Lindy Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the National Hockey League, was fired as coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday despite being the most successful coach in the club's history.
Ruff had compiled a record of 571-432-162 in 15 seasons since taking charge of the Sabres in 1997, but was axed after the team stumbled to a start of 4-10 with one over-time loss and fell to 11th among 15 Eastern Conference teams.
Since making the East finals in 2005 and 2006, the Sabres have not won a playoff series and have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
Ruff, 53, guided the Sabres to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to Dallas. He was named the NHL Coach of the Year in 2006. He guided the Sabres to the playoffs eight times in all, going to the East finals four times.
Ruff, whose 13 NHL seasons as a player included a decade with the Sabres, had the second-longest active run of any coach in North American pro sports, trailing only Gregg Popovich of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.