Jon Cooper spent three seasons in the AHL. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Yzerman insists Ruff wasn’t on Lightning’s radar

Sure enough, former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was immediately linked to the first opening since his Feb. 20 dismissal, the Tampa Bay Lightning job.

Ultimately, general manager Steve Yzerman promoted Jon Cooper from the Lightning’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse today to replace Guy Boucher.

But how much did Yzerman, who hired Ruff as an assistant coach as GM of Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic entry, pursue him?

“To be perfectly honest with you, I called Lindy yesterday to let him know what I was doing,” Yzerman told reporters this morning in Tampa Bay. “I had made my mind up when I decided to make the coaching change … that we were going with Jon Cooper.”

Did they talk?

“No, I just informed him,” Yzerman said. “I thought it was important out of respect to Lindy that I had made my decision previous to letting Guy go that was the direction I was going.”

Yzerman wouldn’t directly answer a question if Ruff had contacted the Lightning.

“I called Lindy yesterday to let him know what I was doing,” he said.

The Sabres play the Lightning tonight.

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