Remember when Lindy Ruff took over for Ted Nolan in 1997? I was as shocked as anyone that Nolan was sent his walking papers. To be honest, I wasn’t that angry about it because I really didn’t think Nolan was anything more then a good motivator with a brilliant goaltender.
I had no clue who this guy Ruff was, because I was to young to remember him play. I just thought he looked like a walrus or a distant cousin of Mike Holmgren.
12 years later, Ruff is still the top fish at the HSBC Arena. He’s arguably the biggest and most popular active sports figure in Buffalo. He has either won with playing a defense style or a shoot em’ up type offense. Ruff’s been untouchable.
When the Sabres went from Stanley Cup finalists to an 8th seed, no one blamed Ruff. When they went 3 straight years earlier this decade without making the playoffs, everyone blamed John Rigas. When the Sabres lost Chris Drury and Daniel Briere making them go from President’s Trophy to 10th seed, everyone blamed management.
But how long can Mr. Teflon get a pass for the Sabres short comings? Can you remember a time when Ruff was under this much pressure? And to be honest, it really isn’t that much. Ruff has never been under any scrutiny from the fans or even the media to perform. Ruff is good with a quote, which the media loves him for. His time with the Sabres as a player, and his no non-sense approach as a coach has kind of made him a hero amongst the fans. The room is at room temperature for Ruff, but another non-playoff season and hawks will be out.