TAMPA -- The Dallas Stars made it official Sunday, letting go of coach Lindy Ruff in an expected move after a disappointing season that saw them slide from the top of the Western Conference to out of the playoffs. Ruff's four-year deal expired after the season and the Stars have opted not to renew it after finishing sixth in the Central this year at 34-37-11 for just 79 points.
Ruff went 165-122-41 in his four seasons with the Stars. He got them to the playoffs twice, losing to Anaheim in six games in 2014 and dropping a second-round matchup in seven games to St. Louis last season.
The Stars won the Central with 109 points last year, but fell apart this year due to injuries and porous goaltending from tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. They combined for an NHL-worst .893 save percentage and 3.15 goals-against average that ranks 29th.
"I want to personally thank Lindy for his commitment and professionalism over the four years that he served as our head coach in Dallas," general manager Jim Nill said in a team release. "Lindy is not only a highly respected coach, he more importantly is a great person and an outstanding family man whom I have the utmost respect for on and off the ice."
Ruff was fired by the Sabres in February, 2013, during his 16th season at the Buffalo helm. He led Buffalo to four Eastern Conference finals and the 1999 Stanley Cup final, and is the franchise's all-time leader in victories with 571. His 736 wins overall rank fifth on the all-time list.
Ruff was an assistant on the Florida team that went to the '96 Cup final and could be a candidate to replace Tom Rowe with the Panthers. Or he could be a candidate for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Social media is already abuzz for reunion with the Sabres if Dan Bylsma is let go, much like Claude Julien (Montreal) and Randy Carlyle (Anaheim) have had this year. And Ken Hitchcock, who beat Ruff in that '99 final, is rumored to be a prime target to return to Dallas.
Bylsma's status remains uncertain as the Sabres head into their offseason.