NHL – Lindy Ruff’s Last Stand

25 Apr


On January 27th of this year, I wrote a post on this blog titled “Why Lindy Ruff Should Be Fired”. Now that the season is over and the Buffalo Sabres have officially missed the playoffs, I have to say that I stand by everything in that post other than the suggestion that young Kevin Adams would be a good replacement. After seeing the Sabres drub the Boston Bruins 6-0 in the first game that Ruff spent in the press box after being the victim of a fluke injury in practice, I could easily see the man who spent that night behind the bench, assistant coach James Patrick, doing a good job if he were to take the head coaching reins. I really believe that the fact that the same roster that was so underachieving all year could be so dominant against the defending Stanley Cup champions is an indictment of Ruff, and a huge statement by those players that they are tired of Ruff’s methods. There were a lot of subtle comments from players on locker cleanout day referring to Ruff’s handling of them and with frustration with the coach’s “system”. Thomas Vanek stated that Ruff treats him the same way now that he did when he was a 21-year old rookie. That treatment includes a lot of yelling and negativity as Ruff attempted to get his star winger to up his game to a higher level. I have to believe that grown men, some of them veteran players, aren’t very fond of being treated like 5 year olds.

Without a doubt, the Sabre players are responsible for the disappointing 2011/12 season, but when basically every player on the roster has a year that sees a regression from the previous year, the coach has to take the brunt of the blame. It’s his job to motivate the team and put each player in a position to succeed, and Ruff failed miserably at that part of his job. Owner Terry Pegula has already announced that both Ruff and GM Darcy Regier will return next season, a move that hasn’t pleased many fans who are tiring of the stale environment surrounding the team. It’ll be imperative on Ruff to make sure the Sabres don’t get off to another of their awful slow starts next year, as he and Regier will most certainly be on a short leash. There’s no way the fan base will accept anything short of a team that contends for a high spot in the standings and eventually the Stanley Cup, a goal Pegula has set as what he’s looking for from his management team.

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