I never thought I would see the day that Darcy Regier fired Lindy Ruff, but that’s exactly what has happened.
To say I’m shocked is an understatement. Regier has told me numerous times that as long as he was here, Lindy Ruff would be his coach.
There is no question this move needed to be made. Ruff was obviously out of answers, and, for a team to play as poorly as this team has this season, his message was no longer being heard.
Ruff was accused, by players, of being too tough during locker clean out day in April of last year, and he was told by Terry Pegula during the summer to get it straightened out. Ruff did and has used a softer and gentler approach this season, but, it didn’t work.
Ruff took the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals once and to the Eastern Conference Finals four times. On the other side of that coin, they haven’t made the playoffs six of the last 10 seasons.
I have always thought Ruff is a good coach, and I still do, but the greatest coaches in the history of the game have been fired too.
You can’t coach a team that plays like this team does, game after game, and tell the fans it’s OK and status quo.
I’m rather surprised Ruff ran practice on Wednesday and even spoke to the media.Ruff is a very well respected coach around the NHL, and I’m sure he will be hired to coach another team, and likely will do well.
He spent many years in this community. As a player and coach he’s been here over 24 years.
On the ice this organization has been stuck in the mud. The core of this team needed to be broken up and it was. Tim Connolly, Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad all have been removed, yet the team has not gotten better.
As I sit here and reflect on Ruff’s years it doesn’t seem like it’s been since 1997. This has been Ruff’s only job as a head coach. He was an assistant in Florida before coming to Buffalo.
I remember Ruff hanging over the boards yelling at Gary Bettman as he presented the Stanley Cup to the Dallas Stars after Brett Hull scored a goal that shouldn’t have counted.
I remember him promising the fans they’d be back down in front of City Hall.
I remember a man who wanted things done his way on the ice. He never really wanted a strong captain. It didn’t work out with Michael Peca or Chris Drury or Craig Rivet. He was more comfortable with guys like Stu Barnes or Jason Pominville who wouldn’t challenge him.
Let’s get back to the relationship between Regier and Ruff. Darcy Regier has told me numerous times that he believes in what the New York Islanders did with Al Arbour and Bill Torrey. He felt Ruff was his coach and they would navigate the waters together. They did for many years, probably too many years.
I never thought Regier would outlast Ruff. The GM got a contract extension in the off season. Terry Pegula has said he was comfortable working with Ruff. I guarantee he didn’t take this decision lightly.
I can’t imagine what that room was like this afternoon when Ruff was told. Whether you like these men or not, this may have been the worst day in Darcy Regier’s career with the Sabres.
What this does to the team, only time will tell. Leaving this community will be tough for Ruff and his family, he’s always known this could happen at some point.