The Devils announced today that the interim tag has been removed from General Manager Tom Fitzgerald and that Lindy Ruff will be the club's new head coach. We'll have extensive coverage throughout the day on NewJerseyDevils.com but for now, here are three things you must know about Ruff, presented by Wawa.
1. THE EXPERIENCE
Experience is the name of the game when it comes to the hire of Lindy Ruff. In fact, there are only six coaches in the history of the league with more of it. Ruff ranks seventh all-time in regular-season games coached with 1,493.
Only Scotty Bowman (2,141), Joel Quenneville (1,705), Barry Trotz (1,674), Al Arbour (1,607), Paul Maurice (1,600) and Ken Hitchcock (1,598) have coached more regular-season games than Ruff. Only three active coaches top Ruff.
In addition to the regular-season experience, Ruff has coached in the 15th most playoff games in NHL history, just one behind current Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. Including Trotz, only three active head coaches in the league have been behind the bench for more postseason games than Ruff.
If longevity with one franchise is considered a metric for success, look at Ruff's tenure with the Buffalo organization. His head coaching career began with the Sabres and he stayed with that club for parts of 15 seasons, setting a franchise record for games coached (1,165) and wins (571).
2. THE WINS
Speaking of wins…
In addition to longevity as a coach in the NHL, Ruff has racked up the sixth-most wins in league history with 736. He also has the 15th most playoff victories of any coach in NHL history, just two behind Philadelphia's Alain Vigneault.
As the Buffalo's franchise leader in wins with 571, Ruff led the Sabres to some fantastic seasons. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in his first season and then went to the Stanley Cup Final in his second.
We did some digging into his career points percentage to see where it ranked in NHL history. Among all NHL coaches, no matter if they coached one game or 2,000, Ruff ranks 76th (.561). But looking at the list there is not much separating Ruff from coaches who are currently steering their teams to the playoffs.
Dave Tippett in Edmonton sits just .003 above Ruff at .564, while Trotz with the Islanders is .007 ahead of Ruff. Former Devils Head Coach and now Vegas bench boss Peter DeBoer trails Ruff with a career points percentage of .555. John Tortorella is at .553. And just for some more context with recent NHL coaches, Gerard Gallant is at .550.
Taking a look at his win-loss percentage in the postseason and Ruff sits in an even more favorable position. He's 32nd all-time at .550, which only sees two active coaches better (Craig Berube and Mike Sullivan). It's a log jam of great NHL coaches right behind him in this category. 33rd through 36th are Quenneville, Mike Babcock, Claude Julien, and DeBoer.
And here's a random fact that really doesn't mean anything but is interesting: The Devils franchise has only had one season with 50 or more wins. Ruff has had three at the helm. He had 52 with Buffalo in 2005-06, 53 in 2006-07, and 50 with Dallas in 2015-16.
3. THE HARDWARE
And finally, the tangible awards are always something to look at with coaching hires. Ruff stacks up decently there, being a finalist for the NHL Coach of the Year three times and winning it once in 2006.
He has also collected two Olympic Gold Medals as an Associate Coach for Team Canada. As their bench boss in 2008-09 at the World Championships, Ruff collected silver. He did that again as an assistant in 2018-19.
And while it's not a physical trophy, wearing the "C" in the NHL is a badge of honor and as a player he did that too for the Sabres from 1986-87 to 1988-89.