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The Buffalo Sabres have elevated an ex-captain to be their coach for the third time in history.

Lindy Ruff formally was named the head coach of the team this morning. He replaces Ted Nolan, whose contract was not renewed late last month. Ruff -- who joins Floyd Smith and Jim Schoenfeld as Sabre captains who became coaches -- received a multiyear contract.

The 37-year-old, who first joined the Sabres as a player in 1979, replaced Gil Perreault as the team's captain in Nov. 1986. He held the post until shortly before the time he was traded to the New York Rangers in March 1989.

"Obviously I'm very excited about coming back to Buffalo, coming back to my home town," Ruff said at a news conference in Marine Midland Arena. "It's a city that I have a lot of great feelings about. The backbone of my career was here in Buffalo. The team reeks of what I think are important qualities -- it has character, displays hard work and plays with emotion.

"I'm looking forward to taking over and building on what was established last year. The precedent was set last year. Losing will not be accepted in this city. We're going to put something together very special here."

General manager Darcy Regier added, "Lindy is the type of person who exemplifies hard work, toughness and the tenacity to succeed. I am confident that the two of us will forge a strong working relationship."

There was no announcement about the hiring of assistant coaches. Ruff said that would be addressed in the near future.

"I've put a list of people together who I think would be very qualified," he said. "When I get it narrowed down, I'll sit down with Darcy and talk about the available people."

Ruff returns to the Sabres' organization after spending four seasons with the Florida Panthers as an assistant coach.

"Lindy did a very good job for us, and we will obviously miss him," said Bryan Murray, the Panthers' general manager. "He was a big part of our success of two years ago when we went to the Stanley Cup Finals. He is very deserving of this opportunity."

Today's announcement comes during a turbulent summer for the Sabres. It started only three days after the team was eliminated from the playoffs, when general manager John Muckler was dismissed. A month-long search ended with the hiring of Regier in early June.

Regier's first job was to find out whether he wanted Nolan to return as the Sabres' coach; Nolan's two-year contract expired on June 30. After a two-week investigation, Regier offered Nolan a one-year contract. That deal was rejected by Nolan, and Regier later told Nolan that the team would look in another direction as a coach.

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