As it was announced on Hockey Night in Canada, the now head coach-less New York Rangers have received permission from the Buffalo Sabres to pursue former player and bench boss Lindy Ruff. Also being pursued by the now Alain Vigneault-less Vancouver Canucks, it’s getting to be a free market for head coaches, with Ruff being a part of the search.
The question is, will Buffalo be coached against by their former head coach come puck drop in October?
Ruff spent nine and a half seasons with the Buffalo Sabres as a player, on top of the 15 years spent behind the bench as a head coach, being a part of the organization for 25 years.
He was traded halfway through the 1988-1989 season, where he was dealt to the New York Rangers for a draft pick in the upcoming draft.
Ruff, who was fired by the Buffalo Sabres on February 20th 2013, 16 games into the lockout-plagued 2012-2013 season, spent 15 seasons behind the Buffalo bench. He was the longest tenured coach in the NHL up until the day he was fired.
In his 15-year coaching tenure with the Sabres, Ruff brought the team to the Eastern Conference Finals his first year in the 1997-1998 season where the team lost to the Washington Capitals 4 games to 2.
Ruff followed that season with a berth to the Stanley Cup Finals the following season in 1998-1999 against the Dallas Stars, where the famous “No Goal” chant Ruff passionately yelled, was started.
Among those two things, Ruff’s resume included two nominations for the Jack Adams in the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, where he won it in the 05-06 season; multiple Eastern Conference Finals appearances; and the first Sabres coach to have two back-to-back 50-win seasons.
Other notable things in Ruff’s career was his tenacity and passion for the team he coached for so long.
For example, Buffalo fans, who remembers the highlight of the 2006-2007 season?
No? Does the date February 22, 2007 ring a bell?
If you guessed the famous Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres brawl, you’re correct!
On this day, former captain Chris Drury was blindsided by Ottawa bad boy Chris Neil, clearly after Drury had sent the puck away.
This prompted Ruff to send out the Enforcers. Consisting of Adam Mair, Patrick Kaleta, and Andrew Peters, Buffalo fans cheered loudly and stood to what they were about to watch. Ruff went after Ottawa head coach Bryan Murray, blasting him for what he saw on the ice.
A link to the video is posted here.
Ruff was fined $10,000 by the NHL for sending out the players, which was considered as initiating the fight.
Among this, Ruff became the 23rd coach to win 400 games, 7th with only one team, the 16th to win 500 games, the 2nd coach to do this with only one team.
After a 2-1 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes, Ruff became the winningest coach to coach one team with his 501st win.
Jim Nill, the current Dallas Stars GM, has stated that this postseasons coaching picks is a “strong coaching market.”
It’s a toss up to where Ruff might end up, but the strange coincidence is that Ruff, coaching the Buffalo Sabres, could possibly end up with the team who he was traded for back in 1989, the New York Rangers.
It was sad to see him go, personally for me, but wherever he may land, he will do an amazing job.
If he lands the job in New York, or for that matter any team in the Eastern Conference, all I can say is, game on.