For the past podcast episodes, go to NewJerseyDevils.com/podcast
For this episode of the Speak of the Devils podcast, newly promoted General Manager Tom Fitzgerald talked with podcast hosts Matt Loughlin and Amanda Stein. Fitzgerald served as Interim General Manager from January until he was announced as GM in July.
Fitzgerald discussed what he learned serving as the Interim General Manager for the Devils over the last seven months.
"I learned that the Assistant General Manager has the greatest job in the world," Fitzgerald joked. "There are a lot of aspects of managing that isn't just about managing your hockey team, it's about transparency. It's about communication with your ownership group, your senior leadership group, your team."
The GM also gave some insight into being offered the Interim General Manager role following the dismissal of Ray Shero. Shero brought Fitzgerald onboard to the Devils organization and has served as a mentor for him throughout his career.
"You walk into an office and there's multiple people there and it's quiet and then you get the news and are asked to think about taking on this responsibility, and you know, it just took the wind out of me, I mean to be quite frank. You know your friend just lost his job, your mentor."
"I've said it over and over again, it takes a village to raise a family and the village has really helped lift me up to this position."
Fitzgerald also discussed his youth hockey days, playing professional hockey and working in professional hockey throughout his career. He credits his parents with keeping him grounded throughout the years, and allowing him to explore different sports, while supporting his youth hockey career.
"It all starts with the parents, keeping you grounded, keeping you humble, keeping you family oriented, family first," said Fitzgerald. "My dad would always say, even though you are a pro hockey player now, never forget where you came from, because that matters."
"I've always leaned on that a lot and treat people the way you would like to be treated. So the foundation obviously starts with every parent. But in particular, my parents encouraged me to play other sports. It wasn't hockey 365, it was the love of finding your baseball glove on opening day, and then the first time that you smell the hockey rink in early September, it was a special time. So those are all things I remember as a kid, those special moments in sports."
Although the 2019-20 regular season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fitzgerald says it has given him an opportunity to increase that communication and transparency over the last few months within the organization.
"I think the pandemic, the silver lining of this whole situation was it gave our organization time to kind of regroup, but it gave me an opportunity to continue to learn the business side of it," said Fitzgerald. "Setting up weekly calls with my team and just communicating what's been going on through the NHL or what's going on with your organization."
"I think people really appreciate that because they want to feel like family. And then if you're giving them information that is family oriented, then they feel like they're part of something special."