Colorado Avalanche v Buffalo Sabres

Lindy Ruff was the NHL’s longest tenured NHL coach until today, when he was fired by the Buffalo Sabres. He’d been at the helm in Buffalo since 1997-98 (think Donald Audette and Alexei Zhitnik), losing in the Stanley Cup Final on the controversial Brett Hull goal in just his second season. He coached a total of 1065 games for the organization, and compiled a 562-452-78-84 record (yes, there were actual ties allowed at one point) along the way. He was also named the NHL’s coach of the year in 2006-2007.

During his time in Buffalo, there were 170 coaching changes around the NHL. Barry Trotz is now the NHL’s current longest-running coach (with Mike Babcock and Alain Vigneault in his rear-view mirror.)

The problem for Ruff this year was pretty simple: the team got a new owner, threw some money at a pretty good team, compiled a pretty good roster, and promptly headed in the wrong direction.

We talked about it on the podcast today:

When you can’t find an obvious reason or two for a decent roster failing, down comes the guillotine on the coach. Their goaltender, Ryan Miller, is world class. He’s having an off-year, and still has a .915, a hair above league average. Their d-corps is better than a lot of teams – Tyler Myres, Christian Erhoff, Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and others. They have some skilled players like Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, and Tyler Ennis. They have toughness in guys like Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno (I won’t mention their hired thug). They just…haven’t won.

Miller certainly could have been better, and probably will be, but this was simply a group playing below expectations, and the organization has been growing impatient for some real success for awhile now. I like Lindy Ruff as a coach and a man, but the team was due for a new voice, some new ideas, and a new direction. At the very least, this is the large-scale version of  ”pulling the goalie in a game” to say “wake the hell up” to your team, and to let them know that if things don’t change soon, more changes were be made. Ruff, ironically, had been hinting at “big changes” himself pretty recently.

Comments (15)

  1. This is weird. He’s all I’ve known. The team needed the change, but I’ll be honest that if we ever manage to the win cup and it’s not with him involved with the team in some way, I’ll be a little sad.

  2. Hate to say it but this was the right thing to do. It was just time.

  3. And Jack Capuano still has a job? Beggars belief.

    SB

    • The Islanders aren’t underperforming, they’re still awful. The Sabres are way underperforming and more importantly are getting worse despite getting better on paper.

  4. Next up, Darcy Regier.

    A good day for beleaguered Sabres’ fans. An infusion of hope. They’ve really, REALLY needed it, for some time now.

    • …Of course, now we get to watch the fraud of Darcy being named President of Hockey Operations and Scouting, Lindy being named interim GM, and James Patrick being named the new head coach of the Sabres.

      Yay. The more things change, huh?

  5. “Their goaltender, Ryan Miller, is world class. He’s having an off-year, and still has a .915, a hair above league average.”

    No offense, but Ryan Miller seems to have quite a few off-years. I’m not so sure he’s elite, though he’s at times shown flashes of brilliance…

    • I feel the same way. He had one outstanding season and everything else has been above average. His career average is .915, which is decently higher than, say, Cam Ward’s .910, but only .001 higher than Kari Lehtonen’s .914 or .001 lower than Jonas HIller’s .916 and no one is calling them world-class. Lundquist, Luongo, and Rinne are world-class and have save percentages of close to .920. Tuukka Rask may be world-class in a few years if he can come close to maintaining the numbers he’s put up till now. Miller is outstanding but sometimes he lets in goals that are just mind-boggling.

    • Watch the defense in front of him. I’m surprised he doesn’t have more back issues because he carries them so hard. Without him they are a very very bad team defensively. Currently they are just a bad team defensively.

  6. unless you actually watch sabres games, you have no idea how miller has played. he’s been the only reason they’ve had chances to win any games at all

    • I do watch Sabres games. He’s good, but to say he’s “world class” is probably an overstatement, unless you think a significant portion of the goalies in the NHL are “world class”, which, in a sense, they are because they’re the best 30-60 guys at what they do. Compared to each other though? Miller is often middling.

      • i think that if a significant portion of goalies in the league were on the sabres, they would have 3-4 fewer wins already, not to mention the one goal games that would be 3 or 4 goal games, and i think that if miller had the defense that a significant portion of the league provides for its goalies, his numbers would match his play. guys like rask face 20-25 shots a game from riskless, low percentage positions and have inflated numbers because of it, while miller routinely makes 4 or 5 saves a game where he’s absolutely hung out to dry

  7. Would love to see miller shut his mouth, can only imagine what the room thinks of his constant whining. Probably tuned him out before lindy

    • I agree Derek…what kind of crybaby grandstands like that in front of a camera? Answer….a loser. Sure he’s a great goalie at times but the constant camera fodder after a loss is sickening. It’s a TEAM game win or lose. You get paid a lot of money to play a GAME!!! Shut your pie hole and let management look after the team.

  8. Ruff “That was a joke. My firing was the definition of a joke”.

    Agree with the comments about Miller. When did he become such a whiny bitch. Somebody needs to tell him to STFU.

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