DALLAS – Lindy Ruff had one stipulation when he agreed to meet with the Dallas Stars about their coaching vacancy.
“We can’t meet in the crease,” Ruff said about his joking conversation with new Stars general manager Jim Nill.
Ruff was hired Friday the new coach of the Stars, 14 years after Dallas clinched its only Stanley Cup championship on a goal he has always questioned – Brett Hull’s shot with his skate in the crease late in the third overtime of Game 6 that beat the Ruff-coached Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s a long time ago,” Ruff said after his introduction. “I’ve had some great memories. I’ve gotten past that. I’m a coach, I want to coach, and this is an unbelievable opportunity. … It all worked out great for Dallas.
“It didn’t work out so good for us back then. I can tell you one thing, that same emotion and same passion will be here in Dallas if the same type of thing happens or anything similar, because that’s the fire I have.”
The Stars, who have missed the playoffs the past five seasons, gave the 53-year-old Ruff a four-year contract. He is the 22nd coach in franchise history and seventh since the team moved to North Texas in 1993.
Before being fired by Buffalo in February, Ruff had been the Sabres coach for 15 seasons and was the NHL’s longest active-serving coach with one team.
The Sabres’ only Stanley Cup appearance under Ruff came in that 1999 final known for the “No Goal!” chant that Ruff joined thousands of Buffalo fans in after the series was over. They thought Hull’s skate was in the goalie’s crease before he had control of the puck and the goal shouldn’t have been allowed.
“The league said it was a goal. I just argued that it wasn’t,” Ruff said. “My first thing was asking whether this was being reviewed and couldn’t get an answer. … It’s all behind me.”
Ruff was the Sabres’ winningest coach (571-432-162), but was fired after a 6-10-1 in this year’s lockout-shortened season. There had been 170 NHL coaching changes between his hiring in July 1997 and the time he was fired.
Under Ruff, the Sabres made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons and eight times overall. They made the Eastern Conference finals in 2006 and 2007.
“When you coach for that number of years and in the same place, the exciting part for me is in talking to a lot of other coaches, from former coaches here to coaches that have gone from organization to organization, how it revitalized them, energized them,” Ruff said. “I’m excited about working with Jim and all his experiences that he had in Detroit. It was just a real good fit.”
Rangers sign Vigneault as coach
One week after Alain Vigneault emerged as the leading coaching candidate, the New York Rangers hired him Friday to replace the fired John Tortorella.
Vigneault agreed to a five-year contract. He was introduced during a news conference at Radio City Music Hall.
Vigneault was the choice of team president and general manager Glen Sather from a group that included former Rangers captain Mark Messier. Vigneault interviewed at the club’s organizational meetings in California last week and then met with owner James Dolan in New York.
Vigneault was dismissed as coach of the Vancouver Canucks on May 22 after seven years behind their bench.
Tortorella spent 4 1-2 seasons with the Rangers and was fired May 29, four days after New York was eliminated by Boston in the second round of the playoffs.
Coyotes, Tippett agree to deal
The Phoenix Coyotes have agreed to a long-term contract extension with coach Dave Tippett.
Tippett had reportedly wanted to wait to see what happens with the uncertain ownership situation before making a decision to stay with the Coyotes.
The Coyotes have gone 156-96-42 in Tippett’s four seasons with the team, despite the fact that the franchise was owned by the NHL and had strict financial restrictions during that time.
In 2011-12, the Coyotes went 42-27-13, won the franchise’s first division title and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in team history.