The New Jersey Devils today named Tom Fitzgerald to the position of Assistant General Manager. The announcement was made by Devils’ General Manager Ray Shero.
"Tom Fitzgerald has extensive experience as both a player and now in hockey operations, having served in several significant roles over the past eight seasons," said Shero. "He is well-respected throughout the league, and I feel that he is an ideal fit for our team. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Pittsburgh Penguins for their cooperation in allowing Tom to join our organization."
Fitzgerald, 46, retired as an NHL player following the 2005-06 season. He began his post-playing career in 2007-08 when he joined Shero's staff in Pittsburgh as the Director of Player Development. He was named Assistant Coach on February 15, 2009, where he was instrumental in helping the Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship. In the summer of 2009, he was promoted to the position of Assistant to the General Manager, where he served for five years. He was promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager of the Penguins on June 6, 2014 where he served until joining the Devils today.
Interesting timing that Shero hires Fitz the DAY after NJD overlord Lou Lamoriello left that franchise to surprisingly take the Toronto Maple Leafs GM job. This move was probably in the works for a while, but the timing surely isn't coincidental and really shows that Shero's the top dog left in Jersey.
As far as the Penguins go, meh, they'll survive. Fitzgerald is and was a respected hockey mind, but in the former 3-assistant pecking order he has seemed to fall behind Bill Guerin in the past year, as Guerin has been observed working very closely with current GM Jim Rutherford. Jason Botterill, technically a step-above Guerin/Fitzgerald as "Associate" general manager is still presumed to be the top lieutenant, first in line and being groomed for the full GM role.
I thought our own GoPens, summed it up well.
2 good things about Fitz leaving: (1) pens thin the herd of AGMs, and (2) pens lose a development guy who never really developed anyone.
— Lyle Kossis (@LyleKossis) July 24, 2015
Fitzgerald was really best in 2009 in his assistant coaching role, but reportedly didn't want to make the travel commitment and be away from his family so much with the time constraints placed on a full-time coach. So the Pens tried to keep him in the organization, and maybe he did some good things in his front office role, but there's not a lot to tangibly point to any direct gains or results he helped the team with. And, as clearly obvious, he's much more of a "Shero guy" than with the current regime, so it helps to thin the herd in that way.