Injured Sabres coach says he’s OK, watches game against Bruins from above the ice

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Walking slowly and stiffly, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff made his way to the coach’s box to watch his team play the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, two days after he broke three ribs during a collision in practice.

“I’m doing OK,” he told The Associated Press, with a laugh about 15 minutes before the game. “I’m vertical,” he added with a smile.

Ruff was dressed in a suit, and appeared to have something wrapped underneath his shirt.

It was Ruff’s first appearance at the Sabres’ home arena since he was hurt during an accident late in practice on Monday. The coach had his feet taken out by defenceman Jordan Leopold, who slid into him from behind.

Ruff didn’t attend practice Tuesday, and it is unclear when he can fully resume his coaching duties. Though he has consulted with coaches in person and by phone, Ruff isn’t allowed behind the bench yet because of a fear he could get hit by an errant puck.

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Assistant James Patrick is acting as interim coach on the bench, and Ruff joined goalie coach Jim Corsi on the press-box level.

The Sabres initially considered having Ruff watch the game from his office. By being in the coach’s box, he is able to communicate with the bench through a wireless headset.

In his 14th season with the Sabres, Ruff is the teams’ winningest and longest-serving coach. He last missed a game in March 2006 when he stayed home to be with his daughter, who was having surgery to remove a brain tumour.