Earlier this month, it had been reported that New Jersey’s coaching search had been narrowed to four candidates with former Nashville bench boss Peter Laviolette believed to be the frontrunner. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (via Twitter) has added a fifth coach to the mix, reporting that Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff is also under consideration for the job.
Ruff has plenty of experience behind the bench, serving as Buffalo’s head coach from 1997 through 2013 while filling the same role in Dallas from 2013-17. He has been an assistant coach with New York since then and also spent time as an assistant in Florida from 1993-97 before getting the Buffalo job. His 736 career head coaching wins in the NHL sit sixth in league history.
Other coaches still in consideration for the position are Gerard Gallant, John Stevens, and current interim head coach Alain Nasreddine.
With New Jersey not among the 24 teams that will be returning to action this summer, there is plenty of time to make this decision as the official ‘offseason’ won’t likely begin until mid-October. However, the decision maker isn’t also necessarily in place either. Tom Fitzgerald is the interim GM and has been conducting the coaching search but ownership has also been in talks with prospective GM candidates. Accordingly, a decision on Fitzgerald’s fate may need to happen before a head coaching hire can be finalized.