Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier announced today that head coach Lindy Ruff has signed a one-year contract extension with the club. Ruff is now signed through the end of the 2006-07 NHL season.
Currently the longest tenured active head coach in the NHL, Ruff was hired as the 15th head coach in team history on July 21, 1997. Now in his ninth year with the Sabres, he has compiled a record of 256-244-78. He is ranked 10th among active coaches in wins, and 40th all-time in NHL career wins.
The 45-year-old Ruff became the Sabres' all-time win leader after recording a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 18, 2003. That win, his 211th, moved Ruff past Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman for the most coaching victories in Sabres' history.
Ruff recorded his 250th career win when the Sabres defeated Montreal on March 24, 2004. Buffalo's 37 regular season victories in 2003-04 also marked the sixth time in his first seven seasons behind the bench that the Sabres finished with at least 35 wins. The team also finished 10th in the NHL offensively, scoring 220 goals. This represents the highest goal output by a Ruff-coached team, and 30 more than the previous season.
Ruff has a .593 playoff winning percentage and is the Sabres' all-time leader in playoff games coached (54), and wins (32), surpassing Bowman's mark of 18 wins (set over five seasons). In only his second season as a head coach, Ruff led the 1998-99 Sabres to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 24 years. He also achieved a club record that season for the most wins (14) in one playoff year. In the process, Ruff became only the third head coach under the present Stanley Cup Playoff format to lead his team to the Conference Finals in each of his first two seasons.
Ruff was the Sabres' second-round (32nd overall) draft pick in 1979 following a distinguished career as a defenseman with Lethbridge (WHL). He made the team at his first training camp and playing in 63 games during the 1979-80 season and was named the team's rookie of the year. Ruff ranks sixth all-time on the Sabres' regular season list in penalty minutes (1,126) and is tied for 11th in games played (608). In 691 career games, he recorded 105 goals and 195 assists to go with 1,264 penalty minutes. He was named as the Sabres captain from 1987-89 following the retirement of Gilbert Perreault.
Ruff ended his playing career after serving as a player/assistant coach for the 1992-93 season with the San Diego Gulls of the IHL. Head Coach Roger Nielson (who coached Ruff in Buffalo and with the Rangers) tabbed Ruff as one of his assistants for the expansion Florida Panthers for the 1993-94 campaign. As the primary coach of the penalty-killing unit and defensemen, Ruff received many accolades for his work. In just their third season, the over-achieving and hard-working Panthers squad advanced to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.