Today’s locker room clean out gave a a whole new meaning to the term “airing your dirty laundry”. Earlier today on WGR, Paul Hamilton mentioned to Jeremy White and Howard Simon that players had spoken to him behind closed doors this seaosn about being tired of Lindy Ruff berating them in the room and to the media, mentioning Thomas Vanek. Hamilton speculated that while Vanek would never say it, maybe it’s gotten to him emotionally.Interestingly enough, today at the First Niagara Center, Derek Roy spoke with media and essentially called out Ruff without question. Perhaps, pulling a Michael Cammalleri of sorts?
Behind closed doors, I think it’s fine. You can be hard. It’s not fun, but it’s good to be hard on your players behind closed doors, on the bench to get them pumped up. I’m not a coach, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to be saying it to the media.
Pot, meet kettle.
Personally, I’ve listened to Ruff after nearly every game through the wins and losses. I’ve listened to his segments on WGR and I’ve read his comments through various local sports reporters. I don’t believe Ruff is unreasonably harsh in any public comments, though I obviously can’t speak for what has happened behind closed doors. As a coach, I believe you need to know your players and ride that fine line between too far and just enough. Ruff needs to maintain his integrity, yet still motivate players and hold them personally accountable for their on-ice performances. In doing so, he needs to also be sure he knows how to motivate each player without breaking their confidence or trust in the coach. I believe the problem here lies in that Lindy Ruff has coached these players for too long.
Thomas Vanek wouldn’t reveal any injuries, according to Bill Hoppe. Making excuses wasn’t on his to-do list today, however his blog did reveal some of the nagging ailments he’s been dealing with since January. Yes, January. The same month his production severely tailed off in comparison to the beginning of the season, where we saw him go ten games without finding the back of the net. According to his most recent post from earlier today, “My chest’s been hurting since January, I have an ankle-sprain and the shoulder’s also not completely a hundred percent.” It was speculated since his scoring slump that injuries may be plaguing the otherwise productive forward, and even Ryan Miller mentioned in a post-game interview a month or so ago that injuries were nagging, but not enough to put Vanek in the press box.
With many players expressing their opinions, regrets, and feelings towards the future – some more open than others, there is a lot that can be analyzed for the upcoming off season. Ted Black has repeatedly said without beating around the bush that Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier are here to stay. Do the comments of Derek Roy affect this in the off-season? It’s been common knowledge that Roy has been on the trading block, though knowing he was not 100% going into this season may have hindered his ability to be traded. Today’s comments may have been the parting words Roy has been anxious to get out, knowing this will probably be his last day in the locker room as a Buffalo Sabre.
Unfortunately, if Paul Hamilton is correct in that players dislike Ruff’s approach, Roy might not be the only one with less than stellar reviews of the coach. Maybe Lindy Ruff did lose his players for the losing stint there in the middle of the season and maybe he hasn’t quite gotten them back yet. The ball is in your court, Terry Pegula and Ted Black. We all know where Pegula stood regarding Ruff at the start of the season and through the worst, however if multiple players feel the same as Roy, the first component of a solution might not be blowing up the core.