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Sabres hire Lindy Ruff as coach. He guided Buffalo to the playoffs in 2011

Lindy Ruff is returning to Buffalo for a second stint as coach of the Sabres.

General manager Kevyn Adams announced the hiring Monday. Adams had strongly hinted at bringing Ruff back into the fold when talking about hiring a coach with significant NHL experience.

Ruff coached the Sabres from 1997-2013 and was the last person to guide them to the playoffs. Buffalo fired Don Granato after missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season with him in charge.

“As I went through the hiring process, it quickly became clear Lindy was the person for the job,” Adams said. “He has experience, a proven track record, familiarity with young players and so much more. I want to be clear, though, that this hire was not made with nostalgia in mind. Lindy is the right person for the job now, and any history with our organization and community is simply an added bonus. I believe wholeheartedly that Lindy can help our team reach their goals.”

Ruff coached the New Jersey Devils the past four seasons, including a trip to the second round of the playoffs last year, before being fired in March. He was replaced by Travis Green, and the Devils still missed the playoffs.

During his time in Buffalo, Ruff guided the team to the playoffs eight times, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1999, when the Sabres lost a six-game series to Dallas. The decisive game was decided on Brett Hull’s goal scored in triple overtime. It still is referred to as the “No goal” game in Buffalo because replays showed Hull’s left skate was in the crease, which should have disallowed it, given the rules at the time.

Ruff went on to coach the Stars from 2013-17.

Buffalo’s 13-season playoff drought is the longest in the league.

“This is a team ready to take the next step,” Ruff said. “I am both humbled and honored to be trusted to help this team win now. It is not a job that I take lightly. … There is no doubt that we all need to embrace the challenge ahead of us. The work starts today and I could not be more excited.”

Ruff was fired by the Sabres a month into the lockout-shortened 2013 season and replaced by minor league coach Ron Rolston. Buffalo has since gone through five more coaches — Ted Nolan, Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley, Ralph Krueger and Granato. Adams has a connection to Ruff as he was an assistant on his staff in Buffalo in 2011 and fired after the ’13 season.

As a player, Ruff spent 10 seasons with the Sabres from 1979-89 and had a stint as their captain.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

John Wawrow And Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press