Alain Nasreddine will return as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils next season after he was not retained as coach.
Nasreddine replaced John Hynes as New Jersey coach Dec. 3, 2019. The Devils hired Lindy Ruff as coach on July 9.
“[Alain] is very excited about (returning as an assistant), as are we,” Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said Friday. “When you can keep a young talent like Alain, who did a good job with our group. It was a tough situation, but he handled it well. He learned a lot and grew as a young head coach (turned 45 on July 10).”
New Jersey was next to last in the Eastern Conference when Nasreddine replaced Hynes. From the time of the coaching change until the NHL regular season ended March 11 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the Devils were 19-16-8 (11th in the conference), were No. 1 in the NHL on the penalty kill (86.0 percent), and tied for 15th on the power play (21.2 percent).
New Jersey (28-29-12, .493 points percentage) tied the Buffalo Sabres for 13th in the 16-team Eastern Conference.
“He’s very excited about the opportunity to work with Lindy Ruff, who with the amount of experience and what he has learned, are things that will only benefit Alain as a future head coach in this league,” said Fitzgerald, who was promoted to GM when Ray Shero was fired Jan. 12.
“Alain takes a lot of pride in growing our young defense and takes a lot of pride in working the penalty kill and we’re excited to have him.”
New Jersey hired Mark Recchi as an assistant on Sept. 8. Fitzgerald said Mike Grier, who was an assistant the past two seasons, and goaltending coach Roland Melanson, will not return.
“[Mike] was offered to come back, and we would have loved for Mike to come back, but he felt it would be in his best interest to return home with his family,” Fitzgerald said. “If something comes up that gives him the opportunity to grow more with more responsibilities than what we could have offered him, then he’ll consider that.”