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Ruff in line for shot at Olympics Hockey Canada mulls coaches for 2010

Lindy Ruff's resume is impressive. More than 400 victories. Four conference finals appearances. One trip to the Stanley Cup. A Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year.

His reputation around the league is solid. What's missing, however, is international acclaim. There's a chance that could be coming.

Hockey Canada put together its management team for the 2010 Olympics over the weekend, and its next step is selecting a coaching staff. Though that likely won't happen until summer, several reports say Ruff is on a short list to be behind the bench.

"It'd be just a terrific honor," Ruff said this weekend. "It's a great event, and it'd be great to be part of something of that magnitude.

"I'd like to be involved in any capacity. It's not something I've thought a lot about, but when asked, it'd be a great honor."

The early favorite to be named head coach is Detroit's Mike Babcock. He is coming off a Cup championship, and he has friends on the inside. Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman was named executive director of the Olympic team, and Detroit Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland is an associate director, along with Edmonton's Kevin Lowe and St. Louis' Doug Armstrong.

But Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier thinks his coach would be an excellent pick, too.

"If he were fortunate enough to be selected, it would be a great choice for Hockey Canada," Regier said. "I think he's very deserving of it. I think he'd be a real asset."

Ruff's main drawback is his lack of experience on the international stage. He's rarely been available for the world championships because the Sabres have made the playoffs six times in his 10 seasons. Plus, Hockey Canada is like almost any other organization: It's tough for outsiders to get in.

"A lot of times they don't bring people in cold," Regier said. "They bring in people that have a history of having worked at some level with Hockey Canada."

Sabres center Derek Roy has represented Canada in several tournaments at the junior and professional levels. He says Ruff would fit in.

"You've got to get players together in a short amount of time, a lot of team-building stuff, a lot of getting to know the players, getting to know the guys, and coaches do some one-on-one stuff with the players and try to get to know the player a little bit," Roy said. "You've got to be a friendly guy, and I think Lindy fits in that category."

Coaching an Olympic team is different from coaching a regular squad mainly because of the time frame involved. Players are together for only a few weeks rather than years. As Roy said, you need a coach who can rally people quickly.

But Regier feels the coach also has to have the patience to deal with the hype leading up to the event. He thinks Ruff has that.

"He'd bring the patience for a longer-term thing," Regier said. "There are a lot of coaches that bring -- hyper is too strong a word -- high-energy, you know, and I think one of Lindy's strengths is the work ethic he puts in and the patience with which he will stay the course with an objective in place."

For now, Ruff's objective is simple.

"We've got to get through this year first," he said.

It continues Tuesday night when the Sabres host Boston in HSBC Arena.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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