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Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff has settled on the first of two assistants and will name Mike Ramsey to his staff, The Buffalo News has learned.

Ramsey, a close friend of Ruff when the two played here through much of the 1980s, is expected to arrive in Buffalo Saturday to close the deal.

Ramsey and Ruff entered the NHL together in 1979 as the Nos. 1 and 2 picks respectively. A member of the 1980 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic hockey team, Ramsey played 17 NHL seasons (nearly 14 with the Sabres) and in his prime was considered one of the premier defensive defensemen the NHL has ever known.

He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1992-93 season and later was traded to the Detroit Red Wings were he finished his career under Scott Bowman, the man who originally drafted him.

Despite that long career, Ramsey never won a Stanley Cup. He went to Pittsburgh just after their run of two straight and retired from the Wings before they won it this season. Ramsey might have won the Cup this past season had he not cut short his comeback attempt. At Bowman's urging he had a two-week midseason tryout with the 1996-97 Wings but opted not to sign a contract. Bowman said at the time he would have kept Ramsey on the roster had he decided to stay.

Ramsey played in four NHL All-Star games (1982, 1983,1985, 1986) and the legendary Rendez-vous '87, a two-game series with the Soviet National team that replaced the All-Star game that season.

He was traded to Pittsburgh during the 1992-93 season for the rights to free agent Bob Errey, whom the Sabres later declined to re-sign. Ramsey was twice the Sabres MVP in a vote by the Sabres and three times led the team in plus-minus, once with a career high plus-31. Ramsey also played in the famed Canada Cup series, in 1984 and again in 1987.

The Sabres are known to be interviewing other candidates. Among the names on their list are former head coaches Bob Berry, Bob Murdoch and Terry O'Reilly.

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