By Martin Iheke
It took a while, but the Dallas Stars finally hired a head coach after dismissing Glen Gulutzan last month. His name is Lindy Ruff, formerly the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 1997-2013. For most longtime Stars fans, they remember him for his “No Goal” comment after the controversial goal scored by Brett Hull in Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals to win the Cup for the Stars over the Sabres. That was 14 years ago almost exactly to the day he was officially hired by the Stars. Now, he is glad to be given another opportunity to coach again in the NHL after the Sabres fired him in February.
“First of all, I’d like to thank Mr. Gaglardi and Jim Nill for this unbelievable opportunity. I’m really excited and really looking forward to helping this club with their resurgence,” Ruff said according to dallasnews.com. “After sitting down with Jim [Nill] several times and going through the process, I realized that we had a very committed owner. We had a real strong management that was all on the same page and this team was similar to where I was at with our team on several occasions. We’re real excited to be part of it. I think we’ve got a good, young team, a good, talented young team that I am really looking forward to working with and helping them get back in the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup,” as he continued. That is definitely the goal. Get the Stars back into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and eventually win another Stanley Cup.
Ruff has a terrific record with a 571-432-162 as a head coach all with the Sabres makes him the all-time winningest coach of their franchise and 12th winningest in NHL history according to ESPN.com. He guided the team to the playoffs eight out of his fifteen seasons there with four trips to the conference finals and one appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. His ability to adapt to whatever roster that was given to him is very key which is one of the biggest reasons why he lasted as long as he did in one place and that is very rare in the NHL. He also had to deal with a lack of ownership for a while which can be very tough. Most coaches do not last more than three years let alone fifteen if they are not consistent and have the ultimate respect from their players. The challenge for him now is whether he can get the most out of the players here like Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and some of the other young players on this team in getting them to believe they can win on any given night.
It does say a lot about someone lasting as long as they have in one place and having tremendous success as well as being fiery. That and stability is something that attracted general manager Jim Nill about Ruff. “Well, when Lindy and I first met, we walked through that. He asked me the same question, why did I change? And I said you know what, it was time and I told him it energizes you,” Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “When we met again, I could see the fire in his eyes and he’s ready to go. That’s what really excited me when I talked to him and I know I’ve got a coach still with great experience, but I know he’s energized. He’s back and that’s exciting for this Dallas organization,” as he continued.
This is a good hire by the Dallas Stars. A coach who has had success in the league and knows how to handle any circumstance that has been thrown his way not to mention he is a disciplinarian. I do view him as more of a defensive-minded coach that gets his players to play on both ends of the ice, but does not mind being aggressive offensively. The pieces here are almost in place. Now the Stars have a coach who is ready to lead this team back to the top again.