We may have seen the roster blown up but let's not forget that the guy behind the bench has not changed. It wasn't an accident that Lindy Ruff won the Jack Adams Award two seasons ago and was a runner up for the same trophy this past season. The Jack Adams Award is awarded to the coach of the year. Lindy is not only an outstanding coach but he is currently the longest tenured coach in the NHL.
Ruff has coached the Sabres for nine seasons after replacing Ted Nolan before the 1997-1998 season. In Ruff's nine seasons with the Sabres the team has missed the playoffs only three times and they have had a losing record just once. The Sabres failed to make the playoffs in three consecutive seasons from the 2001-2002 season until the 2003-2004 season. This was a tumultuous time in franchise history that included the owners of the team being arrested, the team declaring bankruptcy abd being run by the NHL and finally new ownership taking over.
The success that Lindy Ruff and the Sabres have had outside of that three year period are undeniable. They have made the conference finals four times, losing three and winning once. It was the 1998-1999 season when the Sabres advanced to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Dallas Stars in six games.
Ruff has 358 career regular season victories which ranks him the 30th winning coach in NHL history. He is also in the top five in winning percentage. What makes these numbers more remarkable is what both Lindy and this franchise have gone through.
Prior to the lockout the Sabres played a defensive style of hockey backed by goaltender Dominic Hasek and after the lockout the Sabres enjoyed even more success playing a run and gun style of hockey. The ability to adapt to his talent is what makes Lindy Ruff the outstanding coach that he is. He has a way of pushing the right buttons with his players and he isn't afraid to make the critical decisions. As long as Lindy Ruff is the coach of the Sabres then we can expect to see a team that will always be competitive and in the hunt. As fans we should stop focusing on the negatives and look at the positives in this orginazation.