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Ruff hired as NJ Devils coach, Fitzgerald stays on as GM

The New Jersey Devils hired veteran coach Lindy Ruff on Thursday to take over one of the NHL's youngest teams and removed the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald's title as general manager.

The former New York Rangers assistant 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.

“It was evident that Tom was the right person for this job,” co-owner David Blitzer said, citing Fitzgerald's work at the February trade deadline and beyond. “We're very excited to remove that interim tag.”

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.

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

The head coaching job is 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 defenseman, 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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AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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