Former New Jersey Devils Head Coach Finds His New (Old) Job

Former New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff is reportedly in talks to take over the Buffalo Sabres who fired Don Granato last week.
NHL Winter Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres
NHL Winter Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres / Dave Sandford/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils needed a change on the bench after a tumultuous and disappointing season. Lindy Ruff wasn't hitting the right buttons, and Tom Fitzgerald begrudgingly made the decision to move on to Travis Green as his interim head coach on March 4th. It was too little, too late, and the Devils actually played worse under Green.

Now, Ruff is a coaching free agent, looking at his next job as possibly his last. It sounds like his last job could look a whole lot like his first head coaching gig.

Ruff was the head coach of the Sabres for more than 15 years. He was there for the amazing Dominik Hasek years. He coached up the teams led by Danny Briere, Chris Drury, and Ryan Miller years. Ruff was a steady coach for a long time in Buffalo, and now he's going back.

Many Devils fans will likely give a side eye to this hire after how bad this season went, but Ruff has to be given credit for the development of some on this roster. Defensively, the Sabres now have three superstar prospects in Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, and Bo Byrum. His system might be exactly what they need to succeed at the highest level.

Ruff also contributed to the development of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Dawson Mercer. That will translate to the likes of Jack Quinn, Peyton Krebs, and Tage Thompson. The Sabres need development from these amazing talents, and Ruff has done that in New Jersey, Dallas, and even Buffalo during his first stint.

We're not sure what the Ruff contract looked like in New Jersey, but this could really help the Devils bottom line. If his contract had "offsetting language" (which most contracts have), then the Sabres salary to Ruff will replace the money the Devils owe Ruff.

It was time for the Devils to find a head coach who could take them to the next level, but as the Sabres figure out how to get the best out of their young guys, this might be a good fire for them over the long haul. He's 64 years old, so another 15-year stint isn't in the cards, but if he can create a winner and transition the coaching ranks to someone like current Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert, it would be a positive all around.