It’s been a newsy day in Buffalo as the Stars prepare to take on the Sabres tonight. Stars coach Lindy Ruff’s return to Buffalo, where he coached for 15 seasons, took a back seat to last night’s trade that saw the Sabres sent forward Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for forward Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015.
Still, Ruff’s return received a lot of attention. He had a lengthy session with the media following this morning’s skate. There were questions, of course, about his return to Buffalo.
“It was strange, coming in and walking to the other side,” Ruff said. “First guy you see is James the security guy, and I got a big hug from James. It was nice, but it was just an incredibly strange feeling. … A lot of good memories, a lot of good memories. You try to push that aside and play a game tonight.”
There were questions about the state of the Sabres, who have a lot of youth in the lineup and are off to a dismal 2-10-1 start this season.
“I understand what is happening,” Ruff said. “I’ve watched my share of games. I watch some of the young players play, and I understand where they are at. It’s tough to see where the team is at in the standings, but I watch how some of these players play and how some of the young players play, and I think there is a lot of promise there. It’s really tough, but I understand where they are at.”
Someone asked if he still rooted for the Sabres, a team he coached 15 seasons and played for 10 seasons before that.
“Not tonight I can’t,” Ruff quipped, drawing a lot of laughter. “I can root in between games and they’re in the East. I root for the city and I root for the team. I want to see them do well.”
And he was asked what he expected from fans in Buffalo tonight.
“I have nothing but good memories and I think it will be a warm reception,” he said. “We need to win a game. We’ve had our share of ups and downs this year, too, as a team.”
Ott ready to face Stars
The Stars will be facing former Star Steve Ott for the first time since he was traded to Buffalo in the summer of 2012. Ott, who was drafted by Dallas in 2000, played 11 seasons for the Stars.
It’s bittersweet, obviously, because I loved my time in Dallas because the organization was so great to my upbringing and my career,” Ott said. “I have some great friends over there, I have some friends for life over there and that’s more important than anything else.”
But those friendships go out the window when the puck drops, so expect Ott to be at his annoying best Monday night. He knows several of the Stars players well, so he should have some good material when it comes to chirping.
“I am going to be funny, maybe cross the line a little bit but I’ve got to make sure there are no microphones around,” Ott said.
“We all know Otter, we played with him for a long time and we know what to expect,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.
Stars projected lineup
It doesn’t look like there will be any lineup changes for the Stars. Ruff will go with the lines he used late in Saturday’s game, which include Erik Cole moving up to the top line.
Kari Lehtonen is in goal. Kevin Connauton and Travis Morin are expected to be the healthy scratches. Ryan Garbutt is serving the third game of his five game suspensions.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Erik Cole
Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Valeri Nichushkin – Shawn Horcoff – Rich Peverley
Lane MacDermid – Vernon Fiddler – Antoine Roussel
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley – Sergei Gonchar
Alex Goligoski – Jordie Benn
Kari Lehtonen (starter)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.