CHICAGO – It sounds like the Sabres will see a familiar face on the opposing bench when they meet the New York Rangers in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 in Citi Field.
Veteran writer Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the Rangers are closing in on a deal to have former Sabres and Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff join Alain Vigneault's staff as an assistant coach in charge of the Blueshirts defense.
Ruff, 59, has not been an NHL assistant since helping Florida to the Stanley Cup final in 1996 and working with the Panthers again in 1997. He left that summer to replace Ted Nolan with the Sabres and directed Buffalo to four Eastern Conference finals and one Cup final before he was fired in February, 2013.
Ruff then coached Dallas for four seasons but was fired again after last season. The Stars careeneed from the top of the Western Conference standings in 2015-16 to out of the playoffs this spring after brutal goaltending and injuries derailed the season.
Rangers GM Jeff Gorton acknowledged Saturday that assistant Jeff Beukeboom is not being retained on the bench but said no decisions had been made about additions to the staff.
Ruff is fifth on the NHL's all-time list with 736 victories, leading the Sabres in their history with 571 and adding 165 more in Dallas. He's fourth in games coached at 1,493.
Ruff, a former Sabres captain, completed his NHL career over parts of three seasons with the Rangers from 1989-1991. Former teammate Jim Schoenfeld, also a former Buffalo captain, is a senior vice president and assistant general manager for the Rangers.
Chris Drury, Ruff's co-captain on Buffalo's 2006 and 2007 Eastern Conference finalists, is also an assistant GM for the Rangers. The Rangers declined a request by Buffalo to interview Drury for the general manager's job that went to Jason Botterill.