Sabres give coach Ruff extension through '06-07
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Coach Lindy Ruff got a 1-year contract extension Tuesday from the Buffalo Sabres, off to a fine start after missing the playoffs three times in a row.
Ruff's contract is now through the 2006-07 season. The move comes after the Sabres improved to 3-1 following a 3-2 overtime victory against Pittsburgh on Monday.
Buffalo has won all three home games, the best start by the Sabres since they took five straight in Buffalo to open the 1984-85 season.
Ruff is in his eighth season with Buffalo and is the NHL's longest-serving coach with the same team.
"I'm very appreciative from ownership all the way down, the faith they've shown," Ruff said. "I really like what the team has done and I appreciate the message they've sent and what they've tried to do.
"But it's knowing that we have a job to do every day and this business is all about winning."
The extension was reached during training camp last month, but the team delayed the announcement at Ruff's request. Ruff said he didn't want his contract to become a distraction before the start of the season.
"I'm one of those guys that doesn't want to jinx anything, I don't want any distractions," Ruff said. "For me it's about the players."
The Sabres are 256-244-78 under Ruff, who in 2003 surpassed Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman to become Buffalo's winningest coach. Ruff also ranks 10th in wins among active coaches.
His best season came in 1998-99 when a gritty, young Sabres team reached the Stanley Cup finals, losing in six games to Dallas.
Ruff also holds the franchise mark for postseason wins with a 32-22 playoff record.
"Given this hockey club and the years and the growth, I think it's just great for the organization," general manager Darcy Regier said. "A big part of this decision revolves around things like building and growing together, continuity and stability."
The Sabres have stuck with Ruff despite missing the playoffs since the 2001 postseason. Not all of the problems have been of his making, particularly in 2002-03 when a patchwork roster muddled through a 27-45-10 season and the franchise declared bankruptcy when John Rigas was forced to relinquish his ownership.
Ruff retained his job after Rochester billionaire B. Thomas Golisano purchased the team in April 2003.
Ruff played 13 seasons in the NHL, 10 with Buffalo and the final three with the New York Rangers.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press