Whether it’s a specific moment in time, a favorite player, or a legendary coach, there is something in each of us that keeps us hanging on for next year’s version. Many fans look to players such as Pat Lafontaine, Chris Drury and Dominik Hasek to hold on to. With over 40 years of professional hockey and the historic highs and lows that go along with it, there are countless memories that have molded us into Buffalo Sabres fans.
In many hockey minds around Western New York there is a certain individual who has not only had a tremendous impact on the Sabres organization for many years, but has also given hockey fans plenty of reasons to come back for more.
Lindy Ruff was drafted in the second round, 32nd overall in the 1979 entry draft where he proceeded to play ten seasons with the Sabres, three of which he was captain of the team. While with the Sabres, Ruff scored 102 goals and picked up 285 points in 608 regular season games.
Ruff also managed to collect over 1,100 minutes in penalties over his time with Buffalo. In the early 80’s Sabres fans got a first hand glimpse of the rookie’s grit and toughness. In game six of the Stanley Cup semi-finals against the Islanders, Ruff found himself behind the Islander net as the puck was cleared out of their zone. As Ruff skated past the islander net minder Billy Smith, he recieved the butt end of Smith’s stick to the eye. Ruff immediately dropped to his knees in pain, but once the cob webs cleared, number 22 proceeded to go after the Islanders’ goaltender and showed him what he thought of the situation. While it may not have been a series changing event, it certainly showed the heart and determination that Sabres fans would appreciate for years to come.
Soon after Lindy Ruff decided to hang up his skates, he was brought on as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers from 1993 through 1997. After the season, Ruff was named head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. For the next 15 years he brought his passion and drive to the Sabres while coaching over 1,200 games and totalling over 620 victories.
Ruff is just one of four coaches in the NHL to coach 1,000 games for a single team and in 2006 won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. Ruff also took his team to the semi-final round of the playoffs twice and one trip to the finals.
Lindy Ruff’s accomplishment as a player and as a coach speak for themselves, not to mention that for almost 25 years of his life he has been a member of the Sabres organization. It’s his work ethic and love for the game that make him much more than just another alumni of the Buffalo Sabres. Perhaps sometime in the near future the Sabres will give back a little to the man that has done so much and maybe even raise a banner for Lindy so he can be tied into the Sabres elite.