The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 03/24/13 at 12:48 PM ET
Imagine how interesting hockey life would be in Buffalo if a team coached by Lindy Ruff came into First Niagara Center - say, three weeks from today - to battle the Sabres in a game with major playoff implications.
With an opening created this morning courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, that scenario may not be so far-fetched.
What type of team would entice Ruff to become its head coach? Is Tampa a good fit?
There is enough to work with on the Lightning roster, but there would need to be a commitment from the players to buy in to a sound two-way game for such a marriage to work.
That’s an interesting proposition when you consider the offensive talent on that team. Steven Stamkos is predictably their leading scorer, but he also has the worst plus/minus of all the Lightning forwards.
It’s also no secret that Ruff puts as much emphasis as anyone on having a tenacious checking line that can deter the opposition’s offensive studs.
A contact within league circles informed me that Ruff discussed his downfall in Buffalo during a conversation with a former NHL GM this past week. The one-time Jack Adams Award winner said that the departure of Paul Gaustad from his roster was monumental, and that losing a big body in the middle who he could play against anyone made it extremely difficult to get good line matchups.
That makes sense considering Ruff did some of his best work early on when he had relentless checkers like Michael Peca (not big but certainly effective) to throw out there. The Lightning may have that guy in Nate Thompson, affectionately known by Bolts fans as the "Alaskan Assassin", who interestingly had his contract extended yesterday.
Tampa gives up goals at a pace similar to the team from which Ruff was fired just over a month ago, although one could argue that Steve Yzerman should be accountable for much of that due to his anointing of unproven Anders Lindback as his number one goaltender.
Combine all of this with Lindy coaching a division rival? No disrespect intended to Jon Cooper, but it would be a great storyline for Sabres fans and media to follow.
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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.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]