Dallas Stars' fans with long memories can recall when in 1999 Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff complained, quite correctly, that Brett Hull was in the crease to score the Stanley Cup-winning goal. Or maybe they remember when Ruff and then-Stars coach Ken Hitchcock barked back and forth during that series.
Forget what you remember or think about the man - Ruff can survive and coach.
Having given up on the idea of landing Dave Tippett, first-year Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is reportedly hiring Ruff to be his first head coach. This is a good move, and one of the few predictions I actually ever nailed.
Brown wrote, "Lites said he shook Ruff's hand in Frisco as he walked to his car to head to Fort Worth, saying that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Stars would sign Ruff."
Ruff has demonstrated, repeatedly, he can coach to whatever talent is handed to him. He can coach young or old, and this should end what has been a series of bad coaching hires by a franchise in desperate need of a proven NHL coach.
One of the least celebrated but more impressive achievements in the NHL over the last 20 years is that Ruff lasted in one job from the fall of 1997 to 2013 when he was finally let go.
Ruff lasted, and won, in one of the more difficult jobs in the entire league. He survived despite multiple ownership and front office situations, and never having the league's best players.
In Ruff's tenure with the Sabres the team had one losing record. They reached the conference finals once, a Stanley Cup finals once, and did so despite never coming close to having the most talented team in the Eastern Conference. Although, he did have goalie Dominik Hasek in his prime so ...
By the time he was fired this year he clearly had been in Buffalo too long. This was not a case of an organization firing a bad coach but merely finding a new face, and voice, to lead their roster.
Ruff isn't going to sell any tickets or create headlines because no one would in this market other than to bring back Hitchcock or hiring Scotty Bowman, but Ruff is the right guy.
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