Sabres bring back Lindy Ruff as head coach

Lindy Ruff, the winningest coach in Buffalo Sabres history, is returning to his former post.

The Sabres announced Monday they have hired Ruff, who led the team from 1997 through early 2012, to serve a second stint in the position.

The Sabres needed to replace Don Granato, whom they fired last week at the end of another unsuccessful season. Buffalo missed the playoffs for the 13th straight year, matching the NFL’s New York Jets for the longest active playoff droughts in the big four North American leagues.

Ruff — the fifth-winningest coach in NHL history at 864 wins — was available after the New Jersey Devils dismissed him on March 4.

The Devils made the playoffs in 2022-23, Ruff’s third season on the job, but they took a step backward this past season. Ruff finished 128-125-28 as New Jersey’s bench boss.

In 14-plus seasons with Buffalo, though, Ruff took the Sabres to the postseason eight times, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1999 where they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games. Ruff’s Sabres teams went 571-432-78 before he was dismissed early in the 2012-13 campaign. He would later coach the Stars for four seasons.

“This is a team ready to take the next step,” Ruff said in a statement. “I am both humbled and honored to be trusted to help this team win now. It is not a job that I take lightly. It is my goal to ensure that players believe in each other, play for each other and love being a Buffalo Sabre. There is no doubt that we all need to embrace the challenge ahead of us. The work starts today and I could not be more excited.”

“As I went through the hiring process, it quickly became clear Lindy was the person for the job,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. “He has experience, a proven track record, familiarity with young players and so much more. I want to be clear, though, that this hire was not made with nostalgia in mind. Lindy is the right person for the job now and any history with our organization and community is simply an added bonus.”