RUFF EXCITED FOR OLYMPIC OPPORTUNITY
Wednesday, 09.09.2009 / 3:48 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
|(Photo: Freestyle Photography)|
It was there he was announced as one of three associate coaches for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and it was there he realized a personal goal in representing his country on home soil.
|Ruff Olympic Press Conference
|Ruff Named Associate Coach
Then Ruff arrived in Calgary for Hockey Canada’s summer camp in August, and found that it, still, was much bigger than even he imagined.
“We were going through the week practices and at the end had a scrimmage,” Ruff said. “And they sold out the scrimmage.
"I think that pretty well tells you how big it is in Canada. And it wasn’t free... They had a full house and people paid to come and watch the Canadian team. I know it’s big. The next time Canada has a chance to win Gold on its own soil is going to be a long time down the road.”
He is working with some big names to get there. Along with Ruff, Columbus’ Ken Hitchcock and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire are serving as assistants to Head Coach Mike Babcock. Ruff’s primary responsibility is splitting the special teams - overseeing the power play units while Lemaire supervises the penalty killing.
“We’re taking most of what Detroit does, or tries to do, from breakouts and their scheme on the power play,” Ruff said. “I’ll be the voice that represents it. I’ve got ideas that we’ve used with some of our power play formations and try to incorporate it, but we’re trying to keep it simple.”
|Lindy Ruff, Sidney Crosby (Getty Images)|
Simplifying is a strategy Ruff took out of his first international coaching experience in Zurich, Switzerland this summer when he led Canada’s World Championship Team to a silver medal.
Ruff found that keeping things relatively uncomplicated helped to combat both the wider ice surface, and even wider variety of tactics teams employed.
“Different countries play different,” Ruff said. “You had some countries that, because you are allowed to dress 22 players, played five-man units. They didn’t ever break up a unit that went on the ice, which is different. And some of those units played a 1-2-2, some played a 1-3-1, so it threw a little bit of wrinkle at you every game.
“But it was interesting… I had talked to the coaches that had coached previously and the Hockey Canada coaches that have been involved in years before. That was a big asset too going in.”
He hopes to take a few things out of the experience when it’s over.
“You come out with ideas on how you can adapt some of those situations into your game, your team. I really treated it as a coaching clinic where you are able to spend 10, 12 days in the summer with some guys that have had a lot of success in this League.
“It’s taking a little bit from everybody, putting a little bit in your pocket and coming away from it thinking, I’m better for being involved in it.”