Lindy Ruff Carries the Can for Poor Management

After 16-years in the job, Lindy Ruff was fired as Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres today.

The Sabres 6-10-1 start was enough to persuade Sabres GM Darcy Regier to end one of the longest Coaching stints in professional sports as Terry Pegula’s millions look likely to spend a second spring finding their way to local golf courses, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup.

It always seems to be the Coach who must fall on his sword when things go bad, but in my eyes Ruff is the scape goat for Regier’s mismanagement.

To be fair to Regier it wasn’t always like this. Along with Ruff he helped keep the Sabres competitive most years despite some limited funds at times. Of course it didn’t hurt having Dominik Hasek for part of that period, but the Sabres developed draft picks reasonably well and had a few good post season runs and one appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

The few seasons prior to hockey-loving billionaire Terry Pegula coming in were lean though. Whilst the Sabres were not on a complete shoe string, they weren’t in the New York Rangers or Maple Leafs financial league either.

So when Terry came to town to save the franchise and inject some financial clout hopes were high.

Success has not materialised however. And now Ruff is gone.

Is it any wonder the Sabres struggle though? Their roster feels ‘limited’. What tools did Ruff truly have to work with? Especially when you compare the team to divisional rivals who are either serious contenders (Boston) or at least look to be on an upswing after some choppy years of their own (Habs, Leafs, Sens – so the rest of the Division….)

Vanek has FINALLY found his touch again after a couple of sporadic seasons, whilst Ryan Miller is still one of the leagues elite netminders. But top talent is thin on the ground on the Sabres bench

Cody Hodgson has potential, and the team can only hope Tyler Myers gets his game out of the toilet. Christian Erhoff is a good D man, Drew Stafford is solid and Tyler Ennis seems to be carving out a fair NHL career.

So that’s it? A star goalie, a couple of young centres with potential (add Grigorenko too to be fair to him – showing promise), a winger who may finally have become a star or is simply another streaky winger on a particularly good streak. And two D men, one of whom may or may not turn out to be a top NHL blue liner?

Maybe I am being a little harsh on Jason Pominville in not listing him as well; but it’s not a roster that jumps out at you. Regehr is ageing, Ott is good at what he does but the line up screams ‘bubble’ despite significant investment

But somehow it’s Ruffs fault that the Sabres management got over excited at their new wealth and decided to chase Ville Leino to the tune of $4.5m per season….

Hey, I accept an NHL Coach has to build a winning machine out of the components he is given – but frankly it feels like Ruff was left with duff components from a banged up Ford and expected to build a race car.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on February 20, 2013, in Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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