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Lindy Ruff was hired as Buffalo Sabres coach in July 1997. ((Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press))

Canada will have a lot of experience behind the bench at the men's world hockey championships in Switzerland later this month, with Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres named head coach Sunday.

Ruff has the longest tenure of any NHL coach, with Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators not far behind. Trotz was named one of the assistant coaches, with Dallas bench boss Dave Tippett also joining the coaching staff.

Canada will open the tournament against Belarus on April 24 in Zurich, with preliminary games following with Hungary and Slovakia.

"In one sense, it's an opportunity that you hope you don't have very often," said Ruff. "In another sense, when you don't make [the playoffs], to be involved is a tremendous honour. And I look at it that way.

"I'm going to relish every minute of this along with our other coaches."

The general manager for the world championship effort is St. Louis Blues executive Doug Armstrong, who along with assistants Joe Nieuwendyk and Pierre Gauthier, has made the rounds of NHL arenas lately to scout eligible players.

"As a management group, we are very pleased with the coaching staff that we have been able to assemble," Armstrong said in a statement. "This coaching staff brings great professional and international experience that will serve us well as we strive to win a gold medal in Switzerland."

Ruff and Trotz were hired as NHL coaches just weeks apart in the summer of 1997, although the Buffalo coach got a head start as Nashville didn't begin play in the league until the following year.

Ruff, 49, hasn't coached a Hockey Canada team before, despite his long tenure.

While he is well qualified, he won't have the luxury of bringing a ton of familiar faces with him. Aside from Derek Roy and Craig Rivet, most of Buffalo's skilled players are from other countries.

It is expected that Canadian players will start to be announced this weekend. The team's brass will likely leave a few spots open for players whose teams are eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

There will be a wholesale change in net from the 2008 tournament. Cam Ward is back in the NHL playoffs with Carolina, Pascal Leclaire is on the mend from an injury and Mathieu Garon had a dismal season.

With files from the Canadian Press