more about his experience and background. Hynes even spoke about how he can aid the team going forward. I have no doubt that Fitzgerald will be a professional (as he has been in his time in the organization) and that he’s going to do his best to help the players that he’s working with. But is this move the right move?
It’s hard to say with any certainty in the infancy of this move, but I’m still going to state my own opinion on the matter. With the amount of talent on the team, as we’ve said before, this start is unforgivable; the onus appears to be on the players, however, from everything that has been seen in the media. I don’t think this should be the case; past teams have shown us the impact that poor coaching can have (2010-11 Devils anyone?) and this Devils team is infinitely more talented than the squad iced last year.
The infusion of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, Jack Hughes and Jesper Boqvist (along with other minor additions) hasn’t exactly paid dividends yet. The argument can be made though, that these players are not being put in a position (or a system) where they can find success. We also haven’t seen any terrible regression from older players (Travis Zajac has been one of the brighter spots in all honesty) that was feared and could have lead to lesser amounts of success. We have, however, continued to see issues that have been observed in years past.
I can’t say it enough: blown assignments based on positioning, players bumping into each other, trouble exiting the puck from our own end. With these recurring topics arising season after season under the Hynes regime, shouldn’t we at least be looking into replacing an assistant coach or two? Why are we simply adding another assistant to the staff? While the Devils certainly don’t have the absolute best NHL roster on paper, they don’t have the worst either. They’ve had two games of blown multi-goal leads, two games they’ve been shutout in, one complete no-show, and a tough decision with some helps from the stripes. I don’t think a new assistant will be able to (or possibly even allowed to) fix the issues that exist.
The Devils need to fix the mess they’re in NOW; six games in is too long to be win-less for a team that has attempted to improve this much. The Devils only have two more games before a brief period off; after Saturday’s game, the Devils don’t play again until the following Friday. If the team is 0- for still after playing Vancouver, I think with that much time between games, at least some assistant, if not the whole staff needs to be dismissed. I know Ray Shero isn’t prone to knee-jerk reactions, but at this point, the results to this point speak for themselves.
Tom Fitzgerald joining the coaches was a change already...just not the one anyone seems to want. Or possibly even the one the team needs.
What are your thoughts on the Fitzgerald addition? Do you think this was a good move for the Devils? Are you undecided on the move, or fully negative about it? What has to be down to get the team out of their tailspin? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!