After firing head coach Peter DeBoer, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello announced that rather than replace him with a new bench boss, he would bring on Adam Oates and Scott Stevens to split the duties.
Oates will run the team’s forwards while Stevens is in charge of the defense. Neither has an official title or clear authority over the other and both are potentially competing to eventually become the Devils’ head coach. It sets up a situation that could be both awkward and full of drama.
At least initially though, Oates and Stevens are attempting to present themselves as a united front.
“We’re on the same page here,” Stevens said, per NJ.com. “We’re going to work closely together here and try to get this ship righted. We’re going to expect hard work and get that devil identity back to where it was.”
Oates uttered his agreement and added, “I think it’s going to be an easy transition for us.”
He went on to predict that everything will be “kind of collective” and the two will talk out everything. But what happens when they strongly disagree? What happens when they’re in the middle of a losing streak and perhaps Oates feels there’s a defensive issue or vice versa? What happens if tension develops between the two?
New Jersey is nine points behind in the playoff race, which is a steep, but not insurmountable obstacle. Can Oates and Stevens make this work in order to guide the Devils back into the playoffs?