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Former Sabre James Patrick gets head coaching job in juniors

With Lindy Ruff’s future unknown, it’s time for his top assistant to step out on his own. James Patrick is doing just that.

The Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League hired Patrick as its head coach Tuesday. Patrick has spent the past 11 seasons working alongside Ruff during the coach’s stops in Buffalo and Dallas.

“James Patrick is the perfect fit to lead our team,” said Matt Cockell, Kootenay’s president and general manager. “He has a tremendous amount of experience, understands what it takes to be a pro, develop as a pro and create a world-class player experience.”

Patrick played 21 seasons in the NHL, including his final six as a defenseman for the Sabres. After retiring, he joined Ruff’s staff in 2006-07. They spent seven seasons in Buffalo and the last four in Dallas. The Stars elected not to renew the contracts of Ruff and Patrick following the season.

“I look forward to getting started,” the 53-year-old said. “The future is bright."

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