Devils Coaching Staff Continues to Take Shape

Catherine Bogart reported yesterday on the “Inside the Devils Blog” that Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald “spoke to the media ahead of the NHL Draft” and addressed the future of Lindy Ruff’s staff.

To begin, former Devils Interim Head Coach, Alain Nasreddine will be returning as an assistant coach next season.

Fitzgerald told Bogart: “He’s very excited about [returning] as are we. When you can keep a young talent like Alain, who did a good job with our group, tough situation, but he handled it well, learned a lot. [He] grew as a coach, young head coach. I think he’s very excited about the opportunity to work with Lindy Ruff. We’re excited about Alain coming back. He takes a lot of pride in growing our young [defense], he takes a lot of pride in working with the penalty kill, and we’re excited to have him.”

The coaching staff, according to Bogart, currently stands at Ruff, Nasreddine and Mark Recchi. She mentioned that the team is looking for a goaltending coach, leading us to believe that Rollie Melanson will not be returning. Likewise, they are looking for a third “eye in the sky” coach. This, added to Recchi’s hiring, would seem to indicate that the Devils have cut ties with Rick Kowalsky as well.

Bogart quoted Fitzgerald as saying: “We’re going through a goaltending coach search. We have to add a third coach, a ‘eye in the sky’ kind of guy. I think Lindy’s narrowed it down. I think he’s going to be comfortable with a person, I just like to sit down and talk with him and then go from there. There’s no rush especially with the draft and free agency coming up. But I don’t think the decision will take much longer.”

The “eye in the sky” coach would be replacing former assistant coach Mike Grier. Fitzgerald confirmed that Grier is not returning for next season.

Fitzgerald said to Bogart: “He was offered to come back, we would have loved to have him come back. He plans on staying home…he’s got young kids, he wants to be around and be a dad. If something comes up that gives him the opportunity to grow more with more responsibilities than we could have offered him then he’ll consider that. But he was offered a spot to come back.”

So, as it stands, the Devils’ coaching staff will consist of a familiar face along with a lot of overhaul. Once the team hires its goaltending coach and third assistant, we will have word for you here.

Recchi Hired as Assistant Coach

Lindy Ruff’s Devils coaching staff is beginning to take shape as today the team announced that Mark Recchi will serve as an assistant coach on Ruff’s staff.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Tom Fitzgerald via a press release on the Devils’ official app.

In the press release, Fitzgerald was quoted as saying: “We are extremely excited to add Mark to our coaching staff, where his experience as a player, coach, and in development will be invaluable. His work with the power play and managing personnel in Pittsburgh are skills that will benefit our group moving forward. Mark’s leadership, communication abilities, patience, and presence will be integral for the growth of our young core.”

Recchi served the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Penguins. Pittsburgh let most of their coaching staff go following their 2020 Qualifying Round loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

In Pittsburgh, “he was responsible for the power play.” In his three seasons there, the Pens had a 131-78-24 record and made the playoffs all seasons (they made the Qualifying Round in this year’s amended playoff format, as previously mentioned). The press release mentions that the Pens were “top-five in the League on the power play in two of his three seasons, including leading the League in 2017-18 with a 26.2% success rate. Their three-year mark of 23.8% ranked third over that span.”

Recchi, 52-years-old, had a pedigree with the Penguins. He won a Stanley Cup there as a player in 1991 and won two more in 2016 and 2017 as a Development Coach with the club. He was a Development Coach from 2014-15 until being promoted to the bench in 2017-18. During his time as a Developmental Coach, he worked with Pittsburgh’s prospects in the professional minor leagues as well as juniors and college. He got his first post-playing career job in the NHL with the Dallas Stars as a Senior Advisor in 2013-14.

In addition to the Cup won in Pittsburgh as a player, Recchi also won Cups with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and the Boston Bruins in 2011.

As a player, he played 22-years in the NHL, participating in 1,652 games which is sixth all-time on the games played list. He also ranks 21st in goals scored (577), fifth in assists with 956, and 12th in total points (1,533). He also made seven All-Star Game appearances, including being named the game’s MVP in 1997.

He played in 189 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 61 goals and 86 assists for 147 points. He played for the Penguins, Flyers, Canadiens, Bruins, Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers and Hurricanes over his 22-year career and was ultimately elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

Recchi also had quite an impressive international career, as the Kamloops, British Columbia native represented Canada in the 1988 World Junior Championship and the 1997 World Championship, both of which he won gold at. He also played for Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

He will be responsible for the Devils’ power play next season, replacing Rick Kowalsky in that role.