Buffalo Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn announced today that the Sabres have agreed to terms on multi-year contracts with General Manager Darcy Regier and Head Coach Lindy Ruff.
"On behalf of Tom Golisano and the organization, I want to say that we're very thrilled to be able to reach this agreement," said Quinn. "Both guys really represent the franchise in every way, and we're very excited about what the future brings. We consider them to be major assets to the organization."
Both Regier and Ruff joined the Sabres organization in 1997, and currently make up the longest tenured head coach/GM duo in the NHL. Among the four major professional team sports, they trail only Bobby Cox/John Schuerholz (Atlanta Braves, 1990) and Tony LaRussa/Walt Jocketty (St. Louis Cardinals, 1995) in terms of combined longevity.
Buffalo won a franchise-best 53 games this past season to win their first ever Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the NHL team with the best overall regular season record. The Sabres led the NHL with 308 goals scored in 2006-07, and made their second consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Considered by many as a pioneer of the new NHL, Regier has molded the Sabres into one of the most exciting and competitive teams in professional hockey. Regier has developed a mix of young talent and skilled veterans to combine for the ultimate "team first" model. Regier and his hockey operations staff put a strong emphasis on player development, beginning with their minor league affiliate in Rochester (AHL). This development plan paid off last season, as 22 of the 33 players who dressed for Buffalo were Sabres draft choices who had spent time in Rochester.
"I'm very excited to continue the work here," said Regier. "I think that where we left off this past season, and what we have to look forward to, is both exciting and incomplete. It's an opportunity to continue down that road, and I think that it's every bit important to continue it with the people that you developed everything with."
In addition to being the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL, Ruff is the winningest coach in Sabres history. In his nine seasons behind the Sabres bench, Ruff has compiled a regular season record of 358-289-71. He is ranked eighth among active coaches in wins, 11th all-time for coaching wins with one franchise, and 30th all-time in NHL history. Ruff is a finalist to win his second consecutive Jack Adams Trophy tonight as the NHL’s Coach of the Year.
"I think that the relationship and the people here in the organization is something that’s important to me," said Ruff about his decision to return. "The relationship that Darcy and I have, and the fact that where we've come from and where we got this team to.
"We obviously went through some real tough times. We've got the team to a level of play that is very exciting. Obviously you're disappointed with the way we finished this year. It leaves a scar but I really feel that this franchise has a tremendous future. I have one goal and that's to just win the cup, and I feel my best chance is here."
Ruff also has a franchise-best postseason record of 52-36. In only his second season as a head coach, Ruff led the 1999 Sabres to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 24 years. The Sabres have been the Eastern Conference Finals in four of Ruff’s nine seasons. Ruff was the Sabres' second-round (32nd overall) draft pick in 1979. 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.