BUFFALO – In a stunning move, the Sabres fired coach Lindy Ruff today, according to the team’s official Twitter account.
Ruff, who led a 90-minute practice today inside the First Niagara Center and spoke with the media afterward, was the longest-tenured NHL coach at 15 seasons.
The 13th-place Sabres have struggled mightily this season, going 4-10-1 since their 2-0 start. They rank last in the Northeast Division, seven points behind fourth-place Ottawa.
Ruff’s last quote as Sabres coach, a response to a question about winning with the team’s current lineup, sounds ominous.
“If we’re going to be like this, it isn’t working the way we’re going,” Ruff said. “I think the indication today is we’re going to have to try some things, and that’s what we’re talking about.”
Tuesday’s awful effort in a wretched 2-1 home loss to Winnipeg, a game in which fans booed throughout, sealed his fate.
“I understand it,” Ruff said Tuesday night about the booing. “I totally understand it. I’m embarrassed. I totally understand it.”
Despite the Sabres’ struggles, it appeared Ruff would stay put. He’s tight with Darcy Regier, the only general manager he’s ever coached beside. Owner Terry Pegula has pledged his support, too. Ruff also has time left on a contract he signed two years ago.
But a $65 million payroll and a laughingstock status was apparently too much for the Sabres’ brass.
It’s unknown who the Sabres might turn to. Top assistant coach James Patrick is respected throughout the NHL. So is Kevyn Adams, the team’s youngest assistant. Both enjoyed long playing careers, too.
Check back later for much more.