Tag Archives: NHL

New Name For Sabres: Chad Ruhwedel

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When the Sabres take the ice this afternoon at First Niagara Center, they may be skating with a new face.

College hockey’s All America team came out Friday, and UMass Lowell defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was among the first-teamers.

Reports say the junior has left school to sign with the Sabres, but no contract has been filed with the NHL. Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that if a contract can be finalized by this afternoon, Ruhwedel will play this afternoon against the Flyers.

Ruhwedel, 22-years-old, is 5-foot-11, 188 pounds and a right-handed shot. A California native, Ruhwedel was also a Hockey East first-team selection after helping the River Hawks (UMass Lowell’s team name) yield just 2.02 goals per game this season. That was good for fourth amongst NCAA Division I teams. Ruhwedel recorded seven goals, 16 assists and was a plus-16 rating in 41 games for UMass Lowell.

UMass Lowell was just eliminated  by Yale in the Frozen Four. 

Ruhwedel played two seasons with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League before heading to UMass Lowell.

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GM Gibs For A Day

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What would I do if I were GM?

First, I’d call all my friends and then have a crazy pick up game going at the First Niagara Center.

After the dangle, snipe, and celly session, I’d get down to brass tacks.

Ron Rolston told the media after practice that he’s thought about breaking up the Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville line. In my opinion, that’s a very smart move. For those of you who think I’m crazy, allow me to explain.

This hockey team isn’t going anywhere. They don’t put out a consistent effort every time they hit the ice, they’re in 28th place in the NHL (two teams are actually worse), and to reach eighth place is a miracle. So instead of having your three best players on the ice for 90 seconds at a time, why not spread out that talent a little bit.

Who would go where?

Ville-Leino-570x320What I would do is keep Vanek and Hodgson together, and stick Pominville on a line with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino. Then I’d have Drew Stafford hop on with Vanek and CoHo. The reason for the move?

Trade stock.

Ville Leino is a good hockey player. He’s not going to score 25-30 goals a year, but he will create plays in the done and do a good job along the boards. Having Jason Pominville on Leino’s line would give him more freedom and space which would allow him to expose his talent. Leino’s got a set of mitts on him, and when he was with Briere and Hartnell, had all the space in the world.

Drew Stafford is another player that has failed to live up to his contract. Stafford has scored 20 plus goals in only threeAR-130219519.jpg&maxW=602&maxH=602&AlignV=top&Q=80 seasons. His highest total was 31 goals in 2010-2011, which is the last time the Sabres reached the playoffs (that was the year he had four hat tricks, two of them came against he Bruins). That 31 goal season brought Stafford a four year 16 Million dollar deal. The year after signing his contract, Stafford posted 20 goals in 80 games, and so far this season he’s been irrelevant. He’s got four goals and eleven points through 29 games, and has looked terrible most of the time. Two of those four goals have come in one game, and one of those goals was one of the biggest fluke goals you’ll ever see.

If you put Stafford on a line with Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek…I think it’s safe to say Stafford will find the net a lot more than he has this season. Not only that, but he’ll look a lot better than he does when he’s skating with Jochen Hecht and Nathan Gerbe. He failed to do anything on a line with Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, so if you stick him on a line with your number one Center and best scoring forward, positive results are more than likely to come.

Instead of trying to convince yourself that this year is a fluke, which is what Darcy Regier really thinks, you should try and be the best team come April 3rd.

I’d be open to any ideas as long as Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, and Mikhail Grigorenko aren’t part of the discussion. Jason Pominville, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Steve Ott, Nathan Gerbe, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Robyn Regehr, and Mike Weber are all on the table if I’m the GM. If you got a first round draft pick for Paul Gaustad, I’m sure you can get another first rounder for Pominville or even a top six forward in return. Tyler Ennis is another first round draft pick caliber player for a trade.

The reason you keep Vanek, Hodgson, and Miller is because you can build a very good team around that. I understand Miller is 32 and is a big cap hit, but he’s still one of the best goaltenders in the world and he’s showing it this season. He’d be in the Vezina discussion if it weren’t for one of the worst defenses in the league playing in front of him.

thomas vanek sabres austriaThomas Vanek is your ‘get it done’ player, and in my opinion, he’s the only ‘get it done’ player on the team. He had a great start, but as somewhat cooled off after he suffered a lower body injury a quarter into the season. Cody Hodgson is having a very strong sophomore season, and hasn’t even reached the surface of what he can potentially become. Grigorenko’s obviously a young prospect that you don’t trade away.  Christian Ehrhoff wasn’t listed because of his monster contract, and also because he’s a top tier defensemen that you want to have on your rebuilding team.

Moving some players around also gives you room to think about who you might be able to pick up in free agency over the Summer.

Check out GM Gibs: A Look Into Free Agency, which will be posted soon.

Lindy Ruff: A Man Of Class

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On February 20th, the Buffalo Sabres announced that they had relieved Lindy Ruff of his coaching duties. Ruff being fired ended his tenure as the NHL’s longest serving head coach, and second in the four professional sports (Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs was No. 1).  Today, Lindy finally addressed the media two days after being fired.

Just like he entire career, Lindy Ruff defined the word “class” throughout the press conference.

“First, I would like to thank the Knox family for drafting me, and giving me the opportunity,” Ruff said to start the conference. Lindy was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round (32nd pick overall) of the 1979 NHL draft. Lindy would go on to play 10 seasons for the Sabres, and was the team Captain for his final three seasons in blue and gold. Ruff was traded in 1989 to the New York Rangers for a draft pick. Who would the Sabres use that draft pick on? Richard Smelhnik, who would play for several years under Lindy Ruff.

Ruff’s reputation as a player was one Buffalonians love: A tough, hard nosed player with perfect character. An example of Ruff’s toughness came in a game against he New York Islanders in a playoff game on May 10th 1980. Islanders goaltender, Bill Smith, struck Ruff across the head with his stick as Ruff skated in front of his net. Ruff turned around, and without hesitation, tackled him to the ice.

Ruff became an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers from 1993-1997, and was a part of the 1996 Panthers team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Colorado Avalanche.

Ruff was named the 15th head coach of the Buffalo Sabres on July 21st, 1997. Nobody knew a 16 year “Ruff Era” would be born on that Summer day.

Ruff had immediate success in Buffalo. He led the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season as the head coach, and the year after took them to the Stanley Cup Finals — we all know how that ended. The following two seasons, Ruff would bring Buffalo back to the playoffs. One, a first round exit courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers, and a second round exit the following year by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The next three seasons, Ruff’s team failed to reach the playoffs preceding to the NHL lockout amidst the teams bankruptcy and financial problems due to the Adelphia Communications corporate scandal. After the 2004-2005 lockout, Ruff would lead the Sabres to back-to-back Eastern Conference finals appearances. In ’05-’06 Ruff’s defensive unit was crippled by injury in the Conference Finals, and lost game seven to the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina went on to sweep the Edmonton Oilers for the Stanley Cup. The next year, Ruff’s team started out 10-0-0, and would go on to win the Presidents Trophy — the award goes to the best team in the regular season. The Sabres would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year, but would be Unknownbounced out by the Senators in five games.

After that, things headed south for Ruff and the Sabres organization. Buffalo failed to reach the post-season in four out of Ruff’s last six seasons, and wouldn’t win a playoff series since the  ’06-’07 Eastern Conference Semi’s against the Ottawa Senators.

One of Ruff’s most memorable moments as Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres came in February of 2007, “The Brawl”. For those of you who live under a rock, “The Brawl” took place in Buffalo after Chris Neil delivered a cheap shot to co-captain, Chris Drury. Drury would spill blood on the ice, and Neil wouldn’t be called for a penalty. So Lindy decided to take matters into his own hands. The ensuing shift, Ruff sent out Adam Mair, Andrew Peters, and Patrick Kaleta — three of Buffalo’s bad asses. They would be on the ice with Spezza, Heatley, and Mike Comrie. As soon as the puck dropped, all three Sabres players attacked Ottawa’s forwards, and the brawl begun. Ray Emery and Martin Biron would leave their creases, remove their masks, and drop the gloves. Ruff was fined $10,000 for “precipitating” the brawl after Neil’s hit. The City Of Buffalo started to raise money for Ruff so that he wouldn’t have to pay the fine, but Ruff proudly refused the offer — If that isn’t a sign of class, I don’t know what is.

Those were the good days for Ruff, but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The past three seasons, including the 17 games Ruff coached this year, the Sabres underperformed and the fans grew restless. This past Tuesday, the Sabres played host to one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference: the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets beat Buffalo 2-1 and that made Sabre Nation erupt with boo’s, and even chants of “Fire Lindy” started in the 300 level. Ruff explained how he felt after his last game as the Sabres head coach, “To take that step back against Winnipeg, that was a real kick in the gut for me.”

When the game was over, Darcy Regier was walking down the hall of the press box with a look on his face that explained what the future would hold. Lindy would be relieved of his duties.

“I saw him, and I said ‘I know,'” Lindy said this morning, talking about Darcy Regier showing up to his home to deliver the news. “I said, ‘Don’t say your sorry.’ I said, ‘You’ve been my biggest backer all these years.'”

Ruff would go on to thank a long list of people: Owners, assistant coaches and trainer, several players, and the fans.

45521Lindy said he already misses coaching, and will plan on doing it again. He will, however, continue to live in Buffalo, NY.

“It’s a hard tough game,” Lindy explained. “It’s been a strange feeling, but I got to keep going. I love the game.”

He watched hockey last night, and tried watching the Sabres 3-1 loss in Toronto. “I watched one period, and found it incredibly strange,” Ruff said. “I turned it off. It’s something I wanted to, but couldn’t.”

In this predicament, some coaches won’t show respect to the GM let alone praise them. Ruff did just the opposite.

Lindy said of GM Darcy Regier: “I know through 16 years theres probably 99 percent of GM’s in the league that would’ve whacked the coach at a certain time. We went through some tough stretches where he believed in me and said, ‘You can get these guys through it.’ He’s a good friend. He’s a great hockey man. We went through a lot together, an I’m indebted to him for trusting me in a lot of tough situations.”

Ruff saved the last part of his speech to talk about the fans in Western New York.

“The fans of Western New York are No. 1. It really came to the forefront when my I dealt with my daughter’s medical condition, got us through a real tough time in our lives. There was a ‘Thank You’ outside on the fence. I’d like to put my ‘Thank You’ right next to it because it’s a special group. It’s a place I call home, always will call home. I don’t feel like I have anything to be ashamed of or any regrets. Western New York is where I’m going to live. I love Western New York.”

Lindy Ruff had to be fired. It was needed, and we all know that. Aside from the team, the playoffs, the NHL, the media, Lindy Ruff is a class act all the way around. From the amount of criticism he dealt with, to the pressure of winning in this city, to defending his team after taking cheap shot after cheap shot, to officials missing a skate that was clearly in the crease, to his daughters medical condition, Lindy Ruff fought for his team, his family, and this city.

Lindy Ruff, this city will be indebted to you. You’re the definition of class, and you will always be loved in the City Of Buffalo.

Not only are we proud, but we are all extremely lucky to call you a fellow Buffalonian.

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Sabres Recall Adam Pardy

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Adam Pardy, who’s played in 183 NHL games, thought he would have a starting job with the defensive unit. With a plethora of defenseman within the organization, he was denied a spot.

Now with injuries to Andrej Sekera and Robyn Regehr, and the rest of the defense playing horribly, a spot has opened up. Pardy’s name has been called. He has one goal and three points in five games down in Rochester.

The 6 foot 4 226 pounder will play his first game as a Sabre tomorrow night in Ottawa. Ruff has yet to announce who will come out of the lineup.

Pardy will provide reinforcement for a blue line struggling without Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera. There’s a good chance that Christian Ehrhoff is hurt, which is the worst news Sabres fans can hear right now. Ehrhoff has been their best defenseman hands down through the first nine games. Lindy Ruff said two of the five players who skipped the optional skate today in Buffalo — Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott, Jochen Hecht and Ehrhoff — are doubtful for Tuesday.

Ehrhoff, however, played the entire game Sunday against Florida, including the last shift of the game.

Buffalo has given up 33 goals in their nine games…so they could use Pardy’s help.Pardy1

I’m excited to see what Pardy will bring to the table. I liked what I saw at the Blue/White scrimmage before the season started, and I believe Pardy will be a positive addition to the lineup.

You can’t coach size or NHL experience. If Pardy plays well enough, he’ll stay in the lineup. Let’s face it, nobody on that blue line has really played well enough to stay on the roster with the exception of Christian Ehrhoff.

WGR Sports Radio 550’s Matthew Coller, who cover’s the Amerk’s, made a comment about Pardy via Twitter. — You can follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewWGR

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