On Monday, July 10, 2017, Lindy Ruff was officially hired as an Assistant Coach for the New York Rangers. He will coach under Head Coach Alain Vigneault, and also reunited with Scott Arniel, who was an Assistant Coach under Ruff for 4 years with the Buffalo Sabres. Ruff replaces Jeff Beukeboom, who will take on another role within the Rangers organization. Ruff is arguably the most accomplished Assistant Coach hire in Rangers history in regard to having previous head coaching experience. This is the first time they have hired an Assistant Coach with previous Head Coaching experience since hiring current Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan in 2009.
Lindy Ruff played for the Rangers for parts of 3 seasons of his 14-year playing career. He then began his coaching career as an Assistant Coach for the Florida Panthers for 4 seasons. During his tenure there as an Assistant, the Panthers made it to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Colorado Avalanche in 4 games. Ruff has been a Head Coach for the last 18 seasons in the NHL. He was the Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres from the ’97-’98 season through the 2012-2013 season, then the Dallas Stars from 2013 until this past season. His career record as a Head Coach is 736 Wins, 554 Losses, 78 Ties and 125 Overtime Losses in 1493 games. His greatest coaching accomplishment was leading the Eastern Conference Champion Buffalo Sabres to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, where they would lose to the Dallas Stars in 6 games. He also won the Jack Adams Award as the Coach of the Year in the 2005-2006 season. Finished second for the Jack Adams award in the 2006-2007, losing to then Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. Throughout his Head Coaching Career, he has also led his team to 4 Conference Finals appearances, 1 President’s Trophy, 3 Divison Titles and 10 playoff berths. His career playoff record is 66-54. Ruff also lead Team Canada to a Silver Medal in the 2009 IIHF World’s Championships and was an Associate Coach on the 2010 Gold Medal winning Canada team in the Olympics.
As a player, Ruff was known for his toughness, strong character and hard work on the ice. As a Coach, he is known for being a defensive coach with an aggressive, energetic, 2 way brand of hockey. His brash and straight forward demeanor helped his teams thrive mostly on the defensive side but also offensively. He relied on a strong defensive unit and goaltending getting to the SCFs in ’99 but also coached a Sabres team that leads the league in goals during the ’06-’07 season, and again with the Dallas Stars in the ’15-’16 season. He has done a little bit of everything in his 18-year coaching career both offensively and defensively in a League that has changed so much within those 18 years.
The New York Rangers have a revamped Defensive unit going into next season. As it stands right now, the Rangers will only have 2 defensive holdovers that were on the roster in Vigneault’s first season as HC in 2014 in Captain Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal. This offseason alone Rangers bought out the remaining years on Dan Girardi‘s contract and Kevin Klein retired. The Rangers added Kevin Shattenkirk through Free Agency, re-signed Brendan Smith (who they acquired at the Trade Deadline last season from the Detroit Red Wings) and acquired Anthony DeAngelo in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes. With Nick Holden acquired in a trade last offseason with the Colorado Avalanche and homegrown Brady Skjei playing his first full season last season, that is a complete makeover from even the Rangers last Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2015.
Ruff’s accomplished coaching experience will help the revamped Rangers Defensive Corp. The Nashville Predators had success becoming the Western Conference Champions this past season in large part from getting a tremendous amount of scoring from their defensive unit. Ruff’s aggressive, energetic, 2 way brand of hockey fits the mold of this current Rangers Defensive unit and the style of play the team is moving towards. They will look to push the tempo, improve their transition game and get goals from all areas of the offensive zone.
The past 2 defensive coaches in Ulf Samuelsson and Jeff Beukeboom weren’t as accomplished as coaches previously. With the blunt and demanding Ruff leading a revamped New York Rangers Defensive Corp, there should be an immediate improvement from the middle of the pack defensive rankings last season. The Rangers have become younger and faster over the course of the past 2 seasons. There is small speculation of Ruff’s hiring adding pressure to Vigneault’s Head Coaching position. As it stands right now, Vigneault’s offensive,mild-manneredd side of coaching compliments Ruff’s defensive, brash side perfectly.