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BIG READ: The Path Forward

An in-depth look at the Devils decision to name Tom Fitzgerald the Executive Vice President and General Manager, and Lindy Ruff Head Coach

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

On January 12, 2020, Tom Fitzgerald stepped in front of a media contingency shoulder to shoulder with New Jersey Devils Managing Partner Josh Harris. His head, rightfully spinning.

The Devils were giving Fitzgerald a tremendous opportunity that many would love but few achieve: to step in as the general manager of a National Hockey League franchise.

"I never thought I'd become a general manager like this," he said, showing the emotion one would come to expect when taking over for a friend and mentor. Harris opined confidence in Fitzgerald at the time, stating the franchise was lucky to have an executive like Fitzgerald waiting in the wings for a chance to prove himself.

Nearly six months later, serving under the weight of the uncertainty of the interim tag, navigating the perils of an international pandemic, a hockey season paused and then ended prematurely, a multitude of trades, and a coaching search, Fitzgerald still stands. And better yet, he stands taller than before, assured of his place with the organization and newly dubbed the Executive Vice President and full-time General Manager of the New Jersey Devils.

"When Tom took over the role of GM in January, we were committed to moving the organization in a new direction," Managing Partners Harris and David Blitzer said in a joint statement. "Having gone through the process of interviewing various candidates, including Tom, and reviewing his work in the interim, we feel that he is the best fit for the New Jersey Devils moving forward."

As the organization presses to move forward with Fitzgerald steering the ship, the club has also found their next head coach. The coaching search, led by Fitzgerald but involving the club's leadership group, determined Lindy Ruff was the best fit to stand behind the bench at Prudential Center for the coming years.

"Here's the reality," said Blitzer. "We think the core of our team is very exciting for a very long period of time."

But that core needs to be directed properly.

"It was about the right coach at the right time for the right team," said President of the New Jersey Devils, Jake Reynolds.

But what does that mean exactly? What went into entrusting Fitzgerald in this role? What went into tabbing Ruff as "the guy" and what ultimately swayed the Devils to carve a path forward led by these two?

We'll start at the beginning.

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BIG READ: Capturing the Cup

An in-depth look at the run to the Devils 2000 Stanley Cup championship with interviews with key members of that team

by Peter Robinson NJDevils / NewJerseyDevils.com

Twenty years. Two decades. 

It's been that long since the Devils beat the Dallas Stars in double overtime to win the club's second Stanley Cup. 

That's a lot of time for hair to turn grey, for hairlines to recede and for waistlines to grow. 

Even great teams and great players age. Franchise architect Lou Lamoriello, the man who built all three Devils championship squads, pointed out that some young fathers on his championship teams are now grandfathers. 

Video: MATT AND THE MAVEN | 2000 Cup Team

Imagine the stories being told to Devils grandchildren?  

"If you want me to go through the entire team, each and every player, I'm (happy) to do it," said Lou Lamoriello, said to his interviewer during a recent chat, later adding, "this is bringing back a lot of good memories," 

Lamoriello was in a talkative mood. A handful of other players, hockey figures and fans were consulted in recent months ahead of the celebration of the 2000 Cup triumph. 

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BIG READ: Pride

In the latest issue of the Devils Big Read, we tell you the stories from our pride panelists and more

by Catherine Bogart / NewJerseyDevils.com

On January 4, 2020, the Devils hosted their annual Pride Night at Prudential Center.

Ahead of the game, the organization held an informative panel, featuring members of the LGBTQ community, moderated by Olympic Gold Medalist Meghan Duggan. We collected their stories, as well as the story of Eli who we profiled ahead of the evening, and compiled them for this edition of Devils Big Read.

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BIG READ: Nico's Nature

In our latest issue of the Devils Big Read, we take a look at the Swiss-born talent Nico Hischier and his journey to becoming a hockey hero in his home country

by Amanda Stein amandacstein / NewJerseyDevils.com

Sometimes, Nico Hischier can feel it.

He can feel the stares he might get, sitting with friends in a restaurant or walking down the street. He's aware he draws attention - particularly in Switzerland. He says it's most notable in his small town of Naters, not far from the Matterhorn.

"I don't feel it all the time, but sometimes you know they're staring at you. It's obvious. Sometimes you're almost like 'should I go ask him if he wants a photo?'"

He doesn't mind. And he completely understands.

Nico just considers himself Nico.

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