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Devils Need a Coach

The big prize will be Mike Babcock if he decides to leave Detroit.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports


The season is over, the draft order is set, and now we wait for what the New Jersey Devils decide to do about a head coach. It became a strange situation for the Devils since their December firing of Pete DeBoer. General Manager Lou Lamoriello stepped in once again as the head coach but brought in Adam Oates and Scott Stevens as co-head coaches; Oates on offense and Stevens on defense.

Fast forward five months and now Lamoriello must make a decision on who to make his next head coach and whether he will stay in house or try to bring in an outsider. The in house option would be to turn the keys over to Oates, as he had head coach experience with the Washington Capitals. He was in DC for two years before being fired.

However, there are some big names currently on the market and some that might become free agents following the season. The most extreme outside option is John Tortorella, as he currently has no head coaching job but spent many years with both the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning — winning a Stanley Cup there in 2004. Dan Bylsma, a Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh, is on the market as well. So is Ted Nolan, who was recently fired from the Buffalo Sabres. Craig Berube, the former Flyers head coach, will also be looking for a new job come next year.

The big prize will be Mike Babcock if he decides to leave Detroit following the end of his contract. He is the most successful of any of the coaching candidates, having taken the Anaheim Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, winning the 2008 Stanley Cup with Detroit, then returning a year later as well. As a head coach he has made the playoffs every season since the 2002-03 season except for one.

If Babcock becomes available — and if the Devils can get him — then they would certainly be in a good position, but that’s two big ifs. So it’s likely that the Devils are doing their research on all potential candidates.

It’s my opinion that the Devils should stay in house with Oates. He knows the players, has experience at the helm, and would be comfortable coaching alongside Stevens. If the Devils do go outside the organization and cannot get Babcock, I believe Ted Nolan is a good hire who has a lot to prove after being left in charge of a Sabres team that ownership was trying to bottom out and then being fired.

Whatever decision they make, the Devils are sure to find someone very good in this crop of free agents who can lead them into next season.

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