Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

Black On Ruff, Pursuit Of Free Agents

Darcy Regier may have given the impression that Lindy Ruff ain't goin' nowhere if the Sabres' season continues trending downward, but Ted Black was far from willing to use that vernacular when I spoke to the team president last night during Buffalo's 5-4 shootout win over Montreal.

Black's refusal to declare the coach as untouchable isn't a news flash for folks who heard him echo that sentiment during his radio show Thursday morning.  When I asked him last night if Ruff ran the risk of being fired before the end of the season if the team continued to struggle, his theme was the same.

"We'll cross that Peace Bridge when we get to it," Black said.  "It wouldn't be fair to anyone right now to jump ahead and lay out what we would do."

It's been quite a couple of weeks for the former member of Mario Lemieux's senior management team in Pittsburgh.  After a glorious and somewhat surreal honeymoon with a rabid Sabres fan base which began two weeks short of two years ago, the ugly part of the marriage is now beginning to run its course.

But this is a man attempting to embrace adversity and display a willingness to take the heat.  "I'm a big boy.  It doesn't bother me," said Black, who appears to be the only remaining member of the Big Four of the Sabres' ruling class (Pegula, Black, Regier, Ruff) to still hold a positive approval rating among Buffalo fans and media.

Is this roster good enough to be a contender?  It sure doesn't seem like it, but consider what might have been.  Black confirmed that the Sabres made major offers to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last offseason. 

"We absolutely did," Black said.  "Anytime there's a big name available out there, we plan to be involved."

With Parise and Suter deciding to play closer to home in Minnesota, and reflecting on similar failed attempts to land Brad Richards and Rick Nash, what will it take for A-list free agents and disgruntled superstars with no-trade clauses to desire playing in Buffalo?

"Winning begets winning," Black said.  "Producing a winning atmosphere will get guys to think, 'Hey, maybe I can go win a Stanley Cup there.'  Then it won't be an issue that it's Buffalo."

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]