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Devils Hold Prospect Camp Without Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils welcomed their prospects Monday, a class that includes fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson. But there’s one noticeable vacancy overshadowing all of them.

It’s not the lack of forward Mattias Tedenby, who will miss camp because of visa issues. The Devils have yet to name a head coach, and will not do so this week.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record that the team will have a coach soon. They just won’t have him installed this week.

“It won’t be long,” Lamoriello told Gulitti. “(But) it won’t be this week.”

The delay in naming a new head coach has stretched longer than any time in recent memory. Several names were tied to the vacancy, but none were named by management as targets. Mike Haviland, a Chicago Blackhawks assistant and a New Jersey native, found his name once again connected to a Devils head coaching vacancy. Former NHL coaches Ken Hitchcock and Michel Therrien both found themselves mentioned as possibilities. Some media members speculated that ex-Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay could fill the position. But after his termination, he joined the Florida Panthers staff.

Media reports even linked the Devils to the collegiate ranks. Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, rumored to want a NHL head coaching job, found himself mentioned in the pool of possible candidates. He denied any connection to the position in a report two weeks ago.

With no coach in place, Larry Robinson will lead camp. He twice served as head coach, and spent last season as an assistant. He, like many others, is not an option for the coaching vacancy.

It seems the organization views the situation with a laid-back feeling. But the team should be concerned. They need to establish a system, and the rookies should have an opportunity to prove themselves in front of the most important decision makers. Instead, the players skate for people who don’t hold much control over roster decisions. It’s also important for these young players to learn the system of their (possible) future head coach.

At this time next week, the Devils may have a new head coach. But it’s once again another significant offseason event where the Devils lag behind the rest of the league.

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