I remember it like it was, well around a year ago.
I had a notification on my phone that says, “Stars officially hire Lindy Ruff as new head coach”. Wow. I honestly couldn’t believe it.
I mean, here we are with a new GM who hasn’t made any notably good decisions, besides firing Glen Gulutzan. And here he is hiring a washed up, sorry and neglected ex-coach who was recently fired from his job as the head coach of the WORST team in the NHL. Why he would be hired to coach a team with the right amount of talent to get in the postseason but one that needed a good coach to lead them there was WAY beyond me. Lindy Ruff, a guy who never amounted to anything fantastic, especially not a Stanley Cup championship, is now gonna “coach” my favorite team, a team that I want to see get back to the playoffs before I head off to college. I mean, why this guy?
Boy, I could not have been more wrong.
So, Lindy Ruff starts his season with the Dallas Stars. He begins it with a loss to the unknown and poor Florida Panthers. Now, since Ruff was hired, many people’s (including Stars fans) ideas went something like this:
“Haha, are the Stars SERIOUS? They think that this old guy is gonna lead them anywhere except down the tubes to the bottom of the standings? Ha, this MUST be a joke, the guy is worthless.”
The loss to Florida further cemented these ideas in the prosecutor’s heads. And then Lindy Ruff pulls out a squeaker over the Caps. Big friggin whoop. But Lindy Ruff never gave up. He persevered through all the neglect and hate and mockery and found out how to get himself back to the playoffs.
Throughout the season, people began to accept him more and more with each passing game. This was a guy who was truly headstrong and dedicated to his career and the team that truly crushed his dreams just 15 years before in swiping the Stanley Cup away from he and his former squad.
Lindy Ruff finished his first season with the Dallas Stars with an impressive 40-31-11 record. Now, not only were people expecting this rusty, old band of misfits and younglings to miss out on the postseason and possibly place last in the division, but with this wacko of a guy leading the charge behind the bench? Preposterous and absurd, not to mention impossible. Or was it? The Stars ended up qualifying for the playoffs in Game 81 of the regular season and shocked the world by doing so. The Stars did something that no one ever expected them to do with the group they currently had; make the postseason.
Although the Stars Cup hopes were short-lived and altogether jumbled, they proved to the NHL that they were a force to be reckoned with and everyone made sure to take note. And Lindy Ruff was a key to the success. Ruff proved that he was a dedicated coach with a dream and that he was going to fight hard for that dream. Ruff constantly made the moves he thought were necessary, even if they were absurd in everyone else’s eyes, such as moving Nichushkin to the top line, or sitting veterans like Cole and Whitney during the postseason. These moves paid off in the fullest and no one could doubt Ruff nowadays. I’m sure if he traded Benn and Seguin for a 6th round draft pick, we’d all accept that it was the best thing for the team (okay maybe not THAT far). But from constantly being on the ice during practice to interact and help out the guys, to fighting the referees for the simplest of calls, he truly proved himself to be the perfect fit for the Dallas Stars organization.
And the Stars couldn’t of picked a more perfect guy. His love for the team and the players truly showed throughout the year. His choices were risky in my eyes but always paid off in the long run, to name one, how about in January when instead of practice he called a meeting after the team’s 1-8-1 start to the month? After this crazy idea, the Stars proceeded to outplay the opponent in every game for the rest of the month and win 3 straight immediately following the meeting.
I remember watching the Stars’ video on Jim Nill’s choosing of Lindy Ruff at intermissions in the games throughout the season, and I always remember this one quote that he said:
“I kept scanning the list of possible candidates, and Lindy’s name kept coming up as the only right choice.”
Well, Jim, you couldn’t of chosen a better human being to man the bench for this young and upcoming team largely due to Lindy Ruff’s presence.
Lindy Ruff is Dallas’ future, and Dallas is Lindy Ruff’s new home, preferably for a long time. I’ll be entirely honest and I know I’m not the only one, I doubted Lindy Ruff 100% coming into this season. But does that face above look like a face of a loser? I don’t think so, and I know that the Stars are in the best hands in the years to come. If the Stars are gonna win the Cup, Lindy Ruff is going to be the one to carry them the extra mile.
Lindy, out of all the offseason acquisitions last year, you were the most valuable. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for next season. Thanks again for a great and unexpected year! You truly are “The Hero of the Dallas Stars”.
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