Fourteen years ago this week, Lindy Ruff yelled and screamed as the Dallas Stars grasped the Stanley Cup in front of him. In an interesting twist Thursday, Ruff shook hands with their owner and appeared ready to become their new coach.
Ruff met for a second time with Stars General Manager Jim Nill about the coaching vacancy in Texas, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted owner Jim Lites as saying a deal was close to completion.
“We respect Lindy a lot,” Lites said at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon, according to the newspaper. “I think he would be a great fit for us. I don’t think the deal is done, but it would be a good thing for the Dallas Stars if he is hired.
“I don’t think there is anything standing in the way of it other than getting Jim and Lindy together on money.”
Ruff has been away from coaching since the Sabres fired him in February. One of the most bitter defeats of his 16-year stay in Buffalo came in Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup finals. Brett Hull scored in triple-overtime with his skate in the goal crease, giving the Cup to the Stars and putting “No Goal” into Buffalo’s lexicon.
A bit of irony, eh?
“I think you can find some,” Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said. “If it works out that way and he’s happy, then I’m very happy for him.”
The Stars have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and decided not to retain coach Glen Gulutzan.
“Unless something falls completely apart, we’re going to hire Lindy Ruff,” Lites said, according to the Star-Telegram. “He’s a demanding coach, and I think that’s what we need. I think young players react well to structure and to discipline.
“The most success we’ve ever had here with the Dallas Stars is with Ken Hitchcock, and Ken was a very demanding coach. There’s young players that say, ‘I was at my best when I was playing for Ken Hitchcock.’”
In other NHL news, Danny Briere said goodbye to the Philadelphia Flyers, who are buying out the final two years of Briere’s contract, a move that will shave $6.5 million off their salary cap. Briere will become an unrestricted free agent as part of Philadelphia’s offseason shake-up.
“This is my home,” Briere said of South Jersey. “Wherever I’m going to end up, the kids are staying here and I’m coming back here.”
Briere left the Sabres to sign an eight-year, $52 million deal before the 2007-08 season, and played a key role in helping the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2010.
Regier was noncommittal on Briere’s upcoming release.
“I don’t think Danny is the same player he was when he was with us, but I still think he’s a very capable NHL player and won’t have any problem finding employment because he can still play and contribute,” he said. “He’s a very good player still.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.