I think many of you reading this, alongside myself and many other New Jersey Devils fans already felt this way, but it’s still worth addressing. Alain Nasreddine cannot be the coach of the New Jersey Devils beyond this season. As an interim, he is what he is at this point, and I honestly don’t think he’s shown that he has the tools to be an NHL head coach, at least not at this point. However, when MSG broadcasts even discuss the idea that this is an “audition” for him to be a full time coach, something needs to be said about the future, at least pertaining to Jersey’s Team.
The New Jersey Devils are a gong show this season sure, but while the team has fared slightly better post-Hynes/Hall, the results aren’t good enough. Particularly discouraging was Tuesday’s debacle against the Montreal Canadiens. While Montreal is certainly a better team this season than we are, they were missing a few key contributors including Carey Price. More alarming was how after everything was going right for roughly half of the game (Jesper Bratt’s goal anyone?), the Devils allowed Montreal to not only come back, but take a regulation lead before a late Kyle Palmieri goal sent the game to overtime.
I will say I appreciated Nasreddine being willing to use a timeout to steady the ship (his predecessor rarely, if ever, did) but losing a three goal is unacceptable no matter the situation. While the team showed resilience to recover and tie the score again, they showed that they could keep up with an under-manned Montreal. Even icing an AHL-caliber defense outside of Damon Severson didn’t deter them, which makes the comeback that much more shocking.
Outside of that, however, is that Nas seems to be much the same in terms of complacency. The season is lost, so why not experiment and try to find different combos that haven’t been used this season? Why not put Joey Anderson is a scoring role for his debut, rather than having him skate with the fourth liners? Why not finally get Wayne Simmonds away from Jack Hughes? Why not give Blake Coleman and Nikita Gusev (much as this kills me to write as a Travis Zajac fan) a faster playmaking center such as Hughes? All different ideas that could be tried to give the team an idea of what would work next season once a full time general manager and coach are hired. Even if NONE of them worked, isn’t it better to experiment now to get a jump start on 2020-21?
I understand that without a GM and coach things are going to be difficult, but Tom Fitzgerald has been with the organization for a while, including his early season stint as part of the bench. Why is he not encouraging more evaluation right now? Perhaps management is waiting to ship people out at the trade deadline; maybe they fear that finding something that works will lead to the team being “too good” and decreasing the odds of a high draft pick.
I can’t say that I know how the higher ups still in charge think, but trotting out the same lineup night in and night out (the exception being injury plug ins) doesn’t seem to be moving the needle in the right direction. It also wouldn’t exactly be anything that would encourage a free agent to choose New Jersey over other possible destinations. Again, I don’t know the thought process, but I do know this.
Alain Nasreddine should not be head coach by the time the 2020-21 season rolls around.
What are your thoughts on Nas as interim head coach? Do you think that he is actively trying to improve the team in any way? Is the fact that the Devils are playing better under him simply due to it being a tighter knit group? Do you believe he has a future as an NHL head coach either here or elsewhere? Leave any and all thoughts down in the comments and thanks as always for reading!