Friday, February 22, 2013

In the end, Longevity can't trump losing on the ice

"The hockey world knows how I and the entire Buffalo Sabres organization feel about Lindy Ruff not only as a coach but also as a person. His long tenure with the Sabres has ended. His qualities have made this decision very difficult. I personally want Lindy to know that he can consider me a friend always." -- A statement from Sabres owner Terry Pegula after the dismissal of Lindy Ruff as Sabres head coach.

Such is the legacy of Lindy Ruff behind the bench in Buffalo, that even with a struggling team on the ice, few can honestly say they expected the Sabres to bring to an end the longest running streak of coaching in the NHL. At the time of his dismissal Ruff held  the second longest tenure with one of the current four major league sports, only San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Povich, at 17 seasons has held a bench job longer.

After 1,165 games, the Buffalo Sabres and Lindy Ruff will no longer be synonymous, the Sabres announced on Wednesday that Ron Rolston the head coach of the American Hockey League Rochester Americans would be put in charge of the Sabres for the remainder of the season.

The decision to bring to an end Ruff's time in Buffalo appears to have been made after discussions between GM Darcy Regier and Team owner Terry Pegula, Team President Ted Black and Senior Advisor Ken Sawyer.

The concern of the management cadre was the Sabres 6-10-1 record, which places them well down the listings in the Eastern Conference standings, at the time of his dismissal, Ruff's Sabres were in the midst of a 4-10-1 slide and at the moment sit four points out of a playoff spot in the Conference.

Whatever malaise is stalking the Sabres, the long time coach couldn't seem to find a way through to this years version of the Sabres, a group that seems to have found new and not particularly entertaining ways to lose games since the season began last month.

With fears that the playoffs may once again be but a rumour for Buffalo fans, the management collective made their decision and the fates will deliver what they will.

The first night of the post Lindy Ruff era was not a kind one for the Sabres who fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Thursday night.

Most hockey observers suggest that should Ruff want a coaching job (and one can't imagine why he wouldn't) that he'll be back behind a bench somewhere in fairly short order, though the nature of this shortened season may make his wait just a little bit longer, perhaps into the off season.

Still, it will look strange, Lindy Ruff it seemed was one of those personalities that seemed destined to be with but one team through his career, that destiny took a detour on Wednesday, where the road goes next remains to be seen.

As for the longest serving coach currently on the books, Nashville's Barry Trotz is the guy looking to perhaps one day claim a spot in the Guinness Book of Records, though the quest for record making has taken a hit with the dismissal of the previous keeper of the flame.

Buffalo News-- Ruffs' departure still stuns Sabres
Buffalo News-- Firing brings Ruff era to startling end
Buffalo News-- Sabres' slide costs Ruff after 26 years with franchise
Buffalo News-- Ruff and family entrenched in WNY
Buffalo News-- Fans of the Sabres deserved more than listless play Sabres relieve Ruff of coaching duties, name Rolston

National Post-- Lindy Ruff fired: Sabres part ways with longtime coach
Globe and Mail-- Buffalo Sabres fire head coach Lindy Ruff Lindy Ruff fired from Buffalo Sabres job, but where will he end up next?
ESPN-- Sabres still in shock over Lindy Ruff's firing
Yahoo Sports-- After Lindy Ruff's firing, it's time for Buffalo Sabres to take top-to-bottom inventory
The Hockey News-- Lindy Ruff firing gives Sabres chance for change
CBC-- Lindy Ruff firing analysis
CBC-- Sabres fire Lindy Ruff, name Ron Rolston interim coach
Toronto Star-- Buffalo Sabres fire Lindy Ruff
Toronto Sun-- Ruff and Leafs a 'sworded' tale
Toronto Sun-- Sabres shuffle an emotional one
Toronto Sun-- Lindy Ruff's availability might cause some concern among struggling coaches
Toronto Sun-- Buffalo Sabres fire Lindy Ruff as head coach
Sportsnet-- Lindy Ruff Turfed: What Now for the Buffalo Sabres?

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