The Buffalo Sabres aren't going to fire Coach Lindy Ruff this offseason, despite missing the cut for the Eastern Conference playoffs and failing to meet the expectations placed on them before the season.
What's clear, however, is that the relationship between Ruff and the Sabres' core players needs addressing.
Maybe that means a change in style from a stubborn coach. Maybe that means another member of the core joins Tim Connolly and Paul Gaustad as former Sabres.
But something needs to change in this dynamic.
Lindy Ruff made no bones about how he feels about this season, his core group and a missed opportunity, "Oh for sure. I think you've got to look at it that way. We can't look at it any other way, we put it on the core group of players and for me it's a tough situation to be in because we battled hard to get back, but we didn't get there." Ruff added, "Guys had chances to make a difference and didn't make a difference."
As the Sabres packed up their gear, one member of that core spoke up about Ruff using the media to voice his displeasure with veteran players — center Derek Roy.
"We're all in it together. I don't think pointing fingers is … everybody, from the Day 1, worked hard together. We did some good things. We did some bad things," he said (video here). "To be pointing fingers right now is tough."
If he believes Ruff has been tough on him and the other core players, does it go too far?
"Behind closed doors, it's fine. You can be hard. It's not fun, but it's good to be hard on your players," he said. "I don't know, I'm not a coach, but I don't think it's the right thing to be saying it to the media, to you guys."
WGR reporter Paul Hamilton appeared on "The Howard Simon Show" this morning and said Derek Roy "has to have played his last game as a Sabre" considering his play, but that Roy may not be the only veteran player to feel that way.
"I hear the rumblings" said Hamilton. "The players aren't going to say it publicly, but they're starting to get tired of Lindy Ruff's act. It's the constant berating inside the room, and the constant berating in the media. Thomas Vanek's never gonna say it, but I just wonder if he had just gotten tired … he's a main target of Ruff."
Roy said he and Ruff have a good relationship, and that he feels the criticism is constructive: "He expects a lot of me. To be the hardest working player on the team," said Roy.
But he also said that during the course of a season, players have highs and lows and that "you need somebody to tell you what you're doing wrong." Roy mentioned coaches using video clips to break down their games, explain what needs adjusting.
Does Ruff do that?
Roy sighed and looked to the ceiling. "I mean, there's different ways [to coach]."