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Five questions: Ruff Enjoying Start with Stars

by Dan Rosen / Dallas Stars's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" is back for the 2013-14 season. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them poignant questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the state of their teams.

The latest edition features Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff:

Lindy Ruff can look around his office and see scarce reminders of his nearly 16 years in Buffalo. There are some old books he read, a few notepads with practice drills scribbled in them, but that's about it.

Ruff has moved on from the Sabres and he's embracing his new challenge in Dallas. He's working closely with first-year general manager Jim Nill, who spent the previous 19 years with the Detroit Red Wings. Together they're trying to rebuild the Stars into Stanley Cup contenders.

Dallas is off to a 1-1-0 start and has until Friday before it plays its next game. Ruff spoke to about his new gig and some of his new players this week.

Here are Five Questions With … Lindy Ruff.

Is it weird for you to be coaching a different team?

"It was originally. Through camp and the first couple of preseason games it was, but now it just seems normal. I think just to get through those first few games, that was the part that just didn't seem real, but now it is and it just seems normal. You get so immersed now in watching and pre-scouting games and your own players that I don't think there is enough time to sit around and think about where I was a year ago."

You and Jim Nill are basically molding a new team there in Dallas with a lot of new players, players that have come from inside Dallas' system or from other franchises. What attracts you to this kind of opportunity, to almost put together a team from scratch?

"Well, first of all I find it real exciting because now I'm sharing thoughts with a guy who has come through a very successful organization that knows the type of players he feels we need to win and how we're going to get to where we want to get. We were both deep rooted in two teams and now we're both starting all over. That part has been exciting. Being around a whole management team that you haven't been around ever, it's exciting."

The Philadelphia Flyers fired Peter Laviolette on Monday, three games into the season. Does it put a coach on notice when another coach gets fired three games into the season?

"It gets everybody's attention, there's no doubt. I think it's just another indication of the amount of pressure in the game. Really the pressure to win is always there and it usually falls on somebody's shoulders."

Alex Chiasson has eight goals in nine career NHL games, including two this season. What have you seen from him so far that lends you to believe he can continue, maybe not on this pace, but certainly on a good goal-scoring pace?

"It's his ability, one of those gifts of knowing where to be, and he can find the open ice in the offensive zone. And he usually doesn't need a lot of chances to put it away. He just has a nose for being in the right place.

"If you could teach that you'd have 18 guys doing it, or at least your 12 forwards would all be doing it. There wouldn't be teams that would be sitting around with two or three goals right now if it was that easy to teach. He's in the category of some of the special players. You don't know if he can keep it up, but when he gets that one or two chances it goes in. It just seems that he's got a knack for it.

"I've been around guys like that. A guy like Dave Andreychuk -- you know, big man, great hands, always in front of the net and always found a way to put it in."

Is there a player on your team that has caught your eye in a surprising way? Maybe someone who has made you think there is more to this player than I originally thought?

"The guy that really had a good preseason and maybe had a tough first game was Cody Eakin. He really played well through the preseason and played well last game [against Washington]. He didn't have much on the score sheet but really played a sound game. He's got ability to defend, ability to play against the big guys, and a pretty good offensive touch around the net. He's playing in that No. 2 [center] hole for us and he's playing with Chiasson and [Ray] Whitney. Every team is always looking for that secondary scoring, and he could really give us a good second-line punch."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | Senior Writer

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