Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Rangers prospect Skjei leaves Gophers, headed to AHL

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    University of Michigan v Minnesota Getty Images

    New York’s first-round pick in 2012 will reportedly join AHL Hartford.

  2. Report: No suspension for Burrows after Gaustad hit

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:56 AM EDT

    Alex Burrows Getty Images

    Vancouver forward was given a five-minute interference major on the play.

  3. Caps unveil new 24-hour radio channel

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT

    Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom AP

    Caps Radio 24/7 provides “a sense of community among our fan base, with players and fans alike contributing to its content.”

  4. NHL on NBCSN: Flyers won’t fool with Penguins on Rivalry Night

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:37 AM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Philly’s beaten its local rival six times in a row.

  5. PHT Morning Skate: Visual evidence of Drew Miller’s close call

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:36 AM EDT

    scarymiller

    Also: Alex Ovechkin’s peerless goal-scoring work and other links.

  6. Video: Burrows ‘surprised, upset’ he received a major penalty for hit on Gaustad

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    Could the Vancouver forward be facing further discipline from the league?

  7. ‘We just didn’t have it tonight': Lightning lose to Maple Leafs

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:17 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    Tampa Bay is in a battle for the Atlantic Division.

  8. Canucks’ Bieksa penalized for illegal check to the head

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    Could Vancouver’s veteran defenseman be looking at a suspension?

  9. NHL bringing back draft pick compensation this offseason for hiring away coaches, GMs

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings Getty Images

    3rd-round pick if it happens after the season, 2nd-rounder if it happens in-season.

  10. Contract stalemate continues between Columbus, prized prospect Reilly

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals Getty Images

    University of Minnesota blueliner inching closer to free agency.

  11. Bettman shoots down idea of renaming NHL awards

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Awards - Arrivals Getty Images

    So the Hart will not, as some have suggested, become the Gretzky.

Featured video

Can anything stop Tampa Bay?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Letang (1934)
  2. A. Steen (1756)
  3. D. Dubnyk (1744)
  4. H. Lundqvist (1737)
  5. A. Hammond (1722)
  1. P. Datsyuk (1676)
  2. M. St. Louis (1674)
  3. B. Little (1572)
  4. E. Malkin (1558)
  5. S. Weber (1443)