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Was it only 15 years ago that Rick Dudley and his sweatband patrolled the Auditorium ice? His intensity still soars, this former Sabre turned coach. Through the years he has worked in the minors as league president, owner, general manager, coach. Now he's in his second year as Sabres coach.

Would you have liked to coach yourself as a player?

I would have loved it. I was an easy player to coach. All I had to offer was a lot of hard work. I was not real talented, but I was very motivated.

What did you want to be when you were a little kid?

It ranged. My entire family were teachers: mother, father, uncles, brothers. I don't think I ever wanted to be a teacher. Sports is my life, basically.

You envisioned yourself as a professional athlete.

At 17, I played professional lacrosse. At the same age I was invited to a pro football camp in Canada. I was scouted by professional baseball scouts. I was a pretty good athlete. Other than teaching, I never thought about much else. Maybe being a gold broker, I don't know.

You sold vitamins, didn't you?

I had a health food store and restaurant. Yeah, I marketed my own vitamins. I didn't get rich or anything, but I didn't do it for that reason. At that point in time, I thought I could help people become better people. I took them, and I felt great; still do.

Doesn't your body hurt a lot?

Sure does. Three knee operations, seven broken fingers, seven broken toes, two broken noses. But I feel better than I have in a long time. I can run seven miles a day. I'll be 42 in a couple of months.

What was it like turning 40?

Nowhere near as tough as 30. At 30, I was in the National Hockey League playing. And I came to the realization, when you turn 30, you're too old. My life was hockey, and all of a sudden I knew it was coming to an end.

Did you think about going back to school?

Many times, including today. I'd like to learn a couple more languages. I'd like to learn German, and at this point in time I wouldn't mind learning Russian.

Did being tough come naturally to you?

It came natural. Because my brother was four years older than me and I had to play tough or I didn't survive.

Do you cry?

At sad movies, not over hockey.

Do you read a lot?

I read a lot of hockey theory and I read a lot of psychology, the newspaper. I'm into the Middle East situation, for instance. I never missed a word that was printed on Watergate.

You get home from work. Do you turn on ESPN?

No, I'll turn on "Perry Mason." I watch it every day, from 12 to 1, the day of the game. I like "Murder, She Wrote." I like "Nightline." I've got a satellite dish at home. My wife watches more hockey than I do, about three games a night.

What do you do for fun?

Lots of things. My wife and I like to play games -- trivia. My wife's the all-time game player. She's got Nintendo, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune. And we have fun. We have some land in Ontario that we're going to build a house on in the very near future; a cottage, actually. I'm not a very exciting person.

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