In a stunning move, at least to those who follow the Buffalo Sabres, general manager Darcy Regier has fired head coach Lindy Ruff.
Rochester reporter Mike Catalana is reporting that current Amerks coach Ron Rolston will be taking over for Ruff, at least for the time being. Darcy Regier is slated to speak to the media at 5pm.
Ruff has been the head coach of the Sabres since July 21, 1997. Since then there had been 170 head coaching changes in the NHL. By comparison the Buffalo Bills have had eight head coaches during Ruff’s Sabres tenure.
The final straw likely came last night when the Sabres suffered a 2-1 home loss to the lowly Winnipeg Jets that saw the team get booed relentlessly by the home crowd.
Ruff had led the team through a 90 minute practice at the First Niagara Center this morning and spoke the media afterward.
Ruff finishes his Buffalo coaching career with a record of 571-432-78-84. He led the Sabres to a Stanley Cup appearance and was the Jack Adams Award winner for NHL coach of the year in 2005-06. Ruff’s 571 wins with the Sabres is the second-most by a coach with the same team in NHL history, trailing only Al Arbor’s 740 with the New York Islanders. The only NHL team Ruff’s ever been head coach of to this point, he has more wins than any other coach with his first team in league history.
The Sabres have struggled in recent years and missed the playoffs four of the past six seasons–and certainly appear on their way to making it five out of seven.
ESPN.com’s Pierre Lebrun reacted to Ruff’s firing by showing support for the now former Sabres coach.
“Lindy Ruff will re-emerge just like (Randy) Carlyle and a year from now we’ll be writing stories on what a great hire Ruff was. And it will be true.” Lebrun tweeted shortly after the news broke.
It was just a few weeks ago Darcy Regier told the Buffalo News that it would not be Ruff that paid for the team’s ugly 3-6-1 start to the season. Obviously, something changed and public pressure mounted for the team to make a major organizational change. At this time we don’t know if Regier made the final call on Ruff or if came from above via Terry Pegula and/or Ted Black.
Between his coaching career and playing days, Ruff spent over 26 years in the Buffalo Sabres organization.
Ironically, I wrote about it being time for Lindy Ruff to go this morning. For the record, I’m not a prophet.
We’ll obviously have much more on this huge developing situation as information becomes available. Keep checking back for updates and quotes.