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The Buffalo Sabres announced today that they have “relieved Lindy Ruff of his coaching duties”.
That is the “nice” way of saying, “We fired him.”
It’s been asked for, begged for, longed for, pined for, and even fully expected for a few seasons now. Sabres fans (and players?) have felt the need for change due to the teams year after year being appropriately labeled “Underachievers”.
Actually, it is only because of loyalty to the man who has spent 25 years of his life with the Sabres organization, both as a player (1979-1989) and as its head coach (1997-2013) that he was still employed by the team.
Strange. Writing that closing date for Ruff’s coaching career felt a bit like an obituary just now.
Prior to today’s announcement, Ruff had been the second-longest tenured coach in American pro sports. Now the silver medal would currently go to Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators. (This could be the proverbial writing on the wall for Mr. Trotz…)
I actually remember the day, as a long-time Sabres fan, when the team went through coaches as fast as their Buffalo pro-sports counterpart have in the last decade and a half, or so. Rick Dudley, John Muckler, Ted Nolan… all fine coaches, actually. But they all only lasted a few years, then they were “let go”.
But not Ruff. His record at his departure: 571-432-162. That’s one thousand, one hundred and sixty-five games. That, folks, is rather impressive. Even if you’re not a fan of his coaching of late (or ever) you’d have to give at least a slight tip of the hat to his incredible longevity. (And a winning percentage of .560 over that span, as well.)
Only three coaches in NHL history have coached more than a thousand games with the same team.
And thus begins a new era.
I’m not really sure what to expect. I am an eternal optimist, and even I have been saying for a few weeks now, “I guess it’s time they fire Ruff!” The players have been lackluster (by many accounts) in several of their games this season. The 2013 season began well, with two straight wins, but since then the Sabres are 4-10-1.
Some of their wins have been fantastic. A 7-4 win in Boston, scoring four goals in the third, and overcoming a 3-1 second-period deficit as well. They’ve even looked pretty good in at least a couple of the losses: this past Sunday 4-3 to Pittsburgh, and a loss to the Ottawa Senators by the same score a couple weeks prior.
Were the players purposely not playing their best or their hardest to force management’s hand? Did they hope to see Ruff’s tenure severed?
No one can know that but the players.
We will now test that theory beginning tomorrow. The Rolston era will begin in Buffalo.
Boy, that sounds weird.
I look forward to seeing a new and different Sabres team. It can only get better, right?
And I wish the man, Lindy Ruff, who has lived for a while now in one of my home towns (Clarence, NY) only the best. Whether he coaches somewhere else or not—the affirmative being most likely—he will be forever admired and loved by the Buffalo community.
He’s a bit of an icon.
And now he’s gone. May he rest in peace.
Well, at least, his longest tenured coach bit.