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Devils sign coach Ruff to extension

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Ruff signs multiyear contract with Devils

Coach was Jack Adams Award finalist last season, led New Jersey to franchise records in wins, points


Lindy Ruff NJD behind bench


ByMike G. Morreale


@mikemorrealeNHL NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff signed a multiyear contract Wednesday.


Ruff, who was hired July 9, 2020, will enter his fourth season.


His four-year contract, which included an option for 2023-24, was set to expire at the end of this season.


"I'm humbled by the opportunity, and we're excited about where the group is and where we can go and I really like we're where the team is at and just want to continue," Ruff said. "We have a special group in Jersey and there's an opportunity to accomplish long-term success, make a lot of positive memories and give our fans a lot to cheer about."


The 63-year-old helped New Jersey (52-22-8, 112 points) to franchise records for wins and points last season, when it improved by 49 points over 2021-22, the largest year-over-year gain since the NHL implemented an 82-game schedule in 1995-96.


He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award voted as the top coach in the NHL for the fourth time, representing his third team (Buffalo Sabres, 2005-06, when he won the award, and 2006-07; Dallas Stars, 2015-16).


Ruff, who has been an NHL coach in some capacity for 30 straight years beginning as an assistant with the Florida Panthers in 1993-94, is proud of the way he’s evolved as a coach over the years.


"Coaching is so much different than year one," Ruff said. "I'll only bring up the understanding, communicating and listening to the players so that you basically have a partnership with them now. They have to understand what you're trying to do with your coaching staff, and we have to understand a lot of times where they're coming from.


"In dealing with those type of players today, it's a challenge, but I think that if you have the ability to listen and communicate with them, which I think has come a long ways from my day one of coaching, both individuals can grow."


One such player is Devils center Jack Hughes, who set a franchise record with 99 points (43 goals, 56 assists) in 78 games last season.


"I think he came in here and he just told me ... he kind of let me run," Hughes said. "He was just like, 'Man, I think you can be a special player.' He's just allowed me to develop as a player and just allowed me to be me. That's the best part about Lindy, in my case.


He's just allowed me to be myself and he's empowered me. At the same time, he's coached me hard, but he's just been the guy that's gotten me to where I'm at in my career so I got a lot of respect for him.


"We're heading into our fourth year now, so it's a lot of trust in the relationship with each other. I think we're both really excited for this year and we'll continue to help move the team up the mountain."


Ruff appreciates what Hughes has been able to do his past four seasons and has a good idea on how he can become an even better player.

"I think it's important for a young player to know that his gift is something that you got to let him execute," Ruff said.


"At his pace and speed, he sees things a lot different probably than anybody else sees it. You got to understand that you have to live with some mistakes as a coach. I think that's where we were. I think [Hughes] also understands now that there's a time and a place for some of his special skills."


Ruff is fifth in NHL history in games coached (1,713) and wins (834). He also had 300 points (105 goals, 195 assists) in 691 games as an NHL defenseman for the Sabres and New York Rangers from 1979-91.


Last season, the Devils qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2018 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Second Round for the first time since 2012.


Ruff is looking forward to building on what the team accomplished last season.


"We've earned the right to embrace expectations," Ruff said.


"That's something that going into last year we talked a lot about ... playing meaningful games and being a playoff team. We ended up in a great position. Now we know what is expected, we know where we're at and I think you have to welcome that challenge.


"Really the next step for our club is to know that we're not going to surprise anybody. That everybody is going to be ready for us and you've got recognition for how well you've played as a team."

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