This was written at around 5:30 on my dinner break. (Can’t post while at work). I wrote it, e-mailed it home, and am posting now.
It’s finally happened. Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I’ve been calling for this for quite a long time. Recently, the question “Will this day ever come?” has crossed a lot of people’s minds. However, it’s finally happened.
After 15 ½ seasons as the Buffalo Sabres head coach, the longest tenured head coach in the NHL is out of a job.
Lindy Ruff has been fired.
And of course I’m sitting in a meeting when it happens. I was wondering why my phone wouldn’t stop vibrating around 3:15 today.
I entitled this “End of an Era” because this is the end of an era in Buffalo. Lindy Ruff has been a part of the Buffalo Sabres organization for 54% of the team’s existence (Thanks WGR!!) I wouldn’t necessarily say that this has been an impressive era like some would. Lindy Ruff has had high points and low points with the Sabres. Unfortunately, there have been a lot more low points recently.
While I have been calling for this for a long time, I do wish Lindy Ruff the best of luck in his future endeavors. I’m confident that he will get another coaching job in the NHL within the next year or two.
I don’t take joy in the fact that Lindy Ruff is out of a job. He’s been coaching this team for a long time and has been through a lot. Unfortunately, the job wasn’t getting done in Buffalo. As I’ve said before, Lindy Ruff hadn’t won a series in the post season since 2007. Focusing on the current team, there has been a lot of questionable things that Ruff has done this season alone. For example, yesterday, we were all screaming about Drew Stafford being on the 4th line, and getting minimal power play time. I personally questioned why Cody Hodgson took the final face-off draw last night against Winnipeg, when he is horrid at face-offs. How can you develop Grigorenko if he sits in the press box, and gets minimal ice time? These are only a few of the questionable decisions that Ruff has made recently. There are plenty more.
I know Ruff will get a job elsewhere. There’s no question about that. Lindy, I wish you best of luck. However, I’m more preoccupied with what comes next for the Buffalo Sabres?
I don’t necessarily trust what Darcy Regier will do in regards to hiring a new coach. I think the best move is to appoint an interim coach for the Sabres. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Darcy Regier’s press conference. It has just been announced that Ron Rolston is the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, I called for this move last year. A lot.
I have watched this passive non-aggressive approach to the Sabres the past few years, and I’ve watched it fail miserably. I have followed the Amerks fairly closely the past two years that Ron Rolston has coached the team. There are several things that I like with Rolston as the interim head coach.
I’ve seen Rolston make several in game adjustments while coaching the Amerks. For example, on the power play, the Sabres would run 4 strong through the neutral zone, and then drop the puck back to the forward who was trailing, and try to let him maneuver through the opposing defense. It doesn’t work. I watched the Amerks try to do this 2 times in this year’s home opener between the Amerks and the Syracuse Crunch. It didn’t work on the first 2 power plays, and the Amerks stopped doing it. Power play looked a lot better after they abandoned that play, and they eventually scored on the power play in the 3rd period. This is just an example. You can see the changes unfold as the game develops.
The Amerks play a very aggressive defense, and move the puck out of their own end with speed, agility, and a sense of urgency. They’re generating odd man rushes a few times a game (pending their opponent) and they’re playing hard on a regular basis. I was at Friday night’s game between the Amerks and the Houston Aeros. The Amerks didn’t just allow the Aeros to set up in their end. They played aggressively and forced the Aeros to cycle the puck, and didn’t just give them great scoring opportunities like Buffalo normally does. I like what I’ve seen with Ron Rolston in Rochester, and I have high hopes for the remaining season for the Sabres.
In the end, it’s the start of a new era in Buffalo. I personally feel a lot more optimistic with Rolston behind the bench, and I think that he may be able to tweak things enough to get this team playing a new style of hockey. One that makes the Buffalo Sabres a lot more competitive. I wanted to see this move happen last year, and was calling for it for quite a long time. I could be wrong, but I think Rolston will do very well in Buffalo.
There are some great memories of Ruff’s tenure in with the Sabres. However, I feel that since 2007, this has been a slow downward spiral. In sports, it doesn’t matter how much of a fan favorite you are. If the results aren’t there, then something has got to give. No playoff series victories for the Sabres since 2007?
This has been a long time coming.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB... I will be online from around 9 until 10ish tonight answering questions, and discussing this now historic day in Buffalo Sabres history.