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So long, Lindy — Sabres fire head coach Ruff

Feb 20, 2013, 3:19 PM EDT

Lindy Ruff AP

It’s the end of an era in Buffalo. The Sabres announced Wednesday that head coach Lindy Ruff has been fired.

Ruff, 53, had been the Sabres’ head coach since July 21, 1997, and was the longest-serving coach in the NHL. Four times he took Buffalo to the conference finals, advancing to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999 where the Sabres fell to the Dallas Stars in six games.

In 2006, Ruff won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach.

But the Sabres are off to a disappointing 6-10-1 start this season, Ruff’s 15th as Buffalo’s bench boss. Last night, they were booed off the ice at the First Niagara Center after losing, 2-1, to Winnipeg.

All the while, pressure was mounting on general manager Darcy Regier to make significant changes.

Buffalo’s current struggles come after the team missed the playoffs in 2011-12 despite one of the highest payrolls in the NHL.

Related: Looking back at Ruff’s time in Buffalo

  1. ravenscaps48 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Saw this one coming.

    • 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…

    • sabatimus - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      I didn’t. Even with the poor record. I’m actually sorry to see him go, and I’m a Bruins fan.

  2. bgrillz - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Not surprising. Can’t say he is to blame for this teams lack of fortitude.

  3. axisofweasels - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    wow. whos interim coach? theyve got a game tomorrow

  4. mydadyourmom - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Will always love you Lindy.

  5. spochiefsfan - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Wow. End of an era I guess. Who’s going to take over? Very interesting news! There’s a whole lot of talent to coach on that team.

  6. sjsharks66 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    How stupid are they going to feel when they bring in a new coach and realize they still suck?

    • billsfan1 - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      because the San Jose sharks have been such a force over the years… right?

      • bagjr387 - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        nothing like winning your division or the presidents trophy every year(seems like it anyway) and getting bounced in the first round……

  7. darenpuppa31 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Thank the big baby Jesus. This team has accepted the status quo for far too long.

  8. chanceoffleury1 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    FINALLY!

  9. broadstbully33 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Now all they need are 4 defenseman and 9 forwards

    • sabatimus - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      I’d say they need 4 defensemen and 6 forwards.

  10. buffalomafia - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Hip hip hooray! Next is Regeire!

  11. juliath83 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I’d love for the Avs to hire him. They’ll probably hire another AHL coach, though. Or worse, extend Sacco another 3 years.

  12. Stiller43 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Whens the last time the sabres really did anything noteworthy witb their play?

    Seems like this came way too late

  13. buffalowned - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    He actually did advance further than the eastern conference finals once..they made it to this thing called the Stanley cup finals in 99

    • Jason Brough - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      Fixed. Our intern, Brett Hull, actually wrote this post.

      • sabatimus - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Very well played.

      • buffalowned - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        hahaha that’s great

  14. mainevent7567 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    hey Jason, not to nit pick… but 99 stanley cup? he has advanced past conference finals. give him that at least. granted Hasek did it for him.

  15. mydadyourmom - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Ted Nolan is coming back.

  16. Eberwizzle - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    About 4 years too late

    • zetaone - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      So you’d suggest firing him a year after they won the President’s Trophy?

      • Eberwizzle - Feb 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        I believe they won that trophy 7 years ago?

  17. oquintero99 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Should have been the GM’s head. Lindy is a great coach but he can only do so much with the current personnel. Wish him the best! Hope he finds a gig soon. Would love to see him with the Avs.

  18. buffalo65 - Feb 20, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    As a huge fan I hate to see him go, might have been time though. For all those calling for his head, a lot of teams would have taken Ruff in a second.

  19. 19to77 - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Didn’t the owner give both Ruff and Regier his “vote of confidence” last week? Is that NHL code for “you’re fired” or what?

  20. bagjr387 - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I assume Regier did this to spare his own job…..But who knows how long he sticks around….although he seems to have been drafting better than average….

  21. 8man - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Ruff won’t be out of a job for long. And the Sabres haven’t been awful. Then again, I’m not paying to see them. I always ask, rhetorically of course, who have you got that is better than the guy your are tossing?

  22. 19to77 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Ruff’s not as much of the problem as Regier is. It’s not Ruff’s fault he has only half an NHL defense corps and one scoring line. The GM needs to actually correct his team’s weaknesses when they’re identified.

    Not that Ruff didn’t need to go, but he’s the smaller part of the Sabres’ problem. Until Regier follows, this won’t accomplish much.

  23. oquintero99 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    If Reiger is let go at the end of the season, would the Sabres hire Burke?

  24. barkar942 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Hire Mike Haviland.

  25. steelers4385 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    YYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS

  26. dutchman1350 - Feb 20, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Lindy,

    Jarmo Kekäläinen and John Davidson holding on line 1.

  27. thedavesiknowiknow - Feb 20, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Realistically- he lost his job (along with it the team) during the 12 game losing streak (that happened LAST season) that ultimately cost the Sabres a playoff spot. It just took the organization until today to stop paying him and letting him go on the bench during games. If you caught any of the comments during locker clean-out day it was obvious that this group wasn’t interested in playing for someone they collectively hated. That should have been evidence enough that the guy had to go. The “status-quo” mentality and dysfunction that plague this organization haven’t come to a head just yet- but hopefully this actually is a start. This season is 1/3 of the way through- hopefully the players are aware of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. If not- I seriously hope we finally see (some) accountability on the players end as well. Shockingly- I think the fans (and the overall atmosphere in the arena) actually worked in this case, and may continue to influence decisions that management makes.

    I’m conflicted on seeing Ruff go. He’s been the coach for half my life. All sentiment aside- the game passed him by. The style he was trying to force onto his players was dead 5 years ago, and dying 10 years ago. That would be enough: add to that the idea that there was practically nobody on his roster that was equipped to play that style anyways, and you have to wonder why it took so long, or why the roster never reflected his ideology. When Pegula took ownership of the team, I couldn’t help but have a vision of the day Ruff brought a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. All faults aside- he was a class act in the community, and deserves nothing but the best in the future. I really hope this roster is (at the very least) embarrassed into competing from here on.

  28. wonderkt - Feb 20, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    While I think Lindy is far from the biggest problem the Sabres have, it was probably the first step that had to be taken. As the article notes: “Buffalo’s current struggles come after the team missed the playoffs in 2011-12 despite one of the highest payrolls in the NHL.” Who signed all those high paid under-performing, ‘no-heart’ players to create one of the highest payrolls in the NHL?? It certainly was not Lindy. If the coach is going to be held accountable, how about the GM, too?

    And, as a previous comment noted, maybe the slackers on the roster (and us Buffalo fans know who they are) will be embarrassed into halfway earning what they are being paid.

    I will miss Lindy’s post-game press conferences, though. He was the rare sports figure who would actually say something and answer a question.

  29. cranespy - Feb 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    The NHL needs men like Lindy…..hope he lands another coaching a job soon!

  30. go16rocketmail - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Is Keith Jones from NBC high or on something ?? He was on his soap box yesterday saying the Sabres “owed it” to Ruff to keep him until the end of the year !! Are you crazy ? This team needs a spark to try and make the playoffs and not keep a guy around who can’t motivate his team !! Grab a clue there Keith !

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