It’s safe to say that Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is going to have plenty of familiar help on the bench this season. While Ruff already has former Sabres defenseman James Patrick and NHL veteran Kevyn Adams as assistants, he’s getting another former Sabres defenseman and Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets) legend to help out as well.
The Sabres hired Teppo Numminen to join Ruff’s staff as an assistant coach and help educate the Sabres defensemen on the ways of playing things a bit smoother on defense. Numminen was a slick-skating Finnish defenseman who could defend as well as help set things up offensively with assists and scoring goals as well.
As John Vogl of Sabres Edge shares, Numminen’s role with the Sabres is going to be to bring a particular worldly view to the Sabres blue liners.
During games, Numminen will be in the press box with a headset talking to his fellow assistants stationed on the bench.
“He’s going to give us a little bit of a European flair,” Ruff said. “He was a consultant at the world championships for the Finns, who won last year. He’s going to be a good addition.”
That European flair Ruff is talking about means playing solid at both ends of the ice while keeping a finer eye on the details. If you’ve ever watched Team Finland play in the Olympics or the World Championships, you’ve got an idea as to what that means. If you haven’t, it means that they play a very focused and intense brand of hockey and while they’re defensively responsible, they’re not afraid to take an educated gamble offensively.
For Sabres defensemen Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff, that sort of education could be invaluable to them. While Myers is a decent defender, Ehrhoff has had his moments while with the Sharks and Canucks that were hide-your-eyes bad when trying to defend opponents. If Numminen can help tweak Ehrhoff’s game to make him a better defender, the Sabres will be much better off for it. Ehrhoff’s offensive game is already very good, as is Myers’, but keeping them involved offensively while tightening up their defensive game are the sorts of things that can help the Sabres become stronger contenders in the Eastern Conference. Learning from Numminen’s example would help both of them have long, fruitful careers.