If you know the NHL and its history of coaches, you already know who Lindy Ruff is. But for those unaware, let me explain to you the legend that is Lindy Ruff. Beginning as an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers in the 1993-94 season, he helped the new franchise break ground. Ruff would get his first taste of a Stanley Cup Final, which the Panthers made in 1996. Hired by the Buffalo Sabres in 1997, he would start his long run of being a head coach. Here are the best moments from his time in Buffalo, to celebrate the New Jersey Devils‘ new hire.
Ruff and the Sabres Fight the Senators
If you told me that Ruff was part of a line brawl, I would believe you. His attitude is a big part of his coaching career. It all began in the second period in a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Sabres on Feb 22, 2007. Chris Neil just hit Chris Drury. Drury then continued to stay down on the ice. Drew Stafford then went after Neil, and the two engaged in a fight. After the match ended, Ruff talked to the officials. He felt angry as he wanted a penalty for the hit on Drury. On the next faceoff, things got more heated between the two teams.
Patrick Kaleta and Dany Heatley began shoving each other on the faceoff. Then a pile began to form with players from both teams. Perhaps the biggest fireworks came when goalies Martin Biron and Ray Emery started fighting. After that, Andrew Peters started fighting Emery. While that was going on, Ruff and Sens coach Bryan Murray began to yell at each other from their benches. As they branched closer to the scorer’s table, the refs kept them apart before both of them jumped over. The brawl finally ended, and the Sabres went on and won the game 6-5.
Afinogenov Makes Buffalo Come Alive
When the Sabres played the New York Rangers in the 2007 Eastern Conference Final, it felt like a challenge for Ruff. The Rangers had just tied the series at two games apiece and were looking to take the lead in the series in Game 5. In the late third period, the Rangers were the first team to strike first. Martin Straka, with just under 3:20 left, slapped a wrister that beat Ryan Miller. The refs went to review, however, to make sure it was clear. The goal was official, making it 1-0 Rangers. But the Sabres wouldn’t give up. Under 10 seconds to go, a shot by Tim Connolly was blocked. But then the puck went to Chris Drury, who fired it past Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game.
In OT, the Sabres killed off a Drury penalty to keep them alive. However, the Rangers would commit a penalty of their own. Blair Betts hooked the eventual hero of the game, and he would make them pay. It didn’t take long for Maxim Afinogenov to become that hero. Ten seconds in, a pass from Dmitri Kalinin reached Afinogenov. He fired it and beat Lundqvist, winning the game 2-1. What’s even more shocking was that it was his first game since his wrist surgery. The crowd went berserk. To top it off, the Sabres won Game 6 to eliminate the Rangers.
Ruff Rants Against the Referees
I already mentioned about Ruff’s attitude being one of his best attributes. Well, he had many rants against officials who made bad calls and decisions. Here are two of the most memorable rants by him. In the 2005-06 season, Jochen Hecht got sidelined with a knee sprain, thanks to Darcy Tucker. He went off on the officials during that game on April 3, 2006, where Darcy Tucker from the Toronto Maple Leafs injured Jochen Hecht. Tucker injured Hecht in response to another player hitting him earlier. He used the word joke several times, stating that the league and officials aren’t punishing him for his actions.
His next rant came in the 2010 NHL Playoffs. After losing to the Boston Bruins in Game 4, Ruff was angry once again at the officiating. He asked why Patrick Kaleta got penalized for boarding Patrice Bergeron when Mark Recchi should’ve gotten penalized in Game 3 for boarding Tim Kennedy. He stated that both of those calls were the same and he wanted to know how it was fair to give Boston the advantage in penalty calls. Then he walked out of the room, throwing his water bottle cap on the table.
Looking back on these moments makes me want to see Ruff be a good coach in New Jersey. I want the Devils to have more memories for me to look back on in the future. I think he is the coach to do it. He is so passionate about winning a Cup with a team. These memories show why I believe he will lead the Devils out of this rebuild.
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