Assistant General Manager Tom Fitzgerald Assigned To The Coaching Staff

October 16, 2019 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article
Assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald was named an intern assistant coach. (NJ Devils TV)

The Announcement

After a start to the season that hasnít gone particularly well, the New Jersey Devils and their fans have made it clear they are not happy with the coaching. Some took to chants during home games, others took to excessive complaining on social media. Hey, it was Devils’ Twitter that got us Nikita Gusev (or so we like to take credit for), maybe Devils’ Twitter can get us a new coaching staff.

Well, be careful what you wish for Devils’ fans. Come Wednesday morning, the Devils announced they have a new coach. Well, not a new head coach, but a new assistant coach. While John Hynes is still employed in the friendly confines of Newark, New Jersey, he will be joined by assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald. There is no immediate word on any other assistant coaching changes.

Who is Tom Fitzgerald?

Tom Fitzgerald had a consistent NHL career throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. His career achievement is being named the first captain in the history of the Nashville Predators. He also served in various capacities within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, including as an assistant coach. He also served as a director for player development during the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup championship.

What’s Next?

It may not have been the change Devils’ fans wanted, but if anything, it puts an extra set on eyes, along with some added pressure on John Hynes. It also builds a relationship to get rid of any disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff. Some unverified reports say that John Hynes’ job is safe, for now.

Amid reports saying the Devils aren’t looking to make a coaching change, there are also rumors saying Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers will be the best indicator of just how safe Hynes is.

The way I see it is if the Devils drop Thursday’s game, Hynes is sent packing. And Fitzgerald already has one foot in the door to be the interim head coach. If they win, Fitzgerald stays on to keep an extra eye on Hynes and keeps the fire lit under him. Official word is that Fitzgerald will stay in this capacity until the team, “gets back on track.” Donít expect Fitzgerald to retreat back to the front office any time soon.

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Riveters Split Series With Whitecaps

October 15, 2019 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article

On Saturday, the Metropolitan Riveters set out to spoil the championship banner raising by the Minnesota Whitecaps at their home opener just like they did to the Rivs a year ago. Their effort was failed, as they quickly fell into a hole and lost to the reigning champs, 9-2. However, the Metropolitan team bounced back on Sunday with a 4-3 win in OT.

This is the first time the Riveters have beaten the Whitecaps since they joined the league last season, as the Caps season swept them before winning the Isobel Cup championship.†

Game Summaries 

On Saturday we got a look at both Riveters’ goalies, as Sam Walther was taken out after letting up six goals. Dana DeMartino made her NWHL debut, letting up just three goals on 20 shots. DeMartino is a name you might recognize from her time as a high school boysí team starting goalie from Long Island who led her school to a state title before making the transition to womenís hockey in college.†

DeMartino making a behind-the-back save after getting flipped to face the net in Saturday’s game.

Despite this, Walther played the full game on Sunday and made 34 incredible saves. 

On Saturday, the Whitecaps claimed all three stars of the game, as both rookie Nicole Schammel and Jonna Curtis had four points apiece and Amanda Boulier had five. On Sunday, the Riveters cracked the top two with Rebecca Morse who scored the game-winner, and Kendall Cornine who had two goals on the day.†

Something Iíve been saying since the first Riveters preseason game was that they needed to work on the number of penalties they take in a game. And on Sunday, it seems they finally applied that mentality, and it paid off for their first win. On Saturday there was a total of 28 minutes served for penalties, 16 of them to the Riveters. This led to two power play goals by the Whitecaps. On Sunday, the Riveters only took three penalties.†

Packer tallied her second goal of the season on Saturday, inching closer to Pride captain Jillian Dempsey who leads the league in all-time goals, and Kendall Cornine is now averaging a goal per game so far.†

A somewhat shocking stat after three games is the Riveters 86 percent penalty kill rate. This was a team that last year couldnít keep it together much at all, but specifically with special teams, so to see the numbers jump so high should be exciting for a lot of Riveters fans.

Anna Keys, who was a late Saturday night addition to the Riveters’ roster this weekend, signed on a PTO contract and didnít make much noise on the ice but will certainly add some much-needed defensive depth to the team.

Looking Ahead 

Going into Minnesota to try and get a sweep is virtually impossible, and Iím sure anyone who follows the Riveters went into the series thinking a split would be completely acceptable, so Iím not stressing the lone loss too bad. It was the Rivetersí second game of the season and they are a team still trying to find their groove with such a high turnover rate in their roster, especially compared to the Whitecaps.†

For a season series where the Rivsí were steamrolled every meeting last year, game two this weekend proved that is a thing of the past. Their goalies can hang in under pressure, they arenít afraid to get physical in their opponentsí zone, and their offense can be effortless when applied correctly. 

We knew going into this season that defense was going to be the main issue. The Riveters played their first two games with just five defenders, which surely put a lot of pressure on them and squeezed as much time out of them as possible. The good news there is Kiira Dosdall, one of the few remaining original Riveters’ members, is slated to join the team in their next game to ease some of that pressure and hopefully help stop anyone from scoring nine goals on them again.†

The Riveters wonít play next weekend, but make their return to the ice Saturday, October 26 against the Pride in Boston. The NWHL action next weekend will be two seriesí between the 1-2 Buffalo Beauts and the 0-1 Connecticut Whale, and the both undefeated Pride and Whitecaps, which can all be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel.

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