Last season, the Sabres were one of the NHL’s biggest busts in missing the playoffs with a high-priced roster. The previous offseason, Pegula committed nearly $140 million in salary to add talent and re-sign players.
The high expectations coupled with the team’s slow start in a lockout-shortened 48-game season were both factors in Ruff’s dismissal.
Regier acknowledged that Ruff was having difficulty identifying the reasons behind the Sabres struggles. At no point, Regier said, did he feel players had tuned out their coach.
‘‘Communication has never been better, so there were huge strides he had done in that regard,’’ Regier said. ‘‘Unfortunately, it didn’t translate to the ice.’’
Ruff’s 571 wins rank second in the NHL with one team, trailing only Al Arbour, who had 740 wins with the New York Islanders.
Ruff’s ties to Buffalo go back to his days as a player. Selected in the second round of the 1979 draft by the Sabres, Ruff made the team later that year. In November 1986, he replaced star Gilbert Perreault as the Sabres captain.