As the Sabres play their first game without Lindy Ruff, a local professor with a unique perspective of the organization is taking a look back at Ruff's time with the team. YNN's Meg Rossman has more with Paul Wieland.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Unfortunately, the coaches too often pay the price," Buffalo Sabres’ General Manager Darcy Regier said Wednesday.
And few Sabres fans understand that better than Paul Wieland.
"They can't trade the team, so the coach takes the fall,” Wieland explained.
Wieland, a St. Bonaventure University professor, spent 25 years handling public relations for the Sabres, and dozens of coaches who faced a fate similar to Lindy Ruff.
"In my quarter of a century, the Sabres had 14 coaches. So I was used to writing news releases about coaches being fired and coaches being hired."
That averages out to about two years a coach, meaning Ruff's 16-year tenure with the team was especially significant.
"I think it's a compliment to him,” Wieland said. “I think he's a terrific coach."
Wieland left the organization just before Ruff was named coach in '96, but watched him come up through the ranks as a rookie. Though he said he doesn't buy reports saying the team tuned their long-time coach out, he does believe it was time for a change.
"The professional sports business has only one payoff and that's results and the results have been pretty bad this year."
As for interim coach Ron Rolston, Wieland said he's optimistic but won't be offering his predictions on a Stanley Cup anytime soon.
"All I could predict next year is that they’ll play the season the full season.”