Tag: milestone


Matt Duchene reflects on first hat trick: ‘Most fun I’ve had’

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It’s bittersweet when a personal triumph gets washed away by defeat.

Matt Duchene’s first career hat trick (plus an assist) surely lost some of its luster because the Colorado Avalanche dropped a 7-6 OT thriller to the Dallas Stars. Still, Duchene didn’t deliver team-first platitudes after a rousing four-point performance.

“It’s too bad we lost,” Duchene said. “[But] it was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had playing a hockey game in my life.”

In the span of one game, Duchene slammed the door shut on those who worried about a mini-slump in which he was briefly demoted to the fourth line. Those four points were impressive enough – seriously, watch that third goal and let your jaw hit the floor – but he was an electric force all night.

In addition to the plays that showed up on the box score, he also earned Colorado a power play on what was just short of a penalty shot opportunity and had at least two other chances that could have been goals. The dynamic scorer used his world-class speed and creativity to carve up anyone the Stars sent his way.

Duchene came into Dallas with six points and finished with 10. Perhaps it was just a hot night or maybe playing left wing will continue to open up room for him to work his one-on-all magic, but if Duchene keeps having this much fun, opposing teams are going to be quite miserable.

Lindy Ruff will coach in his 1,000th game tonight


When it comes to job stability for coaches in professional sports – perhaps especially hockey – cases like Lindy Ruff’s are rarer than a Derek Boogaard goal.

The scrappy coach will appear behind a bench for the 1,000th time tonight, all with the first team that hired him: the Buffalo Sabres.

Along with general manager Darcy Regier, Ruff fought through all kinds of changes, challenges and bumps in the road to accomplish something that few can even imagine in this current sports climate.

Want to get an idea of how rare it is? Here’s one number that’s pretty stunning: 155. That’s the number of coaching chances that took place since the Sabres hired Ruff after firing Ted Nolan.

If that’s not interesting enough for you, here are a few other illuminating facts about Ruff’s rare run that will give you some context on just how uncommon his tenure has been.

Ruff will become the 18th NHL coach to reach 1,000 games – to tie his former mentor, the late Roger Neilson – and join Al Arbour (1,500 with the Islanders) and Billy Reay (1,012 with Chicago) as the only ones to do it with one team.

“That’s a tribute to him, let me tell you,” Arbour said. “In some places, you lose a couple of games and they fire you. I mean, things are tough right now for Buffalo, but I know he’s going to get over it. You just hang in there.”

Ruff has endured three ownership changes, the franchise declaring bankruptcy in 2003, five seasons of missing the playoffs, as well as the highs and lows that came with four Eastern Conference finals appearances and Buffalo’s 1999 run to the Stanley Cup final. That championship run ended with Dallas winning on Brett Hull’s triple-overtime clincher in Game 6 – a goal still disputed in Buffalo because Hull’s skate was inside the crease.

As you probably know, this season might pose one of the greatest threats to the status of the league’s most tenured coach. The Sabres are tied for the second least points in the league (4-9-2 for 10 points) and the team is a pitiful 0-6-1 at home.

Yet, if any coach can survive this situation, it’s the resilient Ruff. Congrats to him on an outstanding milestone … one that might only be matched by one other active coach: Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators.