Tom Fitzgerald and Lindy Ruff have gotten to know each other quite well over the course of the interview process that lead to Ruff being hired as the new Devils head coach, but the two go pretty far back. Fitzgerald first met Ruff when the Devils general manager was a player with the Florida Panthers.
On Monday'ss edition of 'Speak of the Devils' podcast, Matt Loughlin and Amanda Stein are joined by Fitzgerald who tells the story of first meeting Ruff and just what type of character he was running into.
"Yeah, there was a young assistant coach, that just finished up playing and jumped right into coaching, Lindy Ruff was his name," Fitzgerald told the Speak of the Devils podcast, "and still acted like a player."
"He was a great card player, and he comes back and play cards with the guys [on the charter plane] and take all their money and go back to the front on the plane with the coaches. He took Bill Lindsay's money so often it really affected the way he played, and [head coach] Roger Neilson had to tell Lindy, you can't play cards anymore, with those guys. You just can't do it!"
What Ruff also was, was the team prankster.
Fitzgerald couldn't quite remember all the antics, but he sure knew who the locker room would turn to if something felt a bit off.
"You always went to him," Fitzgerald laughed. "If something was pulled, skate laces cut, you know, shaving cream in your shoes, you know, you name it… you always went to him first and he'd just laugh and just say 'wasn't me'. You couldn't trust him!"
For more stories and a behind the scenes look at the life of Tom Fitzgerald, be sure to stay tuned to for the upcoming podcast as the Devils General Manager recalls many great stories from childhood and his 1097 games in the NHL.