Lindy Ruff has had enough of the press box. The Sabres' coach has decided it's time to return to the bench.
Ruff, still nursing three broken ribs, will nonetheless be rinkside tonight when the Sabres host New Jersey in First Niagara Center. Ruff has spent the past three games upstairs in the coaching booth, but that's not the life for him.
"I wasn’t exactly enjoying myself upstairs, I can tell you that," Ruff said after today's morning skate. "You miss the intensity of the game. Sitting up there is fine, but there’s a lot of things you miss out on and you don’t get a real good feel. I’m excited to get back."
The coach is still moving slowly, so he'll wear protection on his midsection. He'll also keep assistant coaches James Patrick and Teppo Numminen near him on the bench.
"It is a flak jacket-type of design that will protect me if I do get hit," Ruff said. "I’m going to have to be careful. I won’t be jumping up on top of the bench. I’ve got to stay away from some quick movements. Even yelling, I’ve had some issues when I’ve even tried to cough. The tough part is maybe just to stay calm when otherwise you’d get pretty excited."
The most excited player in Buffalo's dressing room was likely Marc-Andre Gragnani. The defenseman, who has been a healthy scratch since the last meeting with the Devils seven games ago, is expected to play in place of Christian Ehrhoff.
Ehrhoff missed today's session because of illness and is visiting with doctors.
"It’s been hard for me," said Gragnani, who has a goal and 11 assists in 43 games. "I’ve worked hard and tried to stay positive, especially in front of the guys. You don’t want to be that guy that brings everyone down, so I try to bring a smile every day to the rink. I think that’s what I did. I’m pretty excited to be back."
Gragnani will return to his spot on the top power-play unit.
"He understands that some of the battle wasn’t there when he was playing," Ruff said. "We feel that with a bigger effort he can easily fill in and be a reliable defenseman for us."