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Devils hire Lindy Ruff as head coach to guide young group

The New Jersey Devils announced Thursday they are hiring veteran coach Lindy Ruff to take over one of the NHL’s youngest teams and removing the interim tag off Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager.

NHL Network was first to report the Devils’ plans to hire the New York Rangers assistant coach on Wednesday night.

Ruff replaces interim coach Alain Nasreddine, who guided the team to a 19-16-8 record after John Hynes was fired on Dec. 3. Fitzgerald had served as interim general manager since Ray Shero was fired on Jan. 12.

The Devils posted a 28-29-12 overall record, missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. Their season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic in early March and they were not among the 24 teams chosen to compete for the Stanley Cup when NHL play resumes.

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During the pause, the Devils interviewed Nasreddine and former head coaches Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens.

The head coaching job will be the third in the NHL for the 60-year-old Ruff. He coached the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars, leading the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999. He was hired by the Rangers before the 2017-18 season. He has a 736-554-78-125 record.

A former defenceman, Ruff played in 691 NHL regular-season games and had 105 goals and 195 assists. He also appeared in 52 playoff games.

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