I always assumed that Lindy Ruff was kind of like the pope or a Supreme Court justice in Buffalo: He would hold his job until he died.
Well, we found out that was not true last week. On Feb. 20, the Sabres relieved Ruff of his duties as head coach and named Ron Rolston interim coach.
OK, I’m kidding about Ruff having lifetime tenure—I mean, even the pope gets tired after a while (just ask Benedict)—but he was there for 15 years. Fifteen years!
How long ago was that? Well, at the time Ruff was hired, the Hartford Whalers had just moved to Carolina, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the Western Conference and fans that watched hockey on television saw a glowing puck.
The Predators, Thrashers, Blue Jackets and Wild didn’t even exist. (Well, the Thrashers don’t exist any more but…).
So if a guy that has held his position that long can be fired after a slow start, what does that mean for other coaches in the league? Is Darryl Sutter on the hot seat in Los Angeles after winning the Cup last year? Does Minnesota part ways with Mike Yeo after acquiring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason? And if the Predators don’t make the playoffs, does Barry Trotz get shown the door in Nashville?
I’m going to preach patience. It’s a shortened season: There were no training camps to build team camaraderie and there are more games in a shorter period of time, which has led to more injuries throughout the league.
Still, the head coach often gets the ax when a team is not winning and I find it hard to believe that somebody else isn’t going to get canned before the season is through.
I mean if it can happen to Ruff, it can happen to anybody.