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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt of Lindy Ruff's interview Friday afternoon as he addressed the media at HSBC Arena. The Buffalo Sabres Head Coach discussed the roster and upcoming season as the veterans get set to report to training camp Saturday.]

9/11- Lindy Ruff Interview
How was this week with the [rookies]?

It’s been good. I think we’ve tried to work on every aspect of the game. We’ve had a good practice and we’ve been getting quite a bit out of the scrimmages. It’s a little different approach but it gives you a real good handle on some of the things they can bring.

Why did you decide to [scrimmage] a little more in this camp?

It’s a better way to evaluate. Having the week to get the young guys up to speed with the system, we’re still going give them one practice with each team. The order is going to be a little bit different, but I think if you truly want to evaluate you get them in a game situation.

The theme last year was obviously a fast start, what’s the theme this year going in?

Well we got the fast start, now the theme has to be a fast finish. I thought we came out great. We obviously ran into a couple tough stretches that we didn’t get through, we ran into a couple tough injuries that we weren’t able to get through. Maybe [the theme is] to not get as high as the teams sometimes, but not get as low – try to find a happy medium in there and be able to ride it out for 82 games.

One of the main talks of the draft and summer camp was that you wanted more grit this season. Do you think the guys coming in have got that message?

We finished the end of the year with being grittier. Even in the last 10 games we played a grittier style and I think that it was more advantageous. We’ve added [Mike] Grier, we’ve added [Steve] Montador and I think those guys instantly add more grit, more size, more physical play, more energy overall. I think that takes us a little bit away from the skill part of it, but that’s kind of where the League is headed.

Where does a guy like [Cody] McCormick fit in? Is he a Portland depth guy, or is he a guy for up here [in the NHL]?

Right now we’re looking at depth obviously. There are spots open, he could surprise you. But I think when you look at it, you’re putting those guys in – a [Jeff] Cowan, a McCormick and guys like that – you’re looking at these players as good depth for the organization.

When you mention spots open, what parts are you really going to be looking at?

I think up front. Obviously with Adam Mair going down to start the season, you’re looking up front that there could be a possibility. On the back end we do have – with Nathan Paetsch –  seven defensemen, but we do have some interesting looks on the back end that we will certainly take a look at. 

If a veteran, or someone like Henrik [Tallinder,] doesn’t get back to where he was, is the message, ‘hey, we’ve got some guys pushing you and if you don’t [produce], you’re not going to be out there?’

I think you have to look at it. We’ve missed the playoffs two years in a row and I think if somebody takes your spot, they take your spot. I think you have to be ready to make room for them. At the same time, you don’t evaluate in one or two days. This camp process is a three-week process, with preseason games. it won’t be one game. Obviously we had some players that I thought, even you mention Henrik, I thought by the end of the year Henrik had picked up. we just need him to pick up from where he left off and be able to build off that.

To listen to Ruff's full interview, click here.
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