BUFFALO — Not even the Sabres’ coach is safe during this injury-filled season.
In a scary and surreal scene toward the end of practice Monday, Lindy Ruff broke three ribs after defenseman Jordan Leopold lost his balance during a drill and bowled into Ruff from behind.
Ruff fell backward, landed hard on his right side and screamed in pain. He stayed on the ice a few minutes as trainer Tim Macre helped him, eventually got up gingerly and then slowly skated off the First Niagara Center ice with help as players tapped their sticks on the ice.
The Sabres announced later in the afternoon Ruff would resume his coaching duties today.
Leopold said he had his head down while battling Ville Leino and heard Ruff’s body hit the ice.
“I lost my breath,” Leopold said. “I was looking back right when it happened. I kind of yelled, ‘You all right, you all right?’ Right away, ‘No.’ So that wasn’t a good thing. I know Lindy’s a tough guy. He played a lot of years in the NHL and played through a lot of injuries.”
The 51-year-old Ruff was hurt throughout his 12-year NHL career, only playing more than 70 games twice. But he probably thought he had endured his last injury when he retired in 1993.
“Lindy’s broken a few bones and had a few scrapes and a few cuts in his career,” Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. “To see him in that much pain there’s probably something going on there.”
The Sabres have experienced a stunning number of injuries this season, losing 238 man games. Only four regulars have remained healthy. Now Ruff’s among the casualties.
“Day-to-day, upper body injury or something like that,” Sabres captain Jason Pominville joked about Ruff’s injury before it was revealed. “I mean, that was pretty scary to be honest with you. Fortunately, he didn’t hit his head.”
Channel 2, WGRZ will simulcast MSG’s coverage of Saturday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Time Warner dropped MSG, the Sabres’ rights holder, from its cable package Jan. 1 when the sides couldn’t reach a new contract, leaving thousands of fans unable to watch the team.
The Sabres sent winger Zack Kassian to Rochester on Sunday. The rookie was a healthy scratch Saturday and played once during the recall.