On Saturday, New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff won his 800th career game. And prior to the team’s next game on Monday, the 62-year-old bench boss took a moment to reflect.
Only four other head coaches in NHL history have won 800 career games. Scotty Bowman (1,244), Joel Quenneville (969), Barry Trotz (914), and Ken Hitchcock (849) are the others to win 800+ games in league history.
Interestingly, Ruff actually played for one of these other coaches. The Devils’ head coach played for Scotty Bowman when Bowman coached the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for all those names … a lot of great coaches,” Ruff said. “Obviously I played for Scotty Bowman and I have a lot of respect for him. I still communicate with him on occasion. The reason you get there is you’ve found a way to adapt through the years and get to that point.”
Bowman left the Sabres as the coach with the highest win rate in franchise history. Years later, Ruff would surpass his former coach during his own lengthy tenure as coach of the Sabres.
The 62-year-old Devils head coach noted a few differences between the beginning of his coaching career and how things are now. The biggest change is with the players and how you handle them.
“You have to be open to listening a lot more today than when I started coaching,” Ruff said. “I think players listen to you, but at the same time, they want you to listen to them when they’ve got a point to be made.”
Ruff has led the Devils to an insane start to the season. They are just coming off a 13-game winning streak that completely took the league by storm. The Devils currently top the Metropolitan Division with an 18-4-0 record.
It doesn’t seem as if the 62-year-old is interested in slowing down. He has coached since 1993, but he is still in love with the game of hockey.
“The interaction, the adrenaline, dealing with players … I enjoy it,” Ruff said. “I really enjoy the day to day, trying to get us to play better, trying to get players to keep improving our game while getting to know them better.”