Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I must have been a little more than 12 years old when I wound up at a charity softball game that the Buffalo Sabres were playing against a local organization of some kind. Larry Playfair was there and so was a whole host of my heroes. I was in awe and I was one of those kids running around getting autographs. It was awesome.
There was a section of bleachers on the other side of the entrance, to my right, where a lone figure sat. He had long blond hair and was slender in build. I kept asking myself if that was Lindy Ruff. I couldn’t tell and no one around me could tell either. By the time I worked up the courage to go over to that section of bleachers where this lone, blond figure sat all by himself, he got up and walked over to the field. Indeed it was Lindy Ruff.
At that time, he was still waiting to be the Sabre that nearly got his eye poked out by Islanders’ goalie Billy Smith. I never knew he would come back to the team as the longest tenured coach in team history. He never struck me as coaching material, but he definitely wound up fitting the bill.
When Lindy took over as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, it was in the wake of the Ted Nolan scandal. Nolan was a fiercely popular head coach that was fired for what appeared to be no reason. Some people claim that they know all of the facts surrounding a supposed affair with Dominik Hasek’s wife, or whatever happened. But the truth was never revealed.
Lindy was forced to get on the phone and personally call season ticket holders and beg them to keep their season tickets. It was almost as if Lindy was the guy that had to personally call every fan and apologize for the Ted Nolan fiasco. What followed was 16 years of ups and downs that finally ended last week.