After another disappointing season, The New Jersey Devils failed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Back in December, Devils ownership fired former coach Peter DeBoar after starting the 2014-2015 campaign with a record of 12-17-6. The team filled its coaching vacancy with the three-headed tandem of Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello, former Washington Capitals head man, Adam Oates, and famed former-Devil, Scott Stevens. The coaching efforts of the three proved to be modest improvement since the firing of DeBoar, putting the team in a potential position to earn a playoff spot. However, the early season hole the team dug themselves into proved to be too mighty of a challenge to overcome. The Devils ended the season with one win in their last 11 games.
Three years is a long time for the Devils to be absent from postseason play and once-formidable aura of the franchise has quickly faded into mediocrity. The proper first step for the Devils to take for the future is to make Scott Stevens the (only) head coach of the team. Stevens, whose jersey hangs from the Prudential Center’s rafters, is still viewed as perhaps the most famous Devil skater of all time. To the fans, Stevens represents what the Devils use to be, a perennial contender that dominated teams with its defense and goaltending.
This past season, Stevens’ defensive coaching helped many under experienced members of the Devils defensive lines, most notably, Adam Larrson improve by leaps and bounds. Although there is still plenty of work that needs to be done, especially in the front office, a Devils team lead by Stevens would not only rejuvenate a tired fan base, but it will also attract many free agents, who grew up watching the Stanley Cups runs of past, and make New Jersey a hot spot to play once again.
Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello, has a plethora of problems to deal with this offseason, however the hiring of his next head coach should be a no brainer.