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Sabres hire Lindy Ruff as coach. He guided Buffalo to the playoffs in 2011

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Sabres hire Lindy Ruff as coach. He guided Buffalo to the playoffs in 2011
News

News

Sabres hire Lindy Ruff as coach. He guided Buffalo to the playoffs in 2011

2024-04-23 07:55 Last Updated At:08:00

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Lindy Ruff has some unfinished business in Buffalo.

Some 11 years after being fired as the Sabres' winningest coach, and following head-coaching stops in Dallas and New Jersey, the 64-year-old Ruff is getting his old job back after being hired by the Sabres on Monday. He takes over a team in the midst of an NHL-record 13-season playoff drought, replacing Don Granato, who was fired last week after three-plus seasons behind the bench.

For Ruff, the hiring marks a homecoming. The former Sabres defenseman and captain went on to spend 14-plus seasons coaching the team, including its final postseason appearance — a seven-game, first-round loss to Philadelphia in 2011.

His return also revives the memory of Ruff’s bid to defend his job in Buffalo a week before he was fired when he said: “It’s on me to clean up this mess. ... And I’m not done trying.”

The mess has grown substantially since he departed a month into the NHL’s lockout-shortened 2013 season.

During that 11-year span, the Sabres have finished with the NHL’s worst record four times, are now on their seventh coach and fourth general manager, and have undergone several rebuilding phases. The team closed last season with the NHL’s youngest roster.

In hiring Ruff, general manager Kevyn Adams fulfilled his vision of bringing in a coach with extensive experience.

Ruff won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year with Buffalo in 2006. He ranks fifth on the career list with 1,774 games coached and 864 victories, with a franchise-record 571 coming in Buffalo.

Adams’ brief career as an assistant coach began in 2011, when he was hired to work under Ruff in Buffalo.

“As I went through the hiring process, it quickly became clear Lindy was the person for the job,” Adams said. “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. I believe wholeheartedly that Lindy can help our team reach their goals.”

Ruff coached the New Jersey Devils the past four seasons, including a trip to the second round of the playoffs last year, before being fired in March. He was replaced by Travis Green, and the Devils still missed the playoffs.

“This is a team ready to take the next step,” Ruff said. “I am both humbled and honored to be trusted to help this team win now. It is not a job that I take lightly. ... There is no doubt that we all need to embrace the challenge ahead of us. The work starts today and I could not be more excited.”

Sabres players, including forward Alex Tuch, last week credited Granato for helping spur their development, but questioned his ability to hold them accountable. Buffalo (39-37-6) won three straight games just twice this season and crumbled in the wake of higher expectations set a year earlier when the Sabres missed the playoffs by just two points.

Tuch's eyes lit up when asked about the prospect of Buffalo hiring Ruff.

“He was my favorite coach,” said Tuch, who was a Sabres fan growing up in Syracuse, New York. “Lindy’s a great coach, a really smart guy. I’ve always been a huge fan of his. I’ve no idea. But that would be pretty cool, though.”

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin chuckled and said, “It sounds great,” when informed of Adams’ desire to hire an experienced coach.

“You can’t not play hard in this league. You cannot not play the right way,” Dahlin said. “So we need that. And I’m excited for it.”

Ruff guided the Sabres to the playoffs eight times, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1999, when the Sabres lost a six-game series to Dallas. The decisive game was decided on Brett Hull’s goal in triple overtime. It still is referred to as the “No goal” game in Buffalo because replays showed Hull’s left skate was in the crease, which should have disallowed it, given the rules at the time.

The Sabres also lost consecutive Eastern Conference final appearances in 2006 to Carolina and '07 to Ottawa.

Ruff went on to coach the Stars from 2013-17.

Buffalo’s 13-season playoff drought is tied with the NFL's New York Jets for the longest active streak in North America’s four major pro sports.

As a player, Ruff spent 10 seasons with the Sabres from 1979-89. After breaking into coaching as an assistant with Florida, Ruff was hired by the Sabres in 1997, replacing Ted Nolan.

Whyno reported from Washington.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

FILE - New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff, center, looks toward the ice during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 10, 2024. Ruff is returning to Buffalo for a second stint as coach of the Sabres. General manager Kevyn Adams announced the hiring Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)

FILE - New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff, center, looks toward the ice during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 10, 2024. Ruff is returning to Buffalo for a second stint as coach of the Sabres. General manager Kevyn Adams announced the hiring Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)

Next Article

Ranger Suárez improves to 9-0, Harper homers in Phillies' 5-2 win over Rangers

2024-05-22 09:27 Last Updated At:09:31

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ranger Suárez stuck out 10 over seven innings and improved to 9-0 to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to their MLB-best 35th win, a 5-2 victory over the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper hit his 11th homer of the season to help the Phillies win for the ninth time in 11 games and continue one of the best starts in franchise history.

This season, no pitcher in baseball has been better than Suárez.

The 28-year-old lefty walked off to a standing ovation in the seventh after he caught Leody Taveras looking on a 91.6 mph sinker to end the inning. Suárez took a no-decision in his first start of the season before he reeled of wins in nine straight starts.

José Alvarado worked a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.

Ranger bested the Rangers, and continued his reign as Philadelphia's top pitcher this season — no small feat for a rotation that already boasts Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Suárez walked two, gave up a run and lowered his ERA to 1.36 before he yielded to Jeff Hoffman in the eighth inning.

Corey Seager hit a solo shot off Hoffman in the eighth to make it 3-2.

Hoffman got only two outs before Matt Strahm retired Nathaniel Lowe on a sharp line drive to left field with two runners on to end the inning.

This three-game series comes oh-so-close to serving as a World Series rematch. The Rangers needed only five games to beat Arizona and win the franchise's first World Series — after Arizona won Games 6 and 7 in Philadelphia to rally and knock out the Phillies in the NL Championship Series.

Suárez fell into a rare early deficit after he gave up Marcus Semien's RBI single to left in the third.

The Phillies went ahead 2-1 off Jon Gray (2-2) on Kyle Schwarber's run-scoring single in the third and Alec Bohm's RBI single in the fourth. Harper connected off Rangers reliever Jacob Latz in the sixth for a 3-1 lead.

Bohm knocked in his NL-best 44th RBI on a double in the eighth and Bryson Stott followed with a sacrifice fly for a 5-2 lead.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner took batting practice as part of his recovery from a left hamstring injury. Turner was hitting .343 with two homers, 10 doubles, nine RBIs and 10 stolen bases before he was hurt earlier this month.

UP NEXT

The Phillies send RHP Taijuan Walker (3-0, 4.91 ERA) to the mound in the second game of a three-game series. The Rangers did not name a starter.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, center, reacts after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, center, reacts after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Texas Rangers left fielder Ezequiel Duran catches a fly out by Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Texas Rangers left fielder Ezequiel Duran catches a fly out by Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Alec Bohm hits a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Alec Bohm hits a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto, right, reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto, right, reacts after striking out against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Texas Rangers pitcher Jon Gray during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Brandon Marsh, left, is tagged out by Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after trying to score on a single by J.T. Realmuto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper watches after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper watches after hitting a home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, rounds the bases past Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Smith after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, rounds the bases past Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Smith after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, reacts past Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, right, reacts past Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim after hitting a home run against pitcher Jacob Latz during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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