The Dallas Stars have officially announced that former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is now going to man the Stars' bench.
Ruff has been an NHL coach since 1993, but he is only 53 years old. He began his career as an assistant with the Florida Panthers, where he would eventually lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Colorado Avalanche. Ruff moved to Buffalo in July of 1997.
From 1997 until the 2013 season, Ruff served as the head coach of the Sabres. He made the Stanley Cup Finals once in 1999, when the Sabres lost to the Stars in six games on Brett Hull's overtime game-winning goal. In 2005, he would win the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL.
Ruff has a reputation as a defense-first coach. He picked this reputation up from his early time in Buffalo, when he inherited a defensive-minded team led by Dominik Hasek and Michael Peca. As the years went on, the Sabres became more offensive-minded as they developed more offensive talent.
On the surface, it appears that Ruff has shown the ability to work with the talent given to him.
This Stars team is built similarly to Ruff's most recent Sabres team.
They have strong goaltending, a diverse collection of offensive forwards, and a collection of useful defensemen. The Stars roster is going to undergo some changes very soon, and the changes are probably similar to what the Sabres underwent last year as they targeted centers Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Zemgus Girgensons.
The biggest challenge facing Ruff is giving the Stars an identity. He needs to define what Dallas Stars hockey is going to be about for the foreseeable future, and get his players to buy in quickly.
In the recent past, the Stars have appeared to be pulling in all directions. If Ruff is able to put his vision in place, the Stars can feel confident that they are on the right track back to success.