The Dallas Stars might be close to hiring Lindy Ruff as the team's coach.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Thursday that Stars president Jim Lites said during a luncheon for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce that barring any change in circumstances, the team would be hiring Ruff.
"It's [general manager] Jim Nill's play," the newspaper reported Lites saying. "He's done an exhaustive review of talking to several candidates, at least 10, about coaching the Stars. Lindy Ruff is in town meeting with Jim. I saw him as I was leaving the Stars Center. He's a guy I've known and always respected.
“We respect Lindy a lot. I think he would be a great fit for us. I don't think the deal is done, but it would be a good thing for the Dallas Stars if he is hired. I don't think there is anything standing in the way of it other than getting Jim and Lindy together on money."
However, Lites later Thursday told the Dallas Morning News no hiring was imminent.
The Stars have been looking for a coach since Glen Gulutzan was fired May 21.
Nill told NHL.com on June 12 he was hoping to have a coach in place prior to the 2013 NHL Draft, which will be held June 30 in Newark, N.J., but it wasn't imperative.
"I'd like to [have it done before the draft], but it's not a must," he said then. "Ideally you'd like to be able to go to the draft with your coach and he gets a chance to meet all the scouts and meet the players you're drafting. Then right after that, you have development camp and free agency. You like to have a coach in place for those situations, but I'm not going to rush and make a quick decision just because of those dates either."
Nill said he had narrowed the field of candidates but was going to take all the time he feels he needs before making his first major hire.
"It's a longer process than people think sometimes," he said. "It does take time, and my schedule has to fit with the person you're interviewing. It's a process. You want to do the right thing and kind of go from there."
Ruff compiled a record of 571-432-84, with 78 ties, in 15 seasons as coach of the Buffalo Sabres, a tenure that ended when he was fired Feb. 20.
He guided the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Playoffs eight times in 14 full seasons, including a trip to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final -- a series his Sabres lost to the Stars -- and back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Final in 2006 and 2007. He won the Jack Adams Award as the League's coach of the year in 2006.