Lindy Ruff was convinced he would have a team to coach at some point this season, regularly making that point to fellow Sabres employees at First Niagara Center. And he never gave up hope as talks to end the lockout moved into their final week.
"I just thought it would be utter craziness if we didn't [play], that we couldn't come to some type of agreement," Ruff said today in a pre-camp briefing with reporters downtown.
Ruff said he got a text message at 6 a.m. Sunday telling him, "congrats, it's over."
His reaction? "Wait an hour to text me."
Ruff said he was excited that camp will likely be opening Sunday and that's he's already instructed defenseman Jordan Leopold and ex-enforcer Andrew Peters about some drills they can run while the players continue to skate in Amherst.
While he said offense may not be artificially inflated by more penalty calls, Ruff thinks it may happen naturally because of the players' long layoff.
"You could start off a lot more ragged with the number of players that haven't been playing, which could lead to goal scoring going up, lead to more penalties. You weigh that too."
The most intriguing part of camp will undoubtedly be the tryout of No. 1 draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko.
"I think everyone is intrigued. He's had an elite year at junior. He's got very good hands, is a very good playmaker. Now you take that to a level where you're going to play against even stronger competition, bigger 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 intrigued to see what he can do against and with top NHL players."
In other news:
---Ruff said he'd like to have the Sabres scrimmage the Rochester Amerks on an evening early next week.
---The top two lines will be Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville and Marcus Foligno-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford.
---Ryan Miller will likely start 36-38 games in goal.
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