Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thinking WIth My Heart

A number of Buffalo blogs have recently started writing about the one potential solution to the problem of the Sabres that everyone has, up to this point, mostly avoided: firing Lindy Ruff. I'm not going to lie, it has crossed my mind as well. I think at this point, we're all looking for something - anything - to shake the team out of its ongoing rut of inconsistency and listlessness. I had an entry half-written about the subject. But as I was rereading it I realized, I couldn't finish it and I couldn't publish it because I do not want Lindy Ruff to be fired. I can't even think about Lindy Ruff being fired. I go into convulsions.

First of all, I think it's a pointless debate because the Sabres are not firing Lindy. Everyone knows how loyal Lindy and Darcy Regier are to each other but I think Larry Quinn admires and respects Lindy almost as much. I think both men want to have a winning team in Buffalo but I also honestly believe they'll watch the team struggle and the fans burn HSBC to the ground before they even think about firing Lindy. It is not an option. If Lindy asks to be released from his contract I think they'll grant that - after trying desperately to talk him out of it - but that's the only way he's leaving Buffalo before his contract is up.

Second of all, and most importantly, I'm just far too attached to Lindy to put that out as a serious suggestion. I've written a couple of times now about how I feel about Lindy and those feelings still stand. I get the logical side of the argument: The team desperately needs a shake-up, firing the coach is the easiest and most straight-forward way of making a major change, the players are tuning Lindy out, Lindy's system doesn't work with this team, part of a coach's job is being able to motivate his players, we're committed to these players so they're not going anywhere etc. etc. And you know, a little part of me would like to see how the Sabres players would respond to someone like John Tortorella bursting onto the scene and getting in their faces and turning everything they're used to on its head. I know all of the points above are very valid reasons for looking at a coaching change and I would love to offer a logical response to all of them. I really try to make an effort on this here blog to occasionally put aside my fan hat and try to be a little more analytical.

But it's not happening here. The logical side of my brain will never ever override the emotional side when it comes to Lindy. He's my coach. He's been coaching the Buffalo Sabres as long as I've known anything about them. I think he's smart and I think he's funny and I appreciate that even in the rough times, he always has that dry, mischievous sense of humor. When hockey fans hear Buffalo they think of Lindy Ruff and when they hear Lindy Ruff they think of Buffalo. Lindy and Buffalo are inextricably linked. He hasn't just passed through the city, giving us a few years out of his career. He's been here forever. He's settled here. He's raised his family here. He's one of us. That means a lot to me. It means enough to me that you'll never ever get me to say, "I think we need to fire Lindy." You could talk me into trading or releasing every player on the roster (some more easily than others) but I just can't come around to the same in regards to Lindy. If you tell me, "We can fire the entire team or we can fire Lindy," then I'm asking when the new players report. They're the ones who actually go on the ice and you know what, if they can't find it in themselves to show a little heart, then screw them.

So the rest of the Buffalo blogosphere can be all thoughtful and rational if they must. I'll be over here in the corner trying to think of a way to trade 25 or so players and insisting that Lindy Ruff be the coach of the Sabres until I die. That's just the way I roll.

Lindy 4 Life


Ebscer said...

The rational argument also says that lindy has done well over his time here and will be expected to do well if he stays here.

I'm never one for change simply for changes sake. Something does need to be done to get the players to play hard, but I think a change in coaching would be a step backwards.

Katebits said...

The Ookies have planted the idea in my head of firing Lindy and then rehiring him later once the players have been psychologically dismantled by Tortorella. It sounds like a joke, but it got me thinking about this whole issue in a different way. If Lindy is such an important, intrinsic part of the Sabres (and I totally agree that he is) both he and the organization should be flexible about what roll he is playing. Moving Lindy out of the coaching position does not have to mean flushing his Sabres legacy down the toilet. Let's be a little creative here.

Heather B. said...

Kate, I'm intrigued by your idea but I'm just not sure what else there is of worth for Lindy to do. He probably could be a good GM one of these days but that would mean replacing Darcy. Even if you think Darcy should be replaced, I don't see Lindy being the one to do it. He's as loyal to Darcy as Darcy is to him and I can't see him taking Darcy's job out from under him. I don't think moving him to some kind of associate coaching position would work. Even if he did a good job of letting the new guy take the reins, I think it would be too hard for the players to stop seeing him as the head coach. We've already seen that they're not exactly the most adaptable group. Scouting maybe but I don't know if that's Lindy strong suit or not. I think he would be a great analyst/color guy but then he doesn't have as much contact with the players or the actual games and I think that's what he loves about coaching. I don't know. I think it's head coach or bust.

I do love the idea of firing and replacing him just long enough to freak out the players though. I wish that was doable.

Caroline said...

I don't think Lindy's in trouble yet. I think Ryan Miller said something in an article along the lines of how it's stupid to fire a coach just for the sake of a change, and that the players need to be held accountable.

Here's an article about how Lindy's job is safe...for now. You'll probably enjoy the read.

Heather B. said...

Caroline, thanks for the link. That guy did lose me a bit though when he said we were bounced in the first round the season before last. Hey, guy, we were in the ECF that year. I realize I'm going to have that info on instant recall because I'm a Sabres fan but it's not a hard piece of information to verify. The Sabres also did not get Craig Rivet at the trade deadline last March.

All that nitpicking aside, I did enjoy the read :) I realize firing the coach is often the biggest way to make a splash but I do like the Sabres attitude that going that route takes the accountability off the players. Because I think that's true.

Katebits said...

Heather, I think you are projecting a bit when you talk about their fierce loyalty to each other. Are you, like, hanging out with them at their barbecues or something? :P I mean, yeah, they seem like good friends and partners, but this is first and foremost a business and at the end of the day they have to answer to Tom Golisano, not to each other. I don't know if you saw Mirtle's attendance trends the other day, but there are only FOUR teams trending worse than the Sabres this year. Obviously we're still getting healthy crowds, but you better believe Quinn and Golisano are aware that the Sabres are losing steam with the fanbase.

I'm sorry to be such a poopyhead about your nice post! I know how you love Lindy, and last season I was right there with you, but now...I just don't know.

Ebscer is right of course, if Lindy stays here long enough the Sabres WILL get good again under his watch. He is obviously a good coach. The question though has to become- How many years can the Sabres afford to miss the playoffs? What happens to attendance and enthusiasm if they miss the playoffs again this year?

Katebits said...

You know what? I'm really sorry for arguing here! The entire point of this post was that you think with your heart when it come to Lindy. Here I am being all, "YOUR HEART IS STUPID!" I'm missing the point entirely. I'm sorry!

Heather B. said...

Kate, it's okay! I was going to say, the point of the post was that I'm not willing to think logically at all about the issue but you seemed to come around to that. Of all the posts to be contrary about :P

But for the record, while I am perhaps projecting a bit, I do think Darcy and Quinn will do every single thing they can think of before either of them even thinks of firing Lindy much less brings it up for real conversation. He's been in much more precarious positions than he is now, I think, and yet here he still is.

Mark B said...

I also haven't given the "Fire Lindy" movement much credence. It's an interesting thought that could work but it could also blow up in their faces and seriously set us back with a less competent coach behind the bench. Other teams would be salivating if Lindy entered the open market; he's that good.

And now that I hear Gerbe is up for tonight, hopefully he'll be the spark we need to at least pull out a win tonight and get some excitement built up for our team again.

And yes, Lindy has been in tougher postitions, AKA the bankruptcy years. If he wasn't fired then, I don't think he'll ever be.

Katebits said...

I am veeery tempted to argue with the, "he's been in worse spots than this" point, but in the spirit of the post I will refrain. :D

Don't you love how I write post after post about whimsical nonsense, and the second you try it I'm all, "Get serious, Heather." :P Heh. Sorry about that.

Lee Andrew said...

Why not keep Lindy AND get another head coach. You know, then they can play good cop/bad cop.

GregK said...

Did you guys know that Torts used to be an assistant for Buffalo? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I want to say it was the year Rick Dudley was behind the bench. 1992 maybe?

GregK said...

Here you go.

Who remembers John Gurtler?

Mark B said...

"Who remembers John Gurtler?"

Greg, I've been trying to forget him. But doesn't he do the Bandits games now?

Anonymous said...

I am veeery tempted to argue with the, "he's been in worse spots than this" point, but in the spirit of the post I will refrain. :D

Poo to you, newbie!

(Please don't hit me, Kate. I promise I'll be nicer!)


John (your brother) said...

So, can this Lindy Ruff guy coach college football? Auburn needs a coach.

Heather B. said...

John, did this post mean NOTHING?! YOU CAN'T HAVE LINDY RUFF!

(For the record, however, Turner Gill, who just interviewed at Auburn, is the head coach at University of Buffalo and he's a very, very good coach. Completely transformed a dreadful college football program. Auburn is a whole 'nother level than UB obviously but he's got the stuff, I think.)

John (your brother) said...

John, did this post mean NOTHING?!

I just sort of scanned it.

Anonymous said...

I named my dog Lindy Ruff, so I'm on the don't fire Lindy Ruff bandwagon. I agree though that I've thought about it, but they said it in Penguins game that the game has even changed from the post lockout wide open style. We don't have the right personnel and I think they have certain guys coming off contract that we'll have to see how they handle them this year and then without them next year before Lindy Ruff is in trouble.

Now Darcy on the other hand would shake things up and you wouldn't lose a good coach? And I agree that Lindy wouldn't become a GM/Coach to replace Darcy.

Heather B. said...

buffalosportsfan, I think it's a good point that they're likely to wait and see what happens with the team next year before they even think about doing anything with Lindy. Should be a fair amount of new blood on that squad.

As for Darcy, I dunno, I'm almost more protective of him. Whereas Lindy still has plenty of support, I feel like Darcy's lone fan a lot of the time :) Still... I can see why people might be ready to move him along. But I'll never agree with that either :P