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Sabres retain coach Ruff for 1 more season

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres have picked up the one-year option on head coach Lindy Ruff's contract, which means he will be back for a 13th season.

In announcing the move on Thursday, Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn said the team is also prepared to negotiate a long-term extension with Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier.

Regier is under contract through next season.

"Any notion that they're not going to be part of the process of us getting there, let's dispel that now," Quinn said, referring to the Sabres' attempt to rebuild themselves into a contender. Quinn spoke during a wide-ranging end-of-season news conference three days after Buffalo was eliminated by Boston in Game 6 of their first-round series.

Ruff had no intention of going anywhere, and is looking forward to next season after helping the Sabres win the Northeast Division and make the playoffs for the first time in three years.

"The obvious disappointment is staring us right in the face, but I'm really excited about this group of players," Ruff said. "I can say this season was a tremendous step forward in the regular season. And it was a kick in the backside, and a step backward in the playoffs."

With a 483-389-122 record, Ruff is the Sabres' winningest coach, and ranks 17th on the NHL list after moving ahead of former mentor, the late Roger Neilson, this past season.

Hired prior to the 1997-98 season, Ruff is the NHL's active leader among coaches with the same team. Since he was hired, there have been 154 coaching changes in the NHL, including the New Jersey Devils, after coach Jacques Lemaire announced his retirement this week.

Regier said he intends to be active in free agency this offseason in a bid to improve a team that struggled on offense and with an inconsistent power play that went 0 for 19 against Boston.

"Yes, I think we need to make some changes," Regier said, adding he's already formulating an offseason plan.

That's regarded as a departure in philosophy for an executive who has expressed patience in building his team through the draft, and avoided making splashes in free agency.