The Dallas Stars are in the process of hiring Lindy Ruff as the team’s next head coach, Stars president Jim Lites said at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday at the Colonial Country Club.
“I tell you guys this. People and hockey fans have been asking me, ‘Who are you hiring as a coach?’” Lites told the audience. “As I was walking into the garage next to our building at Frisco, to drive here to speak to you, I passed our new head coach in the hallway and shook his hand. Unless something falls completely apart, we’re going to hire Lindy Ruff.”
Lites confirmed after the event that nothing has been finalized, but the hiring process was nearing an end.
“I think the process is getting toward the end and I think we’re going to have a great experienced coach if Lindy is the guy,” Lites said.
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“We respect Lindy a lot. I think he would be a great fit for us,” Lites said. “I don’t think the deal is done, but it would be a good thing for the Dallas Stars if he is hired. I don’t think there is anything standing in the way of it other than getting [general manager] Jim [Nill] and Lindy together on money.”
Lites was in Fort Worth as the guest speaker for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce sports series and to promote the Stars’ training camp, which will be held at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Sept. 11-14.
Ruff is legendary for his tenure as coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 1997 to 2013, placing him in select company of coaches who remained with a single team for an extended time in professional sports.
Whenever contract details are finalized, Ruff will join the team that beat him in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Dallas won on a controversial goal by Brett Hull in the third overtime of Game 6. Game 6 started 14 years ago on June 19 and finished after midnight.
Ruff won a Jack Adams Award, honoring the coach of the year in 2006.
The Stars have missed the playoffs the past five seasons.
“He’s a demanding coach and I think that’s what we need,” Lites said. “I think young players react well to structure and to discipline. Same is true with a lot of coaches. The most success we’ve ever had here with the Dallas Stars is with Ken Hitchcock and Ken was a very demanding coach. There’s young players that say I was at my best when I was playing for Ken Hitchcock.”
The Stars announced last month that coach Glen Gulutzan would not be retained.
“It’s Nill’s play,” Lites said. “He’s done an exhaustive review of talking to several candidates, at least 10, about coaching the Stars. Lindy Ruff is in town meeting with Jim. I saw him as I was leaving the StarCenter. He’s a guy I’ve known and always respected.”