Lindy Ruff is the new coach of the Dallas Stars, an interesting twist for the coach who was on the other side of the franchise’s only Stanley Cup championship.
Ruff coached 15 seasons for the Buffalo Sabres before being fired in February, when he was the NHL’s longest active-serving coach with one team.
The Stars announced Ruff’s hiring Friday in a news release and on the team’s website. An introductory news conference was scheduled later Friday.
The Sabres’ only Stanley Cup appearance under Ruff came in 1999, his second season as Buffalo’s coach. They lost to the Stars after Brett Hull’s controversial series-winning goal late in third overtime of Game 6.
While the Stars celebrated the title, NHL officials reviewed the goal to determine if Hull’s skate was in the goalie’s crease before having control of the puck. The goal stood, giving Dallas its only championship.
For Ruff and Sabres fans, that game has become known as "No Goal!"
Ruff was the first significant hire for new general manager Jim Nill, the 15-year Detroit Red Wings assistant GM who signed a five-year deal in April to replace the fired Joe Nieuwendyk.
"One of the trademarks of successful organizations is their ability to have continuity and stability for an extended period of time," Nill said in the release. "It is clear from Lindy’s record, and from our own conversations, that we have found the right person to provide that stability and lead this club to the next level. His steady hand and experience will prove invaluable in returning our team as a top-tier contender in the NHL."
Two weeks after Nill was hired, he decided not to renew the third-year option for coach Glen Gulutzan.
The Stars have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, the longest postseason drought in team history. They were 22-22-4 this season, last in the Pacific Division.
Because Ruff still had two seasons left on his contract with Buffalo, the Stars had to get permission from the Sabres to talk to the 53-year-old coach.
"I am honored to being joining the Dallas Stars organization," Ruff said in the release. "After speaking at length with Jim Nill, it was clear that all the right pieces are coming together to return this club to the upper echelon of the NHL. I look forward to leading the resurgence."
Nill initially talked to Ruff at the draft combine in Toronto last month. Jim Lites, the Stars president, told those attending a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday that Ruff was in Frisco that day for more interviews with Nill.
It was 14 years ago Thursday that Game 6 ended in the early morning — more than 15 minutes into the third overtime.
Ruff was the Sabres’ winningest coach (571-432-162), but was fired after Buffalo got off to a 6-10-1 in this year’s NHL lockout-shortened season. There had been 170 NHL coaching changes between his hiring in July 1997 until he was fired.
The Sabres made the playoffs in each of Ruff’s first four seasons and eight times overall.
As a player, Ruff was selected in the second round of the 1979 draft by the Sabres and made the team that year. He was later the Sabres’ captain, playing for Buffalo until being traded to the New York Rangers in 1989.