At 3h12pmET today Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier made the announcement that head coach Lindy Ruff was relieved of his coaching duties. The 2-1 loss to Winnipeg yesterday on home ice was his last game as head coach of the franchise. With the loss the Sabres are the first team in the Eastern Conference to reach 10 losses in regulation time this season. They are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games with the league’s top scorer in their roster and much better goaltending provided by Ryan Miller this season. The team is just not responding well anymore. With the next game tomorrow evening in Toronto the timing was good to make the announcement today. It also comes at the third of the season. Buffalo is 13th in the East with more games played (17) than Florida (15) and Washington (15) at the bottom.
During the press conference Regier held with the media he announced that Ron Rolston, 45, will replace Ruff as head coach of the Sabres until the end of the current short season. Rolston was acting as head coach of the Rochester Americans, the organization’s farm team in the AHL. Regier has clearly stated that Rolston could be candidate as permanent head coach next season if he can demonstrate he can handle the job and hopefully turn things around during the last 31 games of the season for the team.
Regier faced a barrage of questions from reporters close to the team who saw the dismissal coming for more than a week. Regier has admitted that Ruff and him had been ”talking” lately about a possible change behind the bench. Regier has denied that he was told by Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula to dismiss Ruff right away mentioning it was his sole decision made earlier today.
Lindy Ruff is the first coach to be fired this season in the NHL. The word around the league was that Claude Noel of the Winnipeg Jets was to be the first coach fired this season before today. However when you think about it perhaps a change after 16 vears with the same coach may not come that much of a surprise after all.
Note: Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators, now the longest-tenured coach in the NHL, was hired two weeks after Ruff in 1997.