Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL. He's been calling the shots behind the bench at Buffalo now for 13 years, has led them to the playoffs 8 times in those 13 years, and has an excellent overall record of 526-390-78-72 for a .564 winning percentage.
But one thing that might be getting a bit old is the way he criticizes other teams during a long playoff series.
Last year, he was complaining, or may I use the word, whining, about the Boston Bruins.
Also, remember back in 2006 when the Hurricanes and Sabres were involved in an emotionally charged matchup for the Eastern Conference Championship? Ruff attacked the Canes and called them "arrogant" and "whiners".
He even went so far as to make up a story that the Hurricanes had bottles of champagne on ice in their dressing room in anticipation of closing out the series after game 6 in Buffalo, when the reality was that then Carolina coach Peter Laviolette had a single bottle of "Relentless" wine in his office, which he used for motivation.
Ruff was praised by some for his showmanship. When calling the Canes arrogant and whiners, he was "taking the pressure off of his team and putting the focus on himself" and he was just using the champagne story for motivation. But are those tactics necessary? Do they work?
The veteran coach is up to his old tricks once again as he has chosen to take the low road, regarding sportsmanship anyway. He called the Flyers "whiners" after an earlier game this series. This quote from SI.com.
"They're really doing a lot of whining. I didn't hear any whining when they had 10 power plays in Philly and I didn't hear any whining when the power plays in the first game were lopsided," Ruff said. "But all of a sudden, there's all this whining about, we're getting away with murder?"
So, is the coach a genius for once again, taking the focus off of his team? Or is he foolish for giving the other team some extra fuel for their fire? Or does he just have zero respect for any of his opponents?
Now both teams are deadlocked at three games each and both will be more than ready to go for the deciding game seven showdown tomorrow night in Philadelphia. The "Whiners" are currently the favorites.
While I was in upstate New York last week, (although nowhere near Buffalo), I was inundated with Sabres news, some of which surprised me. If the Sabres do not win this series, Ruff could be in trouble. New owner Terry Pegula said that there would be no immediate changes after he initially took over the team, but he made no such promises for the offseason.
Even though Ruff has done well for the most part, believe it or not, Pegula might just want the team to start fresh with a new face at coach next season and he may have someone in mind. We will see.
Also, one thing that really surprised me was that there was a lot of criticism for goalie Ryan Miller, not only from some fans, but from some radio personalities as well. Some wanted rookie Jhonas Enroth to have a shot in net after their game three loss, but Miller's 1-0 shutout in game four put a quick end to that talk.
I guess that goes to show that any player, in any market, is open to criticism.