Ruff reflects on long tenure as Sabres coach
Former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff made his first public comments Friday following his firing earlier this week. Ruff addressed the media from First Niagara Center. The Sabres relieved Ruff of his duties on Wednesday in the midst of a 6-10-1 start to a lockout-shortened season. The team tapped former Rochester Americans coach Ron Rolston as interim coach for the rest of the season.
Ruff thanked the four owners he worked under, General Manager Darcy Regier, the long list of players he coached over 16 seasons, and team's fans.
"My biggest disappointment is not getting it done for them," Ruff said, referring to a Stanley Cup championship.
Ruff became emotional when speaking of fans' response to his daughter Madeline's illness in 2006.
"The fans of Western New York are number one. They really came to the forefront when I dealt with my daughter's medical condition and got us through a real tough time in our lives. I know there's a 'thank you' [sign] outside from the fans today. I'd like to put my 'thank you' right next to it," said Ruff.
Ruff spoke fondly of his longtime partnership with Regier, saying "99 percent of the GMs in the league would have whacked the coach at a certain time." He talked of the many "tough stretches" the two endured and called Regier "a good friend" and "a great hockey man."
"Darcy came out to my home and when I saw him, I said 'I know.' I said 'Don't say you're sorry. You've been my biggest backer all these years,'" Ruff said, describing the moment he learned the news Wednesday.
Ruff said he "loves" western New York and will always call the region his home. He also said he would like to continue coaching.
"I miss it already. I watched hockey the first night. It's hard. It's a tough feeling. It's been a strange feeling. I've got to keep going. I love the game," Ruff said.
The Sabres lost in Toronto last night by a score of 3-1 in Ron Rolston's first game behind the bench. Ruff said he watched one period of last night's game, found the experience to be "incredibly strange" and had to turn it off.