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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres
Lindy Ruff spoke to more than 30 candidates in his search for an Assistant Coach. Whether it was unemployed head coaches or a current assistant looking to change his address, Ruff talked to them all. But in the end, Ruff had to look no further than his own staff. Kevyn Adams was introduced to the media today as Ruff’s new assistant, and the head coach said it came down to one simple intangible. 

“I talked to a lot of people. I covered a broad scope of coaches that were looking for jobs,” explained Ruff, the NHL’s longest tenured head coach. “I think what Kevyn had that trumped everything is his great relationship with our players. He’s eager, he’s anxious and he’s got some great ideas. He’s worked hard at the position he was at. He’s won a Stanley Cup, and he knows what it takes to win. I like that enthusiasm.”

Adams joined the Sabres’ coaching staff in 2009 as a Player Development Coach. His primary duties during the past two seasons have been working with players on their individual skills through on-ice drills and off-ice video sessions.

“He’s spent hours with the players, and developed great relationships with them,” explained Ruff. “I think the communication part with the players is vital. Kevyn has built a great rapport with the players and I think the players have a lot of respect for him. He knows what he’s teaching. And I don’t think you can teach the experience of winning a Cup, of what it takes and how hard of work it is.”

A native of Clarence, NY, Adams is thrilled about having the opportunity to further his coaching career with his hometown team. Adams even mentioned how his father reminisced with him yesterday about the two of them sitting with in the last row of the orange seats at The Aud while he was growing up. Not having played with the Sabres during his 10-year NHL career, Adams relishes the chance to finally be part of the team’s success.

“The one thing that I have is there was a passion in me from the time I was four or five years old being a Sabres fan. Then you lose that when you playing because all you want to do is win, wherever you are. When Darcy and Lindy called me a couple of years ago and this first opportunity came, I was so eager to get started and so excited about it, and it’s built from there. This next step is something I can’t wait to wrap my arms around and go after.”

Adams collected 136 points (59+77) in 540 career games with Toronto, Columbus, Florida, Carolina, Phoenix and Chicago. During the 2005-06 season, Adams set a career high in goals (15) and was named an assistant captain while playing a key role in leading the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Adams, 36, will move behind the bench to replace Associate Coach Brian McCutcheon, whose contract wasn’t renewed by the team in June. Ruff has a number of roles in mind for Adams, but first and foremost he wants him to continue his work with the team’s younger players, something he began to develop throughout his playing career.

“One of the fortunate parts of getting traded as many times as I did when I played was that I played for a lot of different coaches and assistant coaches. You pick little parts of that as you go along, you file it away, and it molds to where I am today. One of things I realized as a player was how important the communication is with a coaching staff. The ability to have someone to talk to that, where you’re not always going to like what you hear, but you know you’re going to get honesty from. I knew as a player how important that was, and that’s something I’ve tried to do here.”

Nathan Gerbe is one player that has reaped immediate rewards from Adams’ tutelage. Gerbe scored a career-high 16 goals last season, and even credited Adams with encouraging him to make plays like the highlight reel spin-o-rama backhand goal he scored at home against Philadelphia on April 8. For Adams, it was just a continuation of working with younger players later in his playing career like Eric Staal, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Kane.

“I was so happy for Nathan. For no other reason than his work ethic, his continued drive to be the best player. That’s part of the process in the coaching role where you take a lot of pride in seeing someone succeed. And it still continues. You have to keep getting better in this league or someone will pass you by and that’s been my message to Nathan this summer.”

Rather than divide the workload among his coaching staff, Ruff believes that Buffalo’s special teams success will derive from working as a collective unit.

“Kevyn is going to work with the forwards, and be involved in the special teams, and continue the development work with the players. I’ve got some different thoughts on our special teams, and I’d like to utilize all three coaches. I think that’s how you develop,” Ruff explains. “Kevyn may be a voice in one or the other, and I’ve talked to him about it. I don’t think solely do I want either coach just to run either (the power play or penalty kill).

Ruff also addressed the departure of McCutcheon, after working alongside him for the past 11 seasons.

"I have a ton of respect for Brian and the amount of work that he put in,” said Ruff. “I just felt it was time to create some freshness in the staff; get younger. The work that Kevyn can do, even the on-ice work is something that I felt was real important for us.”

Ruff may not be done with adding coaches to the Sabres staff. He’d like to fill the development coach void left by Adams, and wouldn’t rule out adding another assistant to the mix.

“I’m still in the process of evaluating. There are teams that have gone to three assistant coaches. I’m going to weigh that still, and see where it all falls out by the time camp starts.”
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