Why Lindy Ruff Deserved Better From Buffalo


In the wake of Lindy Ruff’s triumphant hometown return, it’s difficult to ignore what took place in Buffalo last season.

The video tribute owed to Lindy Ruff last night was a class act by the Buffalo Sabres’ organization. It was a moment that had many fans on their feet, applauding Ruff’s career with the Sabres, and other fans in tears as the memories were relived on the jumbotron in First Niagara Center.

If only this organization could have shown the same man the respect he deserved last season.

Following a 6-10-1 start last year, Ruff was relieved of his coaching duties for the Buffalo Sabres. The NHL’s longest-tenured coach was let go after a tough start in Buffalo, and it was ultimately the decision of the Sabres’ General Manager, Darcy Regier.

It was a decision that didn’t sit well with many. For a team that’s had its fair share of tough stretches, the timing made no sense. It was a move that captured headlines throughout the hockey world and shook the foundation of Buffalo. But more importantly it was a move the Sabres’ organization should have never made; at least not until after the season.

The General Manager of an NHL franchise is solely responsible for the on-ice product, and Regier had his mark all over last year’s struggling team. A coach can only do so much with mediocre talent. If it was Lindy’s time to leave Buffalo, Regier should have led the way.

What was even more troubling is what followed in Buffalo that season. The inexperienced Ron Rolston was named interim head coach and Regier began disassembling this team, making it clear that management was giving up on the season.

There’s no question that change needed to be made sooner or later in Buffalo, and that maybe the coaching style of Lindy Ruff was overworked with the Sabres, but it should have never happened the way it did. For a man that played 10 seasons for the same organization he had been coaching for the last 16, he deserved better. In the end, Ruff was merely a scapegoat.

Now, amidst the worst start in franchise history, things are dark in Buffalo, and the team is in much worse shape than when Lindy was fired last season. In one fell swoop, Buffalo has gone from hockey heaven to hockey hell, and no one is left to blame but Darcy Regier himself.

Ruff’s return to Buffalo Monday night was a memorable moment for this fan base, and a humbling experience for the Sabres’ ex-coach. It illustrated how much he really meant to the organization, and it was only fitting that he led his Dallas Stars to a 4-3 victory over his former team.

Ruff is a professional, and he knows better than anyone that coaching changes are all a part of the job. But after listening to him talk to the media yesterday, it was clear that his heart still lies in Buffalo. He admitted that he still watches the Sabres, and roots for them in between games. He said he’ll accidentally open up the stats for Buffalo instead of Dallas from time to time, and he even slips up and says ‘we’ when referring to the Sabres. But this should come as no surprise for a man that has spent half his life in the Sabres’ organization.

Thank you Lindy, and best of luck to you and wherever your coaching career may take you.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Lindy Ruff

  • chas territo

    I guess you don’t know the truth about his firing? He lost control of the team. Players no longer bought into his rhetoric. What were they supposed to do? Keep a mute as a coach? Get it right, he was let go and the team paid him some salary. DR took him aside in private, then told him he was fired. They explained their reasoning to him face to face! How much more respect do you think was warranted? /i see the way they fired was done with the urmost respect!!

    • AJ

      He basically took the fall for the organization’s mistakes. I think his time was up in Buffalo, but look where they are now. Clearly the issue wasn’t Ruff’s coaching. It starts up top and Regier is much more at fault here

      • chas territo

        Sorry, I have to disagree slightly.Ruff lost the team about 2 years before he got fired.His coaching style became old and tired to the players! I have no problem with his coaching, but his rhetoric was falling on deaf ears. You can’t coach if the players don’t listen.

        • Ron

          And as a coach you can’t turn Luke Adam and Drew Stafford into Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

  • davidmuscalo

    Lindy Ruff, whom I respect, should have retired five years before he was fired. He is burned out and has lost the ability to motivate players. I do respect him, but I would have far more respect for him if had manned up and resigned as coach last year instead placing his loyal boss in the embarrassing position of having to fire him. Not that I like Regier, but give the Devil his due, he kept Ruff on for many years far beyond what almost no other GM would have done.

  • Dano

    Good article AJ!

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  • lamarred1118

    I disagree, he had lost the team long before he was fired and IMHO was allowed to stay way too long in his job. But as I keep saying his demise and the subsequent crumbling of the Sabres all points to Dorky and ultimately Mr. Terry Peculiar. I’m sorry maybe I should refer to him in his proper name Terribly M. Peculiar because the man obviously can’t see who is staring at him with that milktoast smirk on his face.

    Lindy lost the room because of the failures of his boss, if he had been fed a steady stream of kids as well as decent trade and free agency acquisitions the Sabres would have had a cup

    The fact that they are going to allow this clown to continue to draft anyone is beyond me when he now has traded two of his best drat picks ever in Vanek and Pominville with Miller close behind. WHO ELSE HAD HE DRAFTED IN 16 YEARS? Is the NHL full of former Sabres that have excelled to superstar status? No the only former Sabres that he ever drafted that are still in the NHL are all 3rd and 4th liners and Brian Campbell who still can’t play defense.


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  • Dano

    Nope. Not kidding. I believe it was a good article. No bashing Scott and Kaleta, no ‘ suffering ‘.. It was a change of pace from whats been posted on this site recently.

    I have no problems at all giving a small tribute to a guy whom has given 26 years to the Sabres as a player and as a coach. Good or bad doesnt matter to me, he hung around through both. ‘ No-goal ‘ to the Presidents cup.

    I read the article again and your post. Im still ‘ not kidding ‘. I believe it was a good article in context to what its not.