End of an Era in Buffalo
For 16 years, Lindy Ruff steered the Buffalo Sabres from behind the bench. Coach after coach was fired, some more than once, and Ruff stayed in place, through bankruptcy and multiple ownership changes and the departure of major stars.
That ended this afternoon, and now, for the first time since July 21st, 1997, the Sabres will have somebody else behind the bench for their next game, which just happens to be tomorrow night here in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
The writing was on the wall when the Sabres got off to a slow start this season, and fingers immediately were pointed at the tandem of Ruff and GM Darcy Regier. A home ice loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday night sealed Ruff's fate after 1,065 regular season games.
The Sabres did not immediately name a replacement. Ruff's assistant coaches are James Patrick, Kevyn Adams and Teppo Numminen. Buffalo is 6-10-1 and sits 13th in the Eastern Conference.
The strange part for Ruff is that when owner Terry Pegula took over the club in Feb., 2011, it appeared that the Sabres would finally be able to access the kind of talent that had often not be available for Ruff's use. The team went out and spent heavily on free agents like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, but has fared worse in the Pegula era than in the days when cash was tight.
Ruff turned 53 earlier this week. His best accomplishment was getting the Sabres to the 1999 Stanley Cup final, losing to Dallas. He was the NHL's longest serving coach and one of only four coaches to coach 1,000 games with the same team.
There were 170 coaches fired while Ruff coached Buffalo. Barry Trotz with Nashville is now the NHL's longest serving coach.