Now that your attention has been grabbed, the Lindy Ruff suggestion is more of a half-joke. However, Phil Housley has had almost two seasons to work through the rebuild, figure out lines and pairings, and give his best guys the most ice time. Those best guys do not include Marco Scandella (who is seen too often on the power play and somehow gets ice time over a scratched Lawrence Pilut), Vladimir Sobotka, and Kyle Okposo - to name a few.
Today, there is an especially dark cloud that hangs over Buffalo fans after a disturbing start to the Sabres’ west coast road trip. Unless you live under a rock, you know they took a 7-2 beating by the Edmonton Oilers Monday night to add to their loss column. When you remove their impressive 10-game streak of wins (November seems so long ago), you have the exact same team as last season: a struggling mess on pace for 62 points - the same amount of points they earned in their first season with Housley.
At this point, it’s hard not to imagine the remainder of the season with a different head coach, albeit a reach to think of the New York Rangers current assistant coach, Ruff. But, what about Joel Quenneville? It might be worth mentioning that he led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in 10 years and is currently not coaching. As a gentle reminder, he helped develop Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane into top forwards. It also might be worth mentioning that Housley’s overall record with the Sabres thus far is an embarrassing 48-62-18.
So, what’s the answer? Perhaps a coaching change soon. Or, perhaps a coaching change in the off-season. If you want to sign great players like Jeff Skinner, it would be a waste of his talent to have him continue to be coached under Housley. Imagine how even more outstanding he would be with a different coach. More importantly, imagine Rasmus Dahlin - during his most impressionable first few years - being coached by a successful leader like Quenneville. He, like others on the team, could then develop and live up to his true potential (isn’t this what we tanked for?).
As Sabres fans, we’ve been down this road before and it’s all too familiar after getting our hopes up too early in the season. Will they make the playoffs this year? If Housley keeps coaching this way, no. The team doesn’t need to be perfect, but after an eight-year drought, they should be playoff ready.