TIOPS NHL INSIDE BUZZ
*Shero Sought to Slow Play Things
*Will Fitzgerald get a legit shot?
*Marty Brodeur Factor
Despite being in the midst of missing the playoffs in four of five seasons, the New Jersey Devils firing Sunday night of General Manager Ray Shero was shocking to many and caught the league by surprise.
When the Devils fired John Hynes, the message Devils ownership was sending around the league was that they were all-in on Shero for the present and future. Signed through the 2022-2023 season, that was all the more reason of a belief Shero was going to have a long enough leash to try to turn things around where he would get through at least next season.
So what changed in the weeks leading up to the firing?
For one, voices from those under Shero started carrying a lot of weight with ownership that a change was needed. Sources say Shero in recent months battled with the couple key analytic hires who by the way report directly to the owner and Shero’s reluctance to involve Martin Brodeur as a legitimate voice in personnel decisions led to a deteriorating relationship with the ownership.
The league is buzzing over the last 24 hours that Brodeur over the last little while, aligned himself very close to Devils managing partner Josh Harris. So close, Brodeur is going to be a big-time player in personnel decisions no matter who the General Manager ends up being.
The final straw, sources say, was that after trying to make win-now moves for the 2019-2020 season that bombed, Shero and ownership were eventually on different hemisphere’s on the next steps. I’m told Shero wanted to slow play things, with one source describing his message being ‘let’s wait out the Capitals and Penguins’ and be committed to staying young and try to build out of this the low-risk way and be a legit contender in around three years.
Devils ownership wanted none of that. And you have to applaud them for doing it now in moving on from Shero. Why wait until the summer if you know this isn’t going to work out anymore. For all of the media pundits acting like Shero deserved a life time appointment because of his success in Pittsburgh, missing the playoffs four out of five seasons rarely see’s any General Manager’s being safe.
— Former Penguins Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald gets a deserved shot as interim GM, a top candidate around the league for several seasons now, but Fitzgerald is so closely aligned with Shero, you wonder if he’ll actually get fair consideration for the permanent position. Despite being close friends with Shero, it doesn’t mean Fitzgerald and Shero were on the same page on what direction the Devils should take.
The Marty Brodeur factor will loom large for candidates interviewing.
What is known already is that Brodeur is going to have a significant role in hockey decisions for the short-and-long term. Brodeur is not likely to take on the GM title, those in the know say he doesn’t seek the day-to-day workload it entails, but he’s primed to be a President of Hockey Operations figurehead type (with or without the title) and that’s how Devils ownership wants it.
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