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Sabres bring back familiar name as coach after playoff drought extends

The Buffalo Sabres will try to end the NHL’s longest playoff drought with the coach who last got them to the postseason.

Lindy Ruff, 64, was hired Monday to replace Don Granato, who was fired last week after the Sabres’ playoff drought hit 13 seasons. Ruff, himself, had been fired by the New Jersey Devils when the team took a big step back after making the playoffs following a 112-point season in 2022-23.

Ruff previously coached the Sabres from 1997-98 to 2012-13.

“As I went through the hiring process, it quickly became clear Lindy was the person for the job,’ general manager Kevyn Adams said in a statement. ‘He has experience, a proven track record, familiarity with young players, and so much more. I want to be clear though that this hire was not made with nostalgia in mind. Lindy is the right person for the job now and any history with our organization and community is simply an added bonus.’

Here’s what to know about the Sabres’ new/old coach:

All things Sabres: Latest Buffalo Sabres news, schedule, roster, stats, injury updates and more.

Lindy Ruff is the winningest coach in Sabres history

Ruff set franchise records in regular-season games coached (1,165), regular-season wins (571), playoff games coached (101), and playoff wins (57) during his first time with the team from 1997-98 to 2012-13. He went to the playoffs eight times, including three trips to the Eastern Conference final and one to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999. He coached the Sabres when they last made the playoffs in 2010-11 and was also their coach when the drought started the following season. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2005-06.

Lindy Ruff has a famous quote in Buffalo sports history

The Sabres lost to the Dallas Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final in the third overtime of Game 6. After the game, video replay showed that Brett Hull had his foot in the crease on his winning goal, which was against the rules at the time. In a Sabres postseason rally, Ruff wrapped up his appearance by saying, ‘No goal.’ Ruff would join the Stars the season after the Sabres fired him 17 games into the 2012-13 season.

Lindy Ruff is the fifth-winningest coach in NHL history

Ruff’s 864 career regular-season wins with the Sabres, Stars and Devils rank fifth in NHL history and is second among active coaches behind the Florida Panthers’ Paul Maurice (869). His 935 combined wins in the regular season and playoffs are tied for fourth in league history. He took the Stars to the playoffs twice and the Devils once (after a 40-point improvement). He was a finalist for coach of the year for the fourth time in his career last season. Ruff’s record is 864-679-78 in the regular season and 71-61 in the playoffs.

The Sabres have tried many coaches during the playoff drought

Since Ruff was first fired, the Sabres have been coached by Brian Rolston, Ted Nolan, Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley, Ralph Krueger and Granato without making the playoffs.

Lindy Ruff also played for the Sabres

Ruff began his NHL career as a Sabres defenseman in 1979-80 but switched to forward. He played nine-plus seasons in Buffalo before being traded to the New York Rangers in 1988-89. He was Sabres captain from 1986-87 until his trade. He finished his playing career with 300 points in 691 regular-season games and made the playoffs nine times. Including his playing and coaching time, he has spent parts of 25 seasons with the Sabres.

“This is a team ready to take the next step,’ Ruff said in a statement. ‘I am both humbled and honored to be trusted to help this team win now. It is not a job that I take lightly. It is my goal to ensure that players believe in each other, play for each other and love being a Buffalo Sabre.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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