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“Mike, You Coach!”… Lindy Ruff’s postgame rant

Filed under: Puck Stop

CHICAGO – Last night’s postgame press conference following the Sabres 6-2 loss at the United Center ended with an terse exchange. Caach Lindy Ruff, getting more and more agitated at the continued questions regarding his decision to play Ville Leino on a regular shift during the game, finally had had enough and snapped at Buffalo News hockey writer Mike Harrington, “Mike, YOU coach!”. Then he stormed away from the gathering of reporters.

Witnessing all this happening right in front of me, I was dumbfounded. And horrified. How could a coach behave like this? What the hell is going on around this team? I was embarrassed for everyone involved in this display of unprofessionalism.

Harrington seemed just a bit flustered after the exchange, sort of a pensive grin, and retreated to the work room to do his story.

I can say this. Mike Harrington is a colleague and a good friend. And a superb journalist. He does not function by trying to bait athletes and coaches into saying or doing something and then writing “gotcha!” At the same time, he is paid to ask the tough questions and challenge the people he writes about, and right now everyone is trying to find answers where answers are in very short supply.

The people who cover the team regularly are all professionals, and on paper are unbiased and detached journalists there to do a job. But make no mistake, they are fans too, and want to see the team do well. The Paul Hamiltons and John Vogls and Mike Harringtons of the world all live in Buffalo, and for sure all dream of that one moment and what it would be like if the Sabres actually won the Stanley Cup, and the euphoria that would ensue.

Last night, after this entire dialogue took place, I was getting texts and tweets from friends who know I am on this road trip, asking what the hell went down. I described Lindy’s posture as “a meltdown”. I was quickly corrected, and that description may have been too harsh. Admittedly, I don’t spend as much time with this team as the beat guys do. I am not at practices and morning skates and around the arena, day in and day out. Peter Farrell and I produce a hockey feature for Artvoice, and covering the team in that manner gives us occasional glimpses to these coaches and athletes. But truth be told, I don’t know much about their personas and temperaments.

So this morning I read Mike Harrington’s follow up story at the Buffalo News web site. To Mike’s credit, he quickly diffuses the situation, and puts the entire matter, and his working relationship with Coach Ruff, into perspective. And that’s the class kind of guy he is.

“Mike, YOU Coach!”. That was last night. Today is a fresh new day. Winnipeg will be drenched in abundant sunshine. Our guys will be experiencing the awe and wonder of a new team and new arena that most have yet to see. The Winnipeg Jets are more in the Sabres end of the pool right now pointwise and who knows. This is the day that maybe, just maybe, the boys start figuring it out and climb out of the abyss. At the end of the day, Lindy Ruff and Jason Pominville and Ville Leino and others are no different than you or I. They dress each morning, brush their teeth and go to work. Only difference being they get paid big sums of money to do so, and are continually under the glare and the scrutiny of the masses. The pressure has to be absolutely mind boggling.

Still one funny visual to make one pause and laugh – Mike Harrington coaching? One can just imagine Mike out there, on skates, wearing a Sabres jumpsuit, whistle in mouth, leading the morning practices. Total “LOL”.

It Gets Better. #Sabres

  • If Lindy appointed Mike Harrington as coach, does that mean Terry Pegula will soon offer Harrington a four-year contract extension?