Thanks, Coach

From hockey-reference.

By this time tomorrow, most likely, there will be another name next to ‘L. Ruff’ on that top line.  You all know (and can see there) how long it’s been since you could say that about the Buffalo Sabres.  Whether ‘R. Rolston’ starts with a win, or a loss, it’s going to look pretty darn strange there.  I almost started this by saying I’ve never seen a non-Lindy Ruff Sabres team, but that’s not true. My first NHL game (albeit a pre-season one) was in the second year from the bottom (1992-1993), when the Sabres played in their ECHL affiliate’s barn in Norfolk, VA.  Here’s my local paper’s take on the game.  Funny to me now how they mentioned the crowd seemed to be behind Buffalo and not Washington.  I think Alexander Mogilny might’ve had something to do with it.  Another newspaper complaining about the home crowd, imagine.  I seem to remember that being a notable year for Mogilny, heh.  Anyway, I think every other game I’ve attended had Lindy Ruff at the helm.

I do think the timing is right here.  He seemed to be at an end with what to do with his band of losers, and it’s as much putting him out of his misery as it is ‘shaking things up’.  I hope he does well somewhere, preferably in the Western conference.  I’ll always remember the anger and fire from his best days, as Heather B. mentioned, whether it’s sparring with Bryan Murray or Ken Hitchcock, or grabbing Pominville’s stick to bang on the boards to get the ref’s attention (and scaring the crap out of Jason at the same time), I’ll miss him.  But I already missed that Lindy, as he’s appeared all too infrequently in recent years.

Do I expect some monumental turnaround?  I don’t, really.  Ruff had faults as a coach, but the talent is what it is.  There are a lot of parts here that seem to not fit into a spot, at least the way they’ve been assembled.  It might take another off-season to fix that.  I’ve been resigned to the fact for a time now that the playoffs are pretty unlikely, and it’s best just to enjoy the games as best as I can.  That’s actually a pretty good thing to do at any time, by the way.  It’s how I get through football season.  I’d like to close by thanking Lindy Ruff for all the time he’s put in here and for here, and wishing good luck to Ron Rolston.

Sabres Thoughts

Gotta get a few things out there.  First, I don’t care if your coach is an asshole.  He shouldn’t have to hold your hand or give you a pat on the back for your effort.  You left that behind when your mom was no longer waiting off the field or ice surface with orange slices and a bottle of water.  Second, he might be yelling because you are MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  If we as fans are throwing our hands up in the air and shouting obscenities at you as you weakly pass across in front of your own net YET AGAIN, I can only imagine what Ruff is thinking.

Look, I realize that emotions and personality play a part in all aspects of life, and for a hockey player, that includes hockey.  I’ve had bosses I didn’t like, but I kept working hard because I prided myself on it.  Didn’t mean I was happy with it, but I like working and money.  The stakes are a lot higher for these guys, but so is the compensation (and it’s guaranteed money).  Should you look for another job?  Okay, I can see that.  Don’t want to re-sign here?  Sure, maybe that’s the case.  But I think Mike Grier showed that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the hill.

I am a generally positive guy.  I like this team, and most of the players and coaches.  When I say I want to see the Sabres win the Cup, it’s these guys I’m talking about.  I realize that players and coaches come and go (some cities have that a lot more than others) but on the whole, I’d like success for the home-grown talent and not free agent mercenaries.  With all that said, if Terry Pegula/Ted Black/Darcy (or a new GM) decide these guys need to go, let’s do it.  Now is the time, while the long term contract guys are still young.

Okay, NOW you won’t hear from me much more after this.

Will “The Schedule” Become the Next Great Lindy Ruff Meme?

We’ve all had fun with Lindy Ruff and the players and their constant use of ‘The System”.  “We didn’t play the system tonight” or “We’ve got to get back to playing our system”.  Now, with the goalie stuff going on, we have ‘The Schedule’.  Which goalie is playing tonight?  It’s Scheduled.  Who does Ruff consider his number 1(A?) right now?  You’d know, if only you could see The Schedule.  Is The Schedule a physical construct?  Or just a metaphysical one inside Ruff’s mind?

The Sabres play the Senators tonight, and I heard that Chris Neil might not play.  That’s too bad, because I wanted Cody McCormick or Paul Gaustad to beat the snot out of him.  I think I’ll be home tonight barring anything strange happening.  But I have a wife and kids, so strange is possible…

Pegula, Vanek, and Golisano

On a day where almost every other team played (minus one game cancelled due to the ‘storm’), several Sabres related stories dominated our discussions yesterday.  First, Terry Pegula really is buying the Sabres.  And yes, even Larry Quinn is no longer denying it.  Tom Luongo and Katebits of The Willful Caboose both say thanks to Mr. Golisano, and I’d like to pass mine along as well.  When I first moved up here, as a hockey fan but not specifically a fan of a team hardcore (I followed the Blackhawks mostly because they were good in my old EA NHL games on SNES), I attended a few games pre-lockout in a half-empty arena thanks to handouts given to my Adelphia employee buddy.  I enjoyed going, but it was tough to buy in when words like contraction, bankruptcy, and Mark Hammister were being thrown around.  I had no illusions that a Rochester businessman with political aspirations buying the team meant he would become the next Mark Cuban, but the team stayed, got some steals in trade and FA that helped the team compete, and lowered ticket prices and increased attendance.  All of which improved the in-arena experience and franchise viability, but more importantly made going to the games FUN.  While it’s been a bumpy ride more recently, we should definitely remember how far down they were back in 2003 and how far Tom has brought them.  Thanks, Mr. Golisano.

Amidst the fist-pumping over the ‘official’ sale of the team (press conference tomorrow at noon BTW), was the more puzzling news that Darcy Regier was extended through the 2012-2013 season…and Lindy Ruff turned his extension down but wants to remain with the team.  Curious timing, as this would’ve gone down the first time (?) Pegula tried to buy the team in the fall.  I’m not sure what to make of Regier, though I’ve always felt he wants to be more of a wheeler-dealer but was being held back by those above him.  Perhaps we’ll see that at the deadline this year, and if Pegula is pleased, he can stay.  Ruff, I think, knows he has options after this year if he doesn’t like where the Sabres go after the sale but I agree with the sentiment that he’s more likely to stick around.

We also learned that Thomas Vanek has been battling a bruised finger (as well as missing practice with the flu).  Considering he had 5 goals and 11 assists in his last 12 games, along with plenty of rest time leading up to Friday’s game, I’m not concerned.

Congratulations to Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers!

The title says it all, congratulations to Ryan Miller for winning his first Vezina trophy, along with the NHL Foundation award for his charity work.  Both well-deserved honors, and I’m very happy for him.  I’m also happy that some of the out-of-town media got to hear him give a speech, as he got a lot of praise for being thoughtful and articulate.  It’s cool that we get to hear him all the time.

Tyler Myers took home some hardware of his own, taking the Calder trophy in a landslide.  He had 94 first place votes, and the next closest was Jimmy Howard with 24.  I’ve been banging the Tyler Myers for Calder drum since he made the team, so it’s pretty satisfying to see him up there towering over everyone with the trophy.  Sweet.

One thing that’s always interesting is to check the voting numbers for the various awards, which you can see here.  Of note:

  • Miller was 4th for the Hart, with 13 1st place votes.
  • Tyler Myers got 6 5th place votes for the Norris trophy.
  • Jochen Hecht had a 3rd place vote and 4 5th place votes for the Selke.  Grier, Connolly and Gaustad also got votes.
  • Lindy Ruff had 2 2nd place and 7 3rd place votes for the Jack Adams.

All in all, an impressive showing for our boys, and you can’t help but feel the future is bright for this team.  Here’s hoping for more Calder candidates, and oh yeah, a Stanley Cup in there somewhere would work.