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NHL Insider

Ruff thanks players, Sabres organization in farewell

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 12:18 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

In his first public comments since being fired as coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, Lindy Ruff talked about how much the organization meant to him.

Ruff's firing ended a relationship that started when the Sabres selected him in the second round of the 1979 NHL Draft.

"I still have the invitation to training camp in a book," Ruff said.

Through 10 seasons as a Sabres player and 15 seasons as coach Ruff became a constant in Buffalo. But with the team struggling, the franchise dismissed the longest-tenured coach in the NHL on Wednesday.

Therrien's team-first message getting through to Habs

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 4:48 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- One of the biggest stories to come out of the Montreal Canadiens in the early part of this shortened season had to do with the way the team celebrated victories, which appeared somewhat comical at the time because this was a team coming off a season where victories were few and far between.

Shortly after restricted free agent P.K. Subban signed a two-year contract with the club on Jan. 28, news emerged that Canadiens coach Michel Therrien had banned the young defenseman's "triple low five" victory celebration with goaltender Carey Price, causing a serious social media backlash from Canadiens fans and around the NHL.

"I always like teams that are humble," Therrien said at the time. "It's a team concept and it starts with that."

Blackhawks want to keep focus on just playing well

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 4:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have thought about setting a new mark for consecutive games to start a season with at least a point, but only because they're constantly asked about it now.

If the Blackhawks (13-0-3) can earn at least a point on Friday night at United Center against the San Jose Sharks (8-4-3) -- a team they've already beaten twice -- Chicago will break the current tie at 16 straight games with the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

"We're not really downplaying it," Chicago star forward Patrick Sharp said after Thursday's practice. "It's just not an issue in here. It's pretty cool to be that close to an NHL record and we might talk about it [Friday] before the game, but we're just more focused on playing good."

Rolston's task to 'jump-start' Sabres into contention

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 3:33 PM / NHL Insider

Neil Acharya - Correspondent

Ron Rolston makes his NHL coaching debut Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he has a tough task ahead of him.

Not only is he charged with turning around the Buffalo Sabres, he has to get through to a team that is currently in a state of shock.

"My job is to jump-start this team and do it in any way we can," Rolston said after hitting the ice with the Sabres for the first time since being hired as their coach Wednesday.

Not only does Rolston have to deal with a team that's reeling emotionally, but he also sees a team that hasn't been willing to work as hard as it must in order to win games.

"From what I saw, it was more of a lot of shortcuts," Rolston said. "Lot of rest in shifts. The things you just have to eliminate if you're going to be a good hockey team. Most importantly, it's just getting back to that, it's getting back to work, getting back to eliminating shortcuts from your game because there's not a lot of time."

Rolston getting test, but Sabres could look elsewhere

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 8:04 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Ron Rolston will get at least 31 games to prove that he should be the next full-time coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Several other potential candidates will be watching.

Rolston, 46, got the call-up from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (Buffalo's top minor-league affiliate) on Wednesday to become the interim replacement for longtime Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. He'll have his hands full with a team that is currently at least seven points behind every other team in the Northeast Division and sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres are coming off a dismal 2-1 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets, one that general manager Darcy Regier called "the tipping point" in the decision to fire Ruff.

Meanwhile, Rolston is leaving a team behind in Rochester that is seventh in the AHL's Western Conference with a 27-18-3 record. He guided the Americans to a playoff berth following a 36-26-14 season as a rookie coach in the AHL last season.

Ron Rolston earns chance at NHL coaching job

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 7:59 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston meets his new players Thursday, he'll see a familiar face in forward Nathan Gerbe. And when he looks out at the ice from behind the bench at Air Canada Centre on Thursday night, he'll see another familiar face in Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel.

Those are just two of the numerous American players Rolston played a role in developing during his time as a coach with the United States National Team Development Program.

Rolston spent seven seasons as a coach with the USNTDP, alternating years with the program's under-17 and under-18 teams.

Ruff spent successful quarter-century with Sabres

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 7:44 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

For the first time since the end of the 1996-97 season, someone other than Lindy Ruff will be coaching the Buffalo Sabres when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and a fixture in Buffalo for 25 years as a player and bench boss, was fired Wednesday, one day after a 2-1 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets dropped the Sabres to 6-10-1, leaving them 13th in the Eastern Conference and in danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season.

Ruff's 15 seasons in Buffalo yielded a trip to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, a Presidents' Trophy in 2006-07, and back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and '07.

With a 571-432-162 record, Ruff was the winningest coach in franchise history; only Al Arbour, who won 740 games with the New York Islanders, has more NHL victories with one team. takes a closer look at Ruff's time in Buffalo as a player and coach:

Aug. 9, 1979 -- The Buffalo Sabres choose Ruff, a highly regarded defenseman with the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League, in the second round (No. 32) of the NHL Draft.

Rivalry Night doubleheader gets numerical look

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

What could be better than a Philadelphia-Pittsburgh game on Wednesday Night Rivalry presented by Coors Light? How about a second game -- one between a pair of Western Conference rivals.

That's the case this week, with the Flyers visiting Pittsburgh and the St. Louis Blues in Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche. Both games can be seen on the NBC Sports Network in the United States and TSN2 in Canada.

The Flyers and Penguins have been battling for bragging rights in Pennsylvania since they entered the NHL in 1967. The Flyers ended Pittsburgh's season last spring by eliminating the Penguins in six games; Pittsburgh got a measure of revenge on opening day by beating the Flyers 3-1 in Philadelphia.

Blues battle travel delay before facing Sharks

Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 6:14 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- It was supposed to be the end of a successful three-game trip for the St. Louis Blues.

The trip ended with a 4-3 shootout win at the Vancouver Canucks, and they were supposed to board a plane home, with an estimated arrival of 4 p.m. local time Monday.

That didn't quite go according to plan, however.

Instead, the Blues didn't leave Vancouver until after midnight Pacific Standard Time, and finally landed in St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. CT on Tuesday. The 14-hour delay was because of mechanical issues with their charter plane. So rather than get a day's rest then take the ice for the morning skate ahead of a game Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), the Blues were at home ... and in bed.

Blues right wing Chris Stewart, asked if he experienced anything quite like this, wasted little time thinking about an answer.

"No," he said. "That's as close to the American [Hockey] League travel you're going to get there as far as rest.

Goaltending, scoring could have Leafs in contention

Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 1:05 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

With only one-third of the Toronto Maple Leafs' season in the books, it's still too early to start making plans for playoff hockey at Air Canada Centre.

The discussion phase, however, has begun as the Maple Leafs appear to be charting a course to the postseason, which would be their first participation in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in nine years.

Toronto has won six of its past seven games to become one of five teams in the NHL with at least 10 wins so far this season. The Maple Leafs' 20 points put them in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Northeast Division, heading into their game Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

This isn't the first time these Maple Leafs have started a season well. Toronto was 10-5-1 after 16 games last season, but there were obvious flaws and eventually they were exposed as non-playoff contenders.

Maybe these aren't the same ol' Leafs anymore. Here are five reasons why:

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Quote of the Day

Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed. Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this. Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Monday dropped Columbus to 0-3-0
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