Life after Vanek: Ruff returns to Buffalo, Ott named full-time captain

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Monday night at the First Niagara Center promises to be one filled with emotion.

Sabres fans will get their first look at Matt Moulson — or, depending how you look at it, their first look at a Thomas Vanek-less team — and welcome back the winningest coach in franchise history.

Oh yeah, they’ll also have a new full-time captain.

Those are the three major storylines as the Stars take on the Sabres tonight… so let’s begin with Lindy Ruff, as he faces the club he led to 571 wins over the span of 16 seasons.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it,” Ruff told the Buffalo News over the weekend. “It’s going to be great to walk into the building and say hello to old faces. It really is. I’ve got a lot of old friends there, a lot of good memories. We had a lot of great hockey in there.

“It’ll be a good day. I want to see our team play really well, and it’ll be a good day.”

Ruff did say, however, his primary focus for tonight’s game is getting the Stars to play better on the road. Dallas is just 1-4-0 away from American Airlines this year, with its lone win coming back on Oct. 11 in Winnipeg.

Now, onto Ott.

Earlier this year, the Sabres made waves with the unorthodox announcement they’d be rolling with co-captains this season — Vanek and Ott — with Vanek serving at home and Ott on the road.

(Buffalo’s former captain, Jason Pominville, described the split as “weird.”)

With Vanek now on Long Island the full-time duties fall to Ott, something the club made official on Monday. He’ll be the home ice captain for the first time this season tonight.

Finally, we’d be remiss without mentioning the newest Sabre. Moulson was on a line with Cody Hodgson during the morning skate, suggesting they’ll play alongside each other tonight against the Stars.