Lindy Ruff. The perfect coach for the Dallas Stars, as of late. But is he ready to take on this year’s expectations? Or are his days in Dallas set to be short-lived?
Lindy Ruff was recruited to Big D by then-new GM Jim Nill in June 2013 after being fired by the suffering and struggling Buffalo Sabres. Ruff was given a young and somewhat inexperienced group of players in fancy, new bright green jerseys and was expected to make something out of them. If he could turn the rag tag group into contenders overnight, great! If he couldn’t, then Nill would be ready to continue the search for someone that would help straighten the Stars’ path.
Ruff waltzed in on a team that had just appointed the 24 year old Jamie Benn as their new captain, along with the only veteran presence being Ray Whitney and Sergei Gonchar, two players who proved that age truly MUST matter after their numbers from this past season. No one thought that Ruff would be able to succeed in the small window of time that he did, and most expected the Stars to be average PLAYOFF contenders in three-five years, let alone CUP contenders in two years!
So Ruff came in and fought off the nitty-gritty Central division, and helped the Stars along their regular season path, finishing out the year with a 40-31-11 record and 91 points. This was enough to bury the Stars six year postseason drought and gain them the final wild-card spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They fought hard but in the end were outdueled by the Anaheim Ducks. But this season was a MAJOR improvement and a grand sum of these enhancements can be attributed to the genius of Lindy Ruff.
So with last season in the bag as a success, Jim Nill decided to push the buck for the second offseason in a row and bring in one a top talent center in Jason Spezza. Spezza will nicely compliment the likes of young superstar Tyler Seguin, an acquirement of Nill in the 2013 offseason. Nill also contributed to his rapidly growing legacy by snagging a consistent, middle-aged winger in Ales Hemsky and solving the Dallas Stars’ long-lasting backup goalie dilemma by bringing in Anders Lindback.
With the surprisingly successful season the Stars finished with last year and the humongous additions recruited for the upcoming season, Stars fans and NHL fans in general will be expecting a lot from Big D next year.
So, the question has arisen, is Lindy Ruff on the hot seat?
There’s an argument for both sides. Jim Nill and Co. have definitely bred a championship mentality into the heart and soul of this team, and in a short duration of time, no less. The expectations are high and hopeful, but Ruff is a dedicated coach and leader. He showed true poise throughout the season, constantly making risky calls, all for the better of the team, and being engaged in the team’s actions on and off the ice. If he can prove to be half as good of a coach that he was last year, he should be able to turn this team into a true contender.
But Jim Nill has made it public that he is the best of friends with Ruff and that he overall trusts him entirely. I asked Mike Heika, who covers all things Dallas Stars for the Dallas Morning News, this question a few weeks ago, but sadly could not find the link for his answer. He basically said that considering their friendship and Nill’s trust factor, that there is no chance Ruff is anywhere near the hot seat, which I agree with entirely. There is no way that Nill is thinking about tossing Ruff for an updated model yet, and Ruff will make sure that he does his job in helping this franchise blossom.
Bottom line: Ruff is safe for the next few years, at least. The Stars basically have two positives, which when subjected to adding, multiplying, etc. still makes a positive! Nill supports Ruff and believes in him to make the right choices and push this team to their former status from 15 years ago, and Ruff knows how to coach a team with this arsenal to an elite status.
Ruff is here to stay, and Stars fans couldn’t hope for anything better.
Do you think that Nill has put Ruff on the hot seat?
Comments and questions below, and as always thanks for reading! Go Stars.
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