Devils coach leaves game early after taking puck to head on bench

There was a scary moment during Thursday’s Carolina Hurricanes-New Jersey Devils game, as Devils head coach Lindy Ruff took a puck to the head.

Ruff, 63, suffered the injury in the second period and missed the third.

With about six-and-a-half minutes to go in the second frame, a member of the Hurricanes looked to be getting the puck out of Carolina’s own zone, but it headed right toward the bench, aiming right for Ruff.

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Head coach Lindy Ruff (R) of the New Jersey Devils prepares for his game against the Dallas Stars at Prudential Center on January 20, 2024, in Newark, New Jersey.  (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The broadcast said the puck hit Ruff on the side of the head. He was tended to trainers, who looked like they had to keep Ruff upright on the bench.

Devils associate coach Travis Green said Ruff was feeling “a little better” after the game.

“Just wasn’t feeling right,” Green said. But the improvement was “great to see.”

“You never like to see what happened out there,” Green added. “Obviously, it happens once in a while.”

While fans are protected from pucks, players and whatever else can fly into the stands, the benches don’t have glass boards, because of quick line changes during action.

The team said Friday afternoon that Ruff would not be on the ice for their practice Friday as a precaution.

Lindy Ruff coaching

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff looks on during the second period of their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on December 5, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Derek Cain/Getty Images)

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Buffalo Sabres broadcaster Rob Ray was bloodied after taking a direct shot by a puck while reporting at the ice level last month.

New Jersey lost, 3-2, in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.

Ruff took over the Devils in 2020, and it’s been a love-hate relationship with him since. In his second season, chants of “Fire Lindy” rang throughout Prudential Center, but in the midst of their 13-game winning streak last year, those same fans chanted, “Sorry Lindy.”

Lindy Ruff with Devils

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff and New Jersey Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette behind the bench against the Boston Bruins on October 3, 2022, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.   (Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

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The Devils have been hit with injuries all season, including to their phenom in Jack Hughes, but Ruff is back on the fans’ bad side with their 24-19-3 record that currently leaves them out of the playoffs.

However, his 858 wins with the Devils, Sabres and Blue Jackets are the fourth-most in NHL history.

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