The "Greatest Sabres" countdown continues with the greatest coach in Buffalo Sabres history—and no, Scotty Bowman doesn't count as his tenure only lasted a few seasons.
I'm talking, of course, about Lindy Ruff.
Ruff actually began his career as a player, playing for the Sabres for most of his career and serving as captain for almost three seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers. The Sabres obtained a draft pick that eventually became defenseman Richard Smehlik, who served under Ruff later on.
Ruff's tenure behind Buffalo's bench began in 1997-1998. He reached immediate success, leading the Sabres—who were basically Dominik Hasek and a bunch of scrubs—to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Washington Capitals.
The following season, Ruff helped lead the club to its second Stanley Cup Final appearance, though the club lost in six games to Brett Hull and the Dallas Stars.
The team hit a rough patch in the few years preceding the lockout, but came back and set the style of the "new" NHL following it and reached the Conference Finals the first two years back before missing the playoffs this past year.
Ruff is also known for his bluntness with the media. One such example stems from the comments he made regarding Toronto's Darcy Tucker. In a post-game interview following a questionable hit on Jochen Hecht that knocked him out two weeks with a sprained ACL, Ruff said, "I want him [Tucker] suspended. I have not called the NHL office all year and I will call them ten times tomorrow." He called Tucker's hit "a definition of a joke."
In April 2006, Ruff became the 31st coach to reach 300 career wins and just the 16th to do so with one team.
He also won the Jack Adams Award for the NHL's top coach in 2005-2006, earning a nomination again the following season but losing to Vancouver's Alaign Vigneault.
Lindy Ruff leaves his mark on Sabres history every season with his passion, intensity, work ethic and strive for a complete two-way game from all of his players. He is currently 23rd all-time in terms of wins and will only keep climbing that list as he gets the most out of every Sabres team he coaches.
Next up: Tis the season..