The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and are just 1-9-1 in their last 11 games. Time and time again as head coach Lindy Ruff has stated it is the little mistakes that have cost the Devils. because right now the Devils have no margin for error.
In an impromptu press conference held on Monday afternoon, general manager Tom Fitzgerald still believes in the team he put together and instead of pointing the finger at the head coach, Fitzgerald put it back on the players to be more accountable for their mistakes.
“I believe it has to come from that room,” Fitzgerald said. “They have to keep each other accountable. They have to push each other. They have to be committed to each other, the guy next to you, the guy across from you.”
But accountability at this point is not just on the players in the room and on the ice. It has to come from the top as well. Tom Fitzgerald went on to say he supports the coach and the staff, but the players need to heed the tutelage of the coaching staff. That is all well and good if the message from the coaching staff does not feel worn out. And right now something is not working between the coaching staff and the players. As the message is getting lost and the structure in the system is breaking down.
“We can lay down structure, but until they push each other like we were doing at the beginning of the year then you will see change,” Tom Fitzgerald added. But I believe in the group because of what we saw coming out of training camp. We have to get that team back.”
However, with no chance to practice or reintroduce the structure over the holiday break, one has to wonder where are the answers going to come from? And how does this continually happen where little mental gaps and mistakes little to back-breaking goals and defeats?
Good teams know how to overcome the odds and deal with injuries. The Devils are a young team no matter how much they want to say they are maturing. New Jersey is a young team with young leadership that has yet to experience winning collectively as a group. Captain Nico Hischier is still young in his role as team leader and development. The same goes for Jack Hughes and the list goes on.
Damon Severson, a veteran, who has been there the longest is clearly frustrated with the losing and wants to win. He let his opinion be heard loudly on Saturday night.
“It’s brutal. It’s frustrating. COVID. We’re missing guys. We’re losing. Everything that could go wrong seems to be right now,” defenseman Damon Severson said after the Devils 5-2 loss to Detroit on Saturday night. “We have to nip it in the bud right now because it’s going to keep coming back and we’re going to keep losing if we don’t dial it in.”
This is all well and good, but others need to feel the same way and not let guys get away with making mistakes. There have to be consequences either from teammates, coaching staff, or management. But right now nobody is holding anyone accountable, they are just pointing fingers and that is not a receipt for success.
Eventually, something will have to give. And when things are structurally broken inside an organization it bleeds onto the ice. And we are clearly seeing the Devils continue to be a work in progress. Because right now the answers are not in the room, no matter how much they want to believe that.
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