By Will Martin
Call it a proper alignment of the stars. Call it a matter of everything falling into place. Maybe it’s just a crazy destiny that takes you home in more ways than one.
How else to describe what went down in the last month for the pride of Warburg, Canada? Knowing that Lindy Ruff would be making a trip to Sochi Russia to represent team Canada in the Winter Olympics and to have player Jamie Benn by your side. That’s pretty amazing.
How many coaches get to lay claim to being able to celebrating AND winning the Gold for your country? In 2014 Lindy Ruff was able to do that. The numbers continue to pile up for this one time Sabre player/coach and New York Ranger.
Against the Buffalo Sabres, of all teams, on Monday night March 3rd the Dallas Stars would collect a 3-2 victory over the last place Sabres led by Ted Nolan to continue a strong hold on the #8 seed in the Western Conference. The victory brought the ever improving Stars to 29-22-10. Crazier that you had goals made by Jordie Benn and Alex Goligoski-their 3rd each. 3 and 3 on March 3rd. Oh yes, Alex wears #33. Hows that for numerical harmony?
Even better, the win was career win #600 for Lindy Ruff. In reaching this milestone Ruff becomes only the 12th coach in NHL history to reach 600. It was a journey that began back on 10-1-97 with a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in what was a long tenure with the Buffalo Sabres before being fired and starting fresh in Dallas this season.
Coach Ruff was more content with the win.
“I had some real good teams … a Presidents’ Trophy team [in 2006-07 with Buffalo],” Ruff said. “Those wins for the most part belong to the guys on the ice who go out and get them for you. To me, we needed that two points to help move up the standings. It was the most important thing.”
The game wining goal the night of this nationally televised was provided by Alex Chiasson who really didn’t care how the goal happened, by stick, or by that part of his person they call the shin guard.
“It was definitely big for Lindy,” Chiasson said. “When you look at the numbers, he’s won 600 in the League. I think that means you’ve been around for quite a bit and you’ve been successful. We’re happy for him and definitely to win against his old team makes it a lot better.”
For the first time since the 2007-2008 season there is the talk of a possible playoff return in Dallas as March now makes its run to the second season. The road will be a fun albeit bumpy one. Consider that one year ago in February Lindy Ruff was relieved of his duties with the Sabres. Small wonder that now appears to be a team in disarray in the front office.
To give you an idea of what longevity means in the NHL consider the following:
April 5th 2006, Ruff became the 31st NHL coach to reach 300 career wins. At the time only the 16th to do it with one team.
October 15th 2008, he became the 23rd coach to reach 400 career wins and only the 7th to do so for one team.
January 6th 2011, Ruff became the 16th NHL coach to reach 500 career wins and only the 2nd to do so for one team. Proof that its lonely at the top.
March 3rd 2014, he is now only the 12th coach in NHL history to have 600 career wins. Lindy joins a list of people that includes Jacques Martin (613 wins), Jacques Lemaire (617 wins), Bryan Murray (620 wins), Ken Hitchcock (621 wins), and Ron Wilson (648 wins). Sometime in 2014-2015 Lindy Ruff will get to #6 all time in wins.
After that leap then its up to Mike Keenan (672 wins), Pat Quinn (684 wins), Dick Irvin Sr. (694 wins) and we’ll stop for now. Scotty Bowman sits at the top with 1,244. That means at this rate Lindy Ruff will have to coach for another 15 years to pass the great Scotty Bowman.
Hockey fans in Dallas thank Lindy Ruff for making hockey night in Dallas fun again. Even so Lindy is not thrilled about what has happened in Buffalo. Consider what he said back in November for his first visit as the opponent.
“I am saddened by the current status of the Buffalo Sabres. I am deeply disappointed in the direction the team has gone since my leaving. I wish them all the best, and hope for winning days ahead, but not tonight.” This being said on his first day back to Buffalo, in which the Stars won 4-3.
Dallas is very fortunate to have Lindy Ruff in the mix. Congrats on #600!