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End of an era: Looking back at Ruff’s time in Buffalo

Feb 20, 2013, 3:39 PM EDT

Lindy Ruff AP

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Lindy Ruff, ending his reign as the longest active tenured bench boss in the NHL, and second-longest in North American professional sports.

Ruff took over in Buffalo on July 21, 1997, from Ted Nolan, becoming just the 15th head coach in franchise history.

To put his longevity in perspective — from the time Ruff was hired to the time he was fired, there were 170 different NHL coaching changes.

His tenure as head coach is longer than the history of four NHL franchises (Nashville, Columbus, Minnesota and Atlanta/Winnipeg.)

Ruff also held a distinct mark within the world of pro sports. Of the “big four” in North America — MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA — he was second only to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs (who has been at the helm since Dec. 10, 1996).

With Ruff’s firing, Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz moves into first among active NHL coaches — he took over on Aug. 6, 1997 — and second among all active coaches in the aforementioned big four.

The others?

Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels (1999), Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (2000), Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins (2002), Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (2003) and Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics (2004).

In terms of NHL coaches, the next longest-tenured are Trotz, Detroit’s Mike Babcock (2005), Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault (2006) and Boston’s Claude Julien (2007).

But back to Ruff, and a list of his accomplishments in 16 seasons on the job:

— 571 wins with Sabres, second-most by a head coach with a single franchise, trailing only Al Arbour (Islanders, 740).

— 2006 Jack Adams winner for NHL coach of the year.

— 1999 Eastern Conference champion, Stanley Cup finalist.

— 2007 Presidents’ Trophy.

— Eight playoff appearances.

— Two Northeast Division banners.

— 57-44 playoff record. Most playoff wins of any Sabres head coach.

The Sabres have yet to name a replacement. GM Darcy Regier will address the media at 5 p.m. ET.

  1. elemeno89 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    as much as i hate to admit that he needed to go, it is true. with that said, he is the only coach that i can remember while rooting for this team, and i respect him for everything that he has done for the organization. i wish him the best of luck, and i am honest when i say if he wins a cup or any other championship i’ll look at him with a smile on my face.

    thanks lindy, but the time had come…

  2. soj83 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    My favorite memory of him was when he called Brad Boyes a goon for fighting Toni Lydman.

    • mydadyourmom - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      probably pales in comparison to what he was calling Boyes last year.

  3. tarotsujimoto74 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    05-06 was the year…

  4. buffalomafia - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    It had to come to this. But how come Regeire is still around?

  5. buffalomafia - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Regeire is talking now & Sabres are getting Rochester Americans coach instead of getting quality coach!

    Pegula should fire Regeire next!

  6. pdmjr - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Always had a great deal of respect for Ruff as a player and a coach. Good luck to him

  7. sheckyrimshot - Feb 20, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    hopefully for his wife, “lindy on the road, ruff at home” doesnt take on a new meaning…

  8. flyerguy73 - Feb 20, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Yes, he got canned, but you can only do so much with a talentless bunch of below average players.

  9. kgun80 - Feb 20, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    As a Philly fan you know all about below average talent right?

  10. flyerguy73 - Feb 20, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Great comeback kpun80. Don’t cry that your team whatever it is sucks. Go make stupid comments somewhere else. Bye bye.

    • mmmpierogi - Feb 20, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Wait, when’s the last time the Flyers did anything that anybody outside of Philly remotely cared about? Mmm, let’s see … I think the correct answer would be about 40 years ago, which may even pre-date you. Apparently all non-Philly fans can only wish their team was so relevant.

  11. KWRegan - Feb 20, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    I’ve always felt Ruff got a great deal out of his players.

  12. kgun80 - Feb 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    @Flyerguy73 says
    Great comeback kpun80. Don’t cry that your team whatever it is sucks. Go make stupid comments somewhere else. Bye bye.
    Your right my team( Buffalo) is not doing very well right now.. But last time I saw the standings aren’t the flyers only up by 3 on us? Thanks for proving how idiotic Flyers fans are once again.. “Your team whatever it is sucks” .. And I make stupid comments?

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