The New Jersey Devils began the 2023-24 NHL season with heightened expectations, and for good reason. Fresh off an impressive regular season boasting 52 victories, the Devils further solidified their reputation with a postseason series victory over their arch-rival New York Rangers in Round 1, after having initially trailing two games to none.

New Jersey's season took an unexpected turn as they grappled with inconsistent performances, particularly evident in their defensive and goaltending. Furthermore, injuries to key players such as Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Dougie Hamilton further compounded their challenges, which continued to pile up until they were well outside of the Wild Card postseason race.

Ultimately these difficulties culminated in the dismissal of head coach Lindy Ruff by general manager Tom Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald explained why he made his decision and how inconsistency played a role in the Devils' demise, via Mike Morreale of

“I felt it was the right time to make this change,” Fitzgerald explained. “I just felt the identity we played with, to sustain playoff position, wasn't there, it wasn't sustainable.”

“I started to see some things that I value as a team that wasn't changing,” Fitzgerald continued. “But then you saw a change, you saw a good game, the details … and then you wouldn't see it the next game. The inconsistency started to creep up.

Former Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green, who was serving as an associate coach, was appointed as Ruff's interim replacement.

The Devils failed to earn a playoff berth, and are now officially in offseason mode. And while moves will be made to shore up the goaltending during the summer, a major decision that Fitzgerald has ahead of him is who will take over as the new bench boss permanently.

Devils coaching candidate No. 1: Travis Green

New Jersey Devils interim head coach Travis Green looks on during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at Prudential Center.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The first and most obvious candidate to take over New Jersey's head coaching duties is the man they tabbed on an interim basis, Travis Green. Already with head coaching experience dating from his days with the Canucks, he racked up a record of 133-147-34 from 2017 to 2021. Vancouver reached the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff Bubble before bowing out to the Vegas Golden Knights.

He was then terminated following a lackluster start to the 2021-22 season and replaced behind the bench by Bruce Boudreau.

Fitzgerald disclosed his intentions during New Jersey's head coach search and confirmed that Green will be someone that he considers for the full-time job, via Tom Canavan of The Associated Press.

“Travis is well aware of my intentions,” Fitzgerald said Thursday. “I owe it to the organization to make sure I was following the coaching world with who I believe would be the perfect coach for this group moving forward for what’s available out there.”

Meanwhile, Green made it clear that he wants to retain the position.

“I want to be the head coach of the New Jersey Devils,” said Green. “It’s an exciting, exciting group and I think the future is bright.”

Devils coaching candidate No. 2: Gerard Gallant

A highly accomplished head coach, Gerard Gallant most recently served as the bench boss of the New York Rangers. However, he was relieved of his duties by general manager Chris Drury following last season's Round 1 playoff loss.

Gallant's tenure with the Rangers was notable, as he guided the team to an Eastern Conference Final appearance against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Prior to his stint with the Rangers, Gallant achieved success with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018. Despite his accomplishments, Gallant was unexpectedly terminated during the 2019-20 season, a decision that left many puzzled by management's choice.

Gallant is now looking for his next opportunity in the NHL, via Morreale.

“I think people know (I'm available),” Gallant said earlier this year. “I'm only 60 years old. They know I want to coach again so if the opportunity comes up, I'd be happy to. We'll see where it goes. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm enjoying my time home with my family now.

“I get a chance to go to Florida a little bit and also see my grandkids, so I take a lot of good in what happened.”

He boasts a career NHL coaching record of 369-262-70 along with four ties.

Devils coaching candidate No. 3: Craig Berube

Considered to be one of the top coaching commodities available this offseason, Berube was terminated by the St. Louis Blues earlier this season after an uneven start to the year that saw them stumble to 6th place in their division. However, he'll forever be known as the first head coach to lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup, a feat they accomplished in 2019.

Berube has previously served as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers and owns a total record of 281-190-72. He also made it clear that he has no intention of calling it a career, via Wayne Fish of Flying Fish Hockey.

“I’m going to wait for an NHL job and see what happens,” he said with regard to his future plans. “It doesn’t matter where. I’m sure I have a shot (for next season). It all boils down to talking to a team, talking to the GM, the ownership. If they believe in your message; if they like what you’re saying. In the interview process, if it’s a good fit for me and a good fit for them, probably something will get done.”