NHL Notebook: Sabres fire longtime coach Ruff

NHL Notebook: Sabres fire longtime coach Ruff
February 24, 2013, 9:00 am
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For weeks, we’ve heard Sabres general manager Darcy Regier insist that head coach Lindy Ruff’s job wasn’t in jeopardy.
 
After all, no one in the NHL could touch his 16 years behind the bench as one of the best in the business, without a Stanley Cup ring to show for it.
 
Predictably, Ruff got the axe this week after a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on home ice (First Niagara Center).
 
Regier told the Buffalo News, “The last game was, quite honestly, a tipping point. It was evident to me that we were searching for answers to too many questions.”
 
Without question, the firing had club owner Terry Pegula’s hands all over it, with input from team president Ted Black and others.
 
Regier and Ruff enjoyed one of the closest coach-GM relationships in all of sports, which is why Regier was actually quivering when he met with reporters and spoke of the firing.
 
Regier himself is now on the Sabres’ hot seat.
 
“I made the decision, but these things are not done in a vacuum,” Regier said. “I’m in conversations with Terry, with Ted Black at times, with Ken Sawyer.
 
“Like a lot of things here. But if it was Lindy or I and ownership and myself, we’re working as a team.”
 
If you count his playing days in Buffalo, Ruff has been part of the Sabres' organization for 26 years, a simply amazing run.
 
His good friend, and former teammate, Larry Playfair backed up Regier in evaluating the club and how it was responding to Ruff on the ice.
 
“I watched Lindy’s press conference after the [Winnipeg loss], and it’s as down as I’ve seen him in a long, long time,” Playfair told the News.
 
“I don’t typically do it, but this morning I watched it again on Sabres.com. You can just see he’s tried everything he can try and the guys aren’t responding. If he’s out of answers, I look at it as maybe my friend Lindy Ruff gets a break now.
 
“I know he came here in hopes of winning a Stanley Cup. I think he put a lot, lot more pressure on himself than anybody else did. I’m thinking maybe this might be just a chance for him to catch his breath.”
 
Rochester’s Ron Rolston replaced Ruff.
 
“From what I saw, it was more of just a lot of shortcuts, a lot of shortcuts, a lot of rest in shifts, the things that you just have to eliminate if you’re going to be a good hockey team,” Rolston said.
 
“Most importantly, it’s just getting back to that. It’s getting back to work and getting back to eliminating shortcuts from your game because there’s not a whole lot of time.”
 
Former Flyer turned Maple Leaf James van Riemsdyk is a huge believer in Rolston. He trained under Rolston with the U.S. National Team Development Program.
 
“I'm a big believer in him as a coach,” JVR said. “I think he made me into the player that I am today.
 
“He took me from someone who kind of had a lot of raw abilities and helped mold me into some of the skills I've been able to develop over the years. I can't say enough good things about him.”
 
Associated Press, Buffalo News, Calgary Herald, Pittsburgh Tribune Review contributed to this story.

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