Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

February 27, 2013

ROOT: An era comes to an end

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Was Lindy Ruff a bad coach? No, he wasn’t. He was a coach that had to work through a bankruptcy and then a penny-pinching owner. Lindy Ruff was hired in 1998 and general manager Darcy Regier arrived in Buffalo in the summer of 1997. By the time the next summer rolled around, the Sabres were in the Stanley Cup finals. But that wasn’t a Ruff/ Regier team. That was a team that was put together by John Muckler and taught to win by Ted Nolan.

The real Lindy-Darcy legacy started in 2002 when Darcy brought Danny Briere to Buffalo. After the lockout of 2005, the Sabres went to two consecutive Conference Finals before owner B. Thomas Golisano had the team dismantled. With a limited scouting department and no real salary room to work with, the Sabres never recovered.

The Sabres missed the playoffs three of the next five seasons and are in serious jeopardy of missing it again this season. The firing of Lindy Ruff was an inevitable part of the equation and it was something that simply had to be done. The team is listless and lacks energy. There is no focus and the team is persistently out of position. Do you release every player on the team, or do you fire the head coach? Focus and game planning are the coach’s responsibility.

This franchise has had a cavalcade of players come through over the past five years and it is hard to believe that every single one of them was a bad hockey player. The next person up on the chopping block, if Terry Pegula is serious about winning, is general manager Darcy Regier. He has managed to put together a team with a gutless and uninspired core. Thomas Vanek was on television just two days ago saying that he is the leader of the team despite the fact that Jason Pominville is our captain. This team has no identity and lacks the cohesiveness of a winner.

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