TSN's Darren Dreger first reported the news on Twitter:
Sabres announce firing of Lindy Ruff. Players liked and respected Lindy, but message wasn't getting through anymore.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 20, 2013
Ruff had been the head coach for the Sabres since the 1997-98 season, making him the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL prior to this news. In that time, he reached the postseason eight times, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals once.
Ruff is the 2nd longest tenured coach in the 4 major pro sports leagues, behind only Gregg Popovich, who began coaching the Spurs in 96 #TSN— NHL on TSN (@NHLonTSN) February 20, 2013
Unfortunately, he was no longer having the same level of success with the squad.
Last season, Buffalo narrowly missed the playoffs, finishing three points behind the Ottawa Senators for the final spot in the Eastern Conference. This year has been even worse as the squad started with a 6-10-1 record.
Only two teams in the east had fewer points than the 13 points of the Sabres, and both of those squads had played two fewer games.
The Sabres were able to score efficiently, but they ranked 26th in the NHL in goals against. Their power-play percentage of 12.9 was also second worst in the league.
When asked about the struggles last week, Ruff told the media, "It's on me to clean up this mess. And I'm not done trying" (via USA Today).
It appears that the ownership was also done waiting for the turnaround to come.
Before coaching, Ruff was a player that spent 12 years in the NHL. Besides a few years with the New York Rangers, he spent the rest of his career playing in Buffalo.
Unfortunately, his longtime relationship with the franchise has come to an end. Hopefully, the 53-year-old coach will be able to find another position after a successful stint with his old team.