BUFFALO – In his first meeting with local reporters since July, Lindy Ruff couldn’t wipe the smile off his face during a 20-minute chat this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. Clearly, the Sabres coach can’t wait for the season to start.
Ruff thanked the fans for their support before fielding questions about the upcoming season and how he spent his time during the NHL lockout.
Here are some quick highlights:
On if the season would even take place:
“I kept saying we would be playing. I just thought it would be utter craziness if we didn’t, that we couldn’t come to some type of agreement, and I really believed that.”
On how he found out the lockout had ended Sunday morning:
“My phone had gone off while I was sleeping. It was one of these, somebody had texted me at 6 a.m., ‘Congrats, it’s over.’ And (you think), ‘Wait an hour to text me.’”
On how he’ll treat the shortened 48-game schedule:
“I’m not going to treat it any different than really a normal schedule.
On slick first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko, the 18-year-old Russian center who will be attending training camp:
“I think everyone is intrigued. Obviously, he’s had an elite year in junior. He’s got … very good hands, he’s a very good playmaker. He had a real good tournament at the world juniors. Now you take that to a level where you’re going to play against even better competition, stronger bodies, guys that are heavier on the puck that compete at a stronger level.
“I think he’ll be able to make plays. I’m very intrigued to see what he can do against and with top NHL players.”
On If T.J. Brennan, who must clear waivers, can crack the Sabres’ defense corps:
“If he’s ahead of maybe some guys that haven’t been playing … we’re in the business of winning games, he’ll play.”
On talking to 6-foot-8 tough guy John Scott:
“I got sore neck from talking to Scott.”
Ruff also said he wants starting goalie Ryan Miller to play 36 to 38 games and he’d like to keep the potent late-season trio of Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford together. Cody Hodgson, meanwhile, should keep centering Thomas Vanek.
The veteran coach spent much of his time during the lockout watching the Rochester Americans and his son’s games.
Check back later for more!