Ruff not returning as Stars coach after missing playoffs

Ruff not returning as Stars coach after missing playoffs

DALLAS — Lindy Ruff will not return as coach of the Dallas Stars after the team went from the Western Conference’s top seed last year to missing the playoffs this season.

General manager Jim Nill announced the move Sunday, a day after the Stars finished with their second-fewest points in a full season since moving to Dallas in 1993-94. Ruff didn’t have a contract beyond this season.

In a statement, Nill thanked Ruff “for his commitment and professionalism over the four years that he served as our head coach in Dallas.”

The Stars finished 34-37-11 this season, 11th in the Western Conference with 79 points.

Ruff was the first significant hire for Nill after he took over following the 2012-13 season. Nill had decided not to renew the third-year option for coach Glen Gulutzan.

At the time, the Stars had the longest post-season drought in the history of the franchise that started as the Minnesota North Stars from 1967-93. They had missed the playoffs five straight seasons, and were coming off a last-place finish in the Pacific Division during a lockout-shortened season.

Dallas was 40-31-11 in its first season under Ruff, and lost its first-round playoff series in six games to Anaheim. After missing the playoffs in 2014-15 even when winning one more game (41-31-10), the Stars won 50 games and had 109 points for the top seed in 2015-16. They prevailed in a six-game, first-round playoff series against Minnesota before losing in seven games to St. Louis.

Injuries were an issue early this season for Dallas, a popular preseason pick to challenge for a Stanley Cup title. But once the Stars were healthy at the beginning of February, they lost seven times in regulation in a span of eight games.

Defenceman John Klingberg, a budding star his first two seasons, became an illustration of the struggles of a young group at the blue line. Even Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn didn’t look much like the elite scorers they’ve been in the past.

“We could never get on a good run where you go six or seven and one, or you win five in a row. We never got that good run going,” Ruff said after Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win against Colorado. “I said yesterday that the probably the biggest disappointment was there were games we really deserved to win if we finished some of the plays, didn’t hit posts and missed empty nets to stay on a run or keep something alive. We didn’t quite have the finish we had in the previous year.”

Ruff was fired by Buffalo in February 2013, early in his 15th season with the Sabres, a time that put him on the opposite side of Dallas’ only Stanley Cup championship.

The Stars won the title on a goal Ruff had always questioned. Brett Hull’s game-winning shot came with his skate in the crease late in the third overtime of Game 6 to beat the Ruff-coached Sabres.

Ruff was the Sabres’ winningest coach (571-432-162), but was fired after a 6-10-1 start. There had been 170 NHL coaching changes between his hiring in July 1997 and the time he was fired.

This time, Ruff had been with the Stars longer than 25 other NHL coaches with their current teams.

___

More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Food truck options to expand in Salmon Arm

City council votes in new food truck regulations

UPDATE: Highway reopened following fatal crash south of Armstrong

Highway 97A crash south of Pleasant Valley cross road near Spallumcheen claims a life

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan kicks off

Fifty restaurants in the region will participate in this year’s event

Salmon Arm council approves rainbow crosswalk

Location near Blackburn Park chosen

Wray service set for Saturday

A celebration of life for Vipers owner Duncan Wray will be held Saturday, 3 p.m., at Kal Tire Place.

Your Jan. 17 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

Star gazing: The wonders of Saturn

Ken Tapping is an astronomer with the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Penticton

Bank of Canada hikes interest rate to 1.25%, cites strong economic data

The rate increase is expected to prompt Canada’s large banks to raise their prime lending rates

Police suffer fractured leg, sprained fingers after violent Vancouver confrontation

A Penticton man faces assault charges following the incident

Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by Canadian immigrant

“This is a good example, I think, that will be helpful to change views about immigration. And maybe for Mr. Trump himself to consider immigrants as contributors to advancing science, advancing our societies.”

Rival Koreas agree to form first unified Olympic team

The rival Koreas took major steps toward reducing their bitter animosity

Canada, U.S. lead call for sanctions against North Korea

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting in Vancouver to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announces engagement

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh engaged to clothing designer Gurkiran Kaur

Hijab-cutting case highlights ethical issues with putting kids in spotlight

A Toronto police investigation has concluded a girl’s hijab was not cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school

Most Read