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Ruff excited about return to bench with Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars on Friday named Lindy Ruff the 22nd coach in franchise history during a press conference at American Airlines Center.

Ruff, 53, had coached the Buffalo Sabres since 1997 before being fired March 20. In 15 seasons with Buffalo, he became the franchise's all-time leader in wins with 571, a total that ranks No. 12 in NHL history. He led Buffalo to eight appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, three trips to the Eastern Conference Final, and a trip to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, where his Sabres lost to the Stars.

He comes to an organization that went 64-57-9 during two seasons under Glen Gulutzan, who was fired May 21.

Dallas has not been in the playoffs since 2008, when the Stars fell in six games to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Final.

Stars general manager Jim Nill had listed the qualities he and the organization sought in its next coach and said Ruff, the 2006 Jack Adams Award winner, fit the bill on every front.

"[Those attributes are] experience, credibility, stability, great knowledge of the game, a person that's been in different situations, the highs and lows, and a good family person on and off the ice," Nill said.

Nill has been on the job in Dallas since April 29, and as he and other members of the organization began compiling a list of candidates to replace Gulutzan, Ruff's name emerged on top.

"I know him well," Nill said. "I played junior against him. I've seen him coach. He's been successful. In the end, it kept coming back to him. In the end, it was just a no-brainer."

After thanking Nill and Stars owner Tom Gaglardi (who was not at the press conference) for what he termed "an unbelievable opportunity" to coach in Dallas, Ruff discussed what kind of opportunity awaits him.

"I'm really excited and really looking forward to helping this club with their resurgence," Ruff said. "I think we've got a good, young team -- a good, talented, young team -- that I am really looking forward to working with and helping them get back in the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup."

Asked what style of play Dallas fans can expect to see from the Stars this season, he mentioned how his Sabres teams had run the gamut from great defensive-minded squads to some of the top offensive teams in the League. But above all, he said what he believes defined him during his long tenure in Buffalo was adaptability.

"I think some of it is based a little bit on personnel," he said. "Probably the one thing is trying to set the bar high enough and hold the players accountable to get them to a certain place where you can have success. The type of style that we've played has always been, it's been a real hard, up-tempo game. There's a lot of energy inside of it."

One reason the Stars missed the playoffs in each of two seasons under Gulutzan was because of a lack of discipline, something which manifested itself in a high number of penalties, especially ones coming at inopportune points in the game.

However, Nill said he sees the discipline Ruff has been known for throughout his time in Buffalo as being exactly what the Stars require.

"We need that. We have a young team here. They just want direction and he's a direction guy," Nill said. "He's all business. He'll have fun. He's got a great sense of humor. He's not the loud guy at the party, but he's the guy that's pulling the little pranks here and there. He's got a great sense of humor. The players are going to see that, but they're also going to respect him. That discipline is going to be there."

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