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Ruff the heir apparent for Rangers as Vigneault's seat keeps getting hotter

The New York Rangers have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL thus far, with a 3-7-2 record that's exactly the same as the Sabres. The Blueshirts are coming off three straight 100-point seasons under Alain Vigneault, and those followed his 96-point campaign in 2013-14 that led to the Rangers getting all the way to the Stanley Cup final before they lost to Los Angeles.

But Vigneault's hot seat is growing white-hot, with Larry Brooks of the New York Post reporting he could be gone if the Rangers lose to the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. And who would the Rangers replace Vigneault with?

The likely candidate, at least on an interim basis, is Lindy Ruff.

That could make for a juicy scenario of Ruff coaching against his old team in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 in Citi Field, when the Sabres take on the New York Rangers outdoors in the home of the New York Mets. Ruff, of course, coached Buffalo in the first Winter Classic in 2008 when the Sabres lost to Pittsburgh in a shootout at then-Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Rangers were particularly putrid in Saturday's 5-4 loss in Montreal. They trailed, 3-0,  and were getting outshot, 19-2, after the first period of that game. They are 28th in the NHL in goals against (43) and are 0-3 on the road,  joining Arizona as the only teams to not win a game away from home. Vigneault's contract runs through 2019-20 at a reported $4 million per season.

Ruff's contract was not renewed after last season, his fourth at the helm of the Dallas Stars. He joined the Rangers as an assistant coach over the summer, his first gig as a second-in-command since he was with the Florida Panthers in 1996-97.

The Sabres hired Ruff as their head coach following that season and he stayed until he was fired here in February 2013. Ruff is the Sabres' all-time victory leader at 571 and his career total of 736 wins has him fifth on the all-time list. Ruff has coached 1,493 games and that figure ranks fourth. The only active coach ahead of him is Chicago's Joel Quenneville (1,551).

Inside the NHL: That Rangers-Sabres Winter Classic looking like a real dud so far

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