New Jersey Devils fire Lindy Ruff, promote Travis Green

Phillip Danault scores hat trick in Kings' win over Devils (1:15)

Phillip Danault scores three goals in the Kings' win over the Devils. (1:15)

The New Jersey Devils, struggling to contend in a clogged Eastern Conference a season after winning a playoff round last season, fired coach Lindy Ruff on Monday, the team announced.

Travis Green, an assistant for Ruff and the former coach of the Vancouver Canucks, was named the club's interim coach. The announcement was made by Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald, a day after New Jersey lost to the Los Angeles Kings 5-1.

Green will start in his role at Tuesday's morning skate in advance of a home game vs. the Florida Panthers. The remaining existing assistants -- Ryan McGill, Chris Taylor, Sergei Brylin and goaltending coach Dave Rogalski -- will all remain on staff.

"I hold our entire organization to the highest levels of accountability to focus on being a competitive team that expects to be a perennial playoff contender," Fitzgerald said. "Unfortunately, we are not currently at that level, and I needed to make this decision."

Ruff was hired with the objective that he could take what was considered to be a promising future that was centered around stars such as Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, among others, and parlay it into long-term success.

"This was an extremely difficult conversation to have with Lindy based on the relationship that he and I have," Fitzgerald said. "He was the right coach to develop our young players on the ice, and above all else, he is a tremendous person."

The Devils gave Ruff a multiyear extension before the start of the season, which was his last under his previous contract. But as time wore on -- and chants of "Fire Lindy!" continued to be heard at home games -- the change seemed like it was inevitable. The Devils have lost three of the last four games, and were outscored last weekend, 9-4, in an 0-2 swing through the Los Angeles area. Two days before the loss to the Kings, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Anaheim Ducks.

"Travis has key experience running benches at the junior, AHL and NHL levels and knows that there are no shortcuts to success," Fitzgerald said. "He is a high-demanding individual who is familiar with the group and excited about working to get us back on track."

The Devils, with several young stars under long-term contracts, entered the season among the league's more talked-about clubs. They topped 100 points last season and defeated the rival New York Rangers in the first round.

In the offseason, they acquired additional scoring punch in the form of winger Tyler Toffoli, and were clearly trying to build off the positive momentum around a club that hadn't made the postseason, before last spring, since 2018.

But New Jersey has struggled defensively, after losing veterans Damon Severson and Ryan Graves in free agency last summer, and those woes have continued on into the crease. The Devils have used three goaltenders this season, none of whom has shown the consistency needed to be a full-time starter.

Green, 53, was hired as an assistant in June of last year, and replaced Andrew Brunette, who left to take the head-coaching position with the Nashville Predators. Green was Vancouver's coach for parts of five seasons, amassing a 133-147-34 record.

Green, a former teammate of Fitzgerald with the New York Islanders, led the Canucks to the second round of the 2020 postseason, which was played in the Edmonton bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ruff, 64, departs the Devils after coaching the team to a 128-125-28 record in 281 regular-season games over three-plus seasons. New Jersey went 5-7 in the playoffs last season with Ruff, having lost in five games to the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2. Ruff was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award after last season.

With the Devils moving on from Ruff, they have become the seventh NHL team to make an in-season coaching change this season. They join the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and Kings.

The Devils will enter Tuesday's game with 64 points, eight away from the No. 2 wild-card spot in the East. With the trade deadline this week, Green's club might look much different by Friday than it will at Tuesday's morning skate.

Information from ESPN NHL reporter Ryan S. Clark and The Associated Press was used in this report.