Darcy Regeir actually did it: he fired the guy I was convinced he was married to. I of all people wanted this to happen more than anything, two years ago let alone now. The Series against Philadelphia was what did it for me and Lindy Ruff. Game 6, up 3-0 and poised to send the Flyers home and they blew the lead, sending the game back to Philadelphia and thus, losing the series. He lost twice in game seven's to Peter Laviolette coached teams, how ironic? Yet what really bothered me was how the team just seemed like it completely lost it's focus towards the end of that series. Thats when I was convinced that this team will never win the Stanley Cup with him as the head coach, not because he wasn't good enough to ever be a cup winning coach, but more the fact that after a decade long tenure, it just started to feel like Lindy Ruff missed his window to win it all with the Sabres. And When your a player for the Sabres being coached by Ruff, I guess you can say after so long, it gets tougher to listen to Ruff's message as time passes, and that's exactly what happened.
Ruff wont be out of work long, he's a good coach, but he needed this just as much as the team does. His act was just stale here. Overall, i'd say he had a really good tenure in Buffalo and I hope he catches on somewhere else and does well.
The Andy Reid comparisons to that some people have been tossing out there for Lindy Ruff are also a load of crap in my opinion. Andy Reid coached in the large market Philly and although Andy Reid did lose Donovan McNabb in the twilight of his career, he had suitable replacements in Kolb and Vick and never had a situation where a 28 yr old McNabb in his prime said "I dont wanna be here, im walking because your owner is cheap and doesn't wanna pay me what im worth" Andy Reid also had a stable owner in Jeffery Lurie and the Andy Reid led Eagles always were in contention for the big name players like Jevon Kearse, Nmamdi As(I cant spell his f'n name) and Terrell Owens in his prime, and didnt have to settle for second-tier guys most of the time like Jordan Leopold and Villie Lieno, although Erhoff was a splash. He also didnt have four different owners: The Rigas, to No Owner or Vacant/NHL, to Golisano, and then finally Terry Pegula. Most Importantly Andy Reid never dealt with a bankruptcy Reid to Ruff? Not even close except tenure length.
Now i've wanted him gone for a long time, maybe more than anyone, but it needed to be done just for the sake of getting a fresher, younger voice in to that locker room. Buffalo has never really been the easiest place in the NHL to win in and always seems to have a certain vibe to it for outsiders such as:"if you ever want to win a championship of any sort, you shouldn't come to Buffalo".
Ironically, Lindy Ruff got the Sabres as close as they've ever been to the Stanley Cup. He took the team to the Conference Finals Four Times, And is the only other coach to reach the Stanley Cup Finals....they may of been a healthy Tim Connolly and a healthy defense unit away from winning the cup. Not to mention he dealt with the bankruptcy, a nightmarish ownership situation and he managed to be apart of this team's revitalization after the lockout when just a couple years removed from his star selke winning forward Michael Peca was dealt and his Hart trophy calliber goaltender, maybe one of the best ever was traded for a first round pick that became Dan Paille.
On top of that, he dealt with a losing his star players again in Daniel Briere, Chris Drury and Brian Campbell, but still managed to get this team back into the playoffs twice more for another short revitalization behind Ryan Miller's Veznia winning season and the defense pairing of Hank Tallinder and Tyler Myers. Nice trick in my book. The next season after the loss to Boston started off bad, but the way the Sabres charged back to make the playoffs was a damn good effort up until they actually made it to game 6 of the Philadelphia Flyers series at home. That Series was my low point, but the next season to me only made things worse.
It can be argued that the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller was the beginning of the end for Ruff's tenure in Buffalo? It's not a good thing when the entire NHL is questioning your manhood is it? The start of this season only added insult to injury and a change undoubtedly had to be made at head coach after 16 years.
Having said all that, Ruff last as long as he did because it always seemed that Darcy Regeir was always able to use the benefit of the doubt as a reason not to be fired, and many of the times those reasons were pretty valid. You cant blame him for a bankruptcy and the struggles after along with a cheap owner but you can finally blame him for this team's loss of direction the last two seasons. This has finally hit the lowest point they've been at since before the lockout in Darcy Regeir's eyes, and this change needed to happen for the good of the team. But Regardless, i'd say Ruff had a pretty damn good tenure here, considering he had success in a place that has had working conditions that have not made it easy to win here.
It will be really interesting to see what he does in another city if he coaches again, and he should. Ruff is a good coach, and he'd be doing himself a major injustice if he didn't coach another team. With a 571-432-162 record, Ruff was the winningest coach in franchise history; only Al Arbour, who won 740 games with the New York Islanders, has more NHL victories with one team. Farewell my friend.
In my opinion Lindy Ruff should get a standing ovation when he returns to coach here against the Sabres.
As far as canidates for replacing Ruff on a permanent basis, here is a brief list of good canidates:
-Mike Haviland: Former Assistant Coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, suprisingly fired last offseason for a reason Blackhawks fans cant figure out. He's been a finalist for a couple head coaching jobs already.
-Patrick Roy: Fantastic Junior Hockey Coach of the Quebec Remparts who coached Mikhail Grigorenko. Also a top canidate in the NHL.
-Ron Rolston: Current Interim Head Coach of the Sabres is getting his shot, and his tenure with Rochester has been impressive. He certainly has the inside track on the job for sure. He's the older brother of Brian Rolston -Tony Granato: Qualifies as the recycled coach, but regardless is a good canidate. Currently is Dan Blysma's right hand man in Pittsburgh.
-Peter Laviolette (If he gets fired): I dont think Laviolette is the problem in Philadelphia at all, but I wouldnt be suprised. I've always thought Lavi has been an excellent coach, and if he came available he would be my top choice by far.
-Lane Lambert: Also of the Nashville Predators, was formerly the head coach of the Milwaulkee Admirals. Slowly becoming a hotter name by the day, and Nashville ain't a bad place to look for a coach. Lambert has excelled everywhere he's been. Can you name the coach who was also a head coach for Nashville's AHL affiliate? Kirk Muller of the Carolina Hurricanes who succeeded Lambert in 2011-12.
-Dave Lewis: Assistant coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, and former longtime Scotty Bowman assistant. Nicklas Lidstrom often gives credit to Lewis for his career success. Has a 131-82-21 record in his three years as coach of the Red Wings and Bruins. Maybe Dave Lewis is what Tyler Myers needs?
-Newell Brown- Current Assistant coach for the Canucks and former Ducks assistant. Newell Brown is a powerplay master. Everywhere he has been, the Powerplays have sharp. He's run top 5 units in Vancouver and Anaheim. Probably the best powerplay coach in the NHL.
-Tom Renney: He did a lot with a young, thin roster in Edmonton, but GM Steve Tambellini decided Renney's work wasn't good enough to justify keeping him around. Renney has a solid track record as a coach.
Scott Stevens: Devils assistant is a head coach in the making.