Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breaking Lindy Ruff's Spirit

I realized after writing the previous entry, that I'm not done. I think most of us can agree that something seems different about Lindy Ruff in recent years. This isn't the guy that took a seven seed to the Cup Finals, and it isn't the guy that sent a bunch of goons after Spezza and co.

This is a guy who makes excuses for his team when something bad happens. Like it's okay little Sabres, Vanek/Pominville/Miller got hurt, it's HARD to play through that. Well shit, other teams do it just fine.

Lindy Ruff has a broken spirit. It's kind of sad really, but who can blame him? The guy has had literally everything possible go wrong for him. Consider his history:

  • In 1999, he watches his team lose a Stanley Cup on a goal that should have been disallowed.
  • In 2000, he sees John Leclaire score an inexplicable goal through the side of the net...and get upheld.
  • In 2001, he watches Darius f***ing Kasparitus send the Sabres home on one of the shittiest goals in playoff history after the Penguins beat the Sabres twice in overtime to close out the series.
  • In 2001 he watches probably the second best player in Sabres history dick his way out of Buffalo.
  • In 2002 the Sabres look like they might move or fold.
  • In 2006, he takes possibly the best team in Sabres history to the Eastern Conference finals only to be done in by injuries to Tim Connolly and four starting defensemen.
  • In 2007, the Sabres win the President's trophy only to fall short for the second straight year in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • In 2007, the Sabres fail to resign both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
  • In 2008, the Sabres miss the playoffs the season after winning the president's trophy.
  • In 2009, the Sabres are primed for another playoff run when Scott Gomez injures Ryan Miller late in the season.
  • In 2010, the Sabres up one game to none, take a two goal lead on the Boston Bruins in game two only to watch Johnny Boychuk take out Thomas Vanek, and the lead, and the series slip away.
It's a depressing history that would have killed weaker men.  Hell, it's nearly killed us as fans.  I think in 2007, when Daniel Briere and Chris Drury left, a little bit of Lindy Ruff died.  A little bit of him started to think that he would never be a winner, that something would always be there to stand in his way, be it an unenforced rule, shitty netting, or a staph infection to one of his best defensemen.

After that year, the team ceased to be known as "the hardest working team in hockey."  Players stopped standing up for one another.  Other teams started taking liberties with our guys without fear of retribution.  Some part of our hockey team was lost.

This can go one of two ways.  Lindy Ruff could be damaged goods.  His tenure in Buffalo may have been played out for years, and this team is only going to underachieve until he's sent packing.

OR

Something needs to happen to jar him out of the stupor he's been in for the past four years.  Something or someone needs to start shaking the new Lindy Ruff until the old ones come back.  We're some of the best fans in hockey...can't we do that?

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