The New Jersey Devils are a circus in the NHL, as the team struggles to piece together back-to-back wins throughout the 2021-22 season. A head coaching change is for ‘Jersey as Lindy Ruff holds a 29-45-12 record in two disappointing years as the shepherd for this group.
On top of a porous record, Ruff simply can’t command this team the way he needs to. This is a Devils team that is the youngest in the NHL, with 29 players on the roster averaging to be 24.76 (per Elite Prospects). His teaching style is garnered towards an older, more experienced core that focuses on reassurance and boosting the confidence of veteran players. This is a team that needs discipline, tough love, and to be reminded of how the Devils play hockey.
John Tortorella is the perfect candidate to be the next head coach for the New Jersey Devils
Lindy Ruff is trying to make the Devils play like the Colorado Avalanche or the Washington Capitals in the sense that they’re trying to score 4-5 goals a game. The Devs have never been this type of team. They’ve always been a team that wins 3-2 and 2-1 games due to a gritty, defensive first playstyle that is best represented by the current style of the New York Islanders.
While John Tortorella is one of the most polarizing coaches in NHL history, he’s exactly what ‘Jersey needs. If you watch his interviews on ESPN+ during intermissions, Torts is just in a different timezone mentally. He’s there physically, but you can tell that he wants something bigger. He wants to be behind the bench because that’s what he was born to do.
Given the latest surge of coaching changes around the NHL, the Devils are next on the list after a fan threw a jersey on the ice at The Rock following their 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. Though this was a disgusting and cowardly act by a disloyal fan, it signifies just how brutal the Devils have been. For that reason, it’s time to clean the house and find a new voice to lead this group.
With all of this being said, here are three reasons why John Tortorella should be the next head coach for the Devils.
No. 3 – Discipline
Only certain teams in hockey can be led by an old-school coach who is regarded as a “yeller” and they tend to be younger, unpolished rosters in need of a good buffing. The Devils, as mentioned earlier, are the youngest team in the NHL and have just three players who are 30-years or older on the roster.
Due to having such a young team, they need a coach who can whip them into shape and hold them responsible for their mistakes. Having a Lindy Ruff who simply gives a slap on the wrist and pat on the back support is hindering the development of players like Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and others. The Devs need a coach that isn’t afraid to get in their face and nobody does it more often than John Tortorella.
There are two coaching styles that make or break teams: The Yeller, and The Supporter, and both serve their own unique purpose. There comes a point in an athlete’s career where they need someone to get in their can and give tough love.
When you’re young, having someone give you a pat on the shoulder after you just let up three odd-man rushes on the same shift will hinder your growth as a player (Lindey Ruff). Instead, they need a guy who isn’t there to be a friend, but a guy who is there to get the absolute most out of you by any means (John Tortorella).
The Supporter is best suited for teams that have an older core group of players, like the Vancouver Canucks or the Boston Bruins. Teams like these have players who have been there and done that and don’t need a guy screaming in their face over something they know already. The Veterans need a guy who understands who they are and can pump their tires and give them confidence. These two styles are polar opposites, but they have their own special purposes. Due to such a young core, the Devils need tough love in order to develop.
There is an incredible amount of potential for this franchise given the prospects that sit in the pipeline in addition to current stars on the team now. With discipline and a reminder of how hockey is played here through tough love, Torts can make this team, not only respected but feared once again.