New York Rangers fans may get their wish for Lindy Ruff

New York Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff may be Jersey bound

New York Rangers fans love to hate. It could be a player like Tanner Glass.  It could be a talent evaluator like Personnel Director Gordie Clark. It could be a head coach like Alain Vigneault (in his last two years in NY).  It could be a boss like Glen Sather.  These days, the venom seems mostly reserved for Lindy Ruff.

Ruff is the lone holdover from the Vigneault regime. He’s responsible for managing the defense and it’s in that role that he takes the most heat.  He absorbs the blame for the Rangers allowing the ninth most goals per game in the NHL to go with the ninth worst penalty kill.  The Rangers bleed shots and display a disturbing lack of structure in their own zone.

Rejoice Blueshirts fans!  Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet tweeted that Ruff is a candidate for the open coaching job in New Jersey.

As much as he is disliked by fans, he is respected around the league. NHL insiders look to his previous record as a head coach when he took the Buffalo Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and led Dallas to first place in the Central Division in 2016.

He has won 736 games as a head coach against 554 losses and his lifetime winning percentage is .561.  Those 736 wins are the sixth most  in NHL history. He is also 66-54 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His .550 winning percentage is eighth best of all coaches who have coached 100 or more playoff games. His record compares very favorably to any of the other candidates supposedly in the running for the Devils job.

If you check out Friedman’s tweet, you will see that a number of Ranger fans are comically conspiring to talk up Ruff’s abilities to try to persuade the Devils to hire him.  In he meantime, his best advocate may be Coach David Quinn who has repeatedly singled him out for praise.

Does Lindy Ruff deserve the criticism?  Statistically, there is a strong argument, but perhaps molding this defense into a top unit is an impossibility.  We’ll only know if Ruff leaves.  As for now, he is still a Rangers coach and he will be the guy making the defensive assignments and running the penalty kill when play resumes.   Stay tuned.

If he does leave, the question is who will be the next target for the wrath of the Blueshirts faithful.  Micheal Haley won’t be around, but there’s always Brendan Smith or Marc Staal.


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