The New Jersey Devils have hired veteran coach Lindy Ruff to lead one of the youngest rosters in the NHL.

At the same time, it was confirmed the Devils would be removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald, the club’s executive vice-president and general manager.

The team released statements confirming that 60-year-old Ruff, along with his 19 seasons of NHL head coaching experience, will be replacing interim coach Alain Nasreddine next season, and that Fitzgerald will continue to run the front office.

Nasreddine took over coaching duties after the club fired John Hynes on December 3.

Ruff was the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 1998 to 2013 – including a trip to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals – then coached the Dallas Stars from 2013 to 2017. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.

"His personality, experience, knowledge, work-ethic and focus will provide a calm presence in our locker room," Fitzgerald said. "He is the right coach at the right time for our organisation.

"His teaching ability, and communication skills will be well-suited for our team, especially our young, developing players."

The Devils finished the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season at 28-29-12 and are the only team in the Metropolitan Division not included in the NHL's expanded 24-team playoff scheduled to start later this month.

When the season was paused in March, New Jersey had the youngest roster in the NHL, with the average active player under 26 years old.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to lead a group of great young talent and strong leadership to the next level," Ruff said. "I look forward to bringing this core together, developing our players and putting us on a trajectory that can lead to sustained success in a timely manner.

"The players have to know one thing, I'm going to have their back and at the same time they have to have mine. We have to grow together."

The Devils have two recent number one overall draft picks on the roster – 21-year-old centre Nico Hischier and 19-year-old winger Jack Hughes – as well as a variety of other high draft picks. Homegrown goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is 24 years old and was 22-14-8 this season with a 2.77 goals-against average.

The Devils have made the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in the last eight seasons, a first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.

New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said on Thursday the team are interviewing coaching candidates and current coach Alain Nasreddine is among them.

The Athletic reported that the Devils interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant in mid-April. Gallant was fired by Vegas on January 15.

When Nasreddine was hired to replace John Hynes on January 3, the Devils were 9-13-4 and ranked 23rd in the league on the penalty kill. New Jersey went 19-16-8 and improved their penalty kill from 23rd in the league to first after Nasreddine took over.

The Devils are now interviewing coaches, with Nasreddine among the candidates.

"I'm not going to sit here and hide and say that's not going on," Fitzgerald said.

"There's been a process that has been ongoing for quite some time that involved talking to other candidates, and Alain has put himself in that situation too.

"He's deserved the right to talk to me as the interim general manager, talk to our presidents, CEOs and our ownership group, on selling himself on why he should be able to keep his job."

Devils goaltender Cory Schneider backed Nasreddine and hopes the 44-year-old remains with the team.

"I enjoyed playing under him and we had a great relationship," he said on Wednesday.

"It's a tough business so who knows what direction [the Devils are] going to go, but I really hope that 'Nas' will be here. If not as a head coach, still part of the coaching staff, because he's a valuable asset."

The Devils are not among the 24 teams in the NHL return-to-play plan that will compete for the Stanley Cup.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider said some players are growing more concerned about the NHL season resuming as the hiatus drags on.

The 2019-20 NHL campaign was suspended on March 12 and it remains to be seen when, and if, the season will restart amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 189 regular-season games remaining when the league came to a halt because of COVID-19, which has killed more than 319,200 people globally.

Schneider – an All-Star in 2016 – told reporters via a video conference call on Monday: "I think that's everyone's concern right now.

"It's a lot of guys asking is there a drop-dead date? What's the date that it's just too late, that you can get a semblance of a season or a playoff."

The league had already said teams would need about three weeks of training before playing games, which means at this point the season would not resume until mid-June at the earliest.

Mid-June is usually when the Stanley Cup champions are crowned.  

"I understand it from both sides," Schneider said. "We just have to weigh what's the most doable, what makes the most sense, even though it may not be what the players wanted or what the teams want."

Even Schneider does not know for sure what he wants. 

When the season was postponed back in March, the Devils were 28-29-12 and out of the playoff picture.

Schneider questioned whether it is really worthwhile to even come back to play a handful of meaningless games in what will likely be arenas without fans.  

The 12-year veteran, however, also sees some benefit to returning to play. If the coronavirus pandemic continues to linger and pushes back the start of the 2020-21 season, players would fall out of game-shape and get rusty during the lengthy break. 

"Is it worth it for us to spend five, six weeks to do something that ultimately won't matter?" Schneider said. "Personally, I would like to at least get out and get that feeling again. Nine or 10 months is a long time to not have played a game and not really ramp it up in that sense. My hope is that we get a chance to come back and play."

The New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes on Tuesday after a slow start to the NHL season.

Appointed in 2015, Hynes was fired with the Devils holding a 9-13-4 record.

Alain Nasreddine was appointed interim head coach and Peter Horachek an assistant.

"John played an integral role in the development of this team in establishing a foundation for our future and we are grateful for his commitment, passion and unmatched work ethic," Devils executive vice-president/general manager Ray Shero said in a statement.

"John is a respected leader, developer of talent and friend which makes this decision difficult. We are a team that values and takes pride in accountability to the results we produce.

"We are collectively disappointed in our performance on the ice and believe changes were needed, starting with our head coach.

"I have been consistent in my desire to build something here in New Jersey that earns the respect of teams throughout the league and pride in our fans. That is not where we were heading and for me to tolerate anything less was not acceptable."

Hynes finished with a 150-159-45 record at the helm of the Devils, leading them to the playoffs in 2017-18.

He ranks second in the Devils' history for games coached, wins and points.

Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

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