So, while crying in my milk today, I was thinking about who would be an excellent replacement for Coach Joel Quenneville after GM Francois Giguere finally faces the sad facts and sends Q packing.
Who, of any coach in the NHL, would be an ideal replacement? I considered the coach's track record, the content of the Avalanche lineup and farm system, and the style of play that both would excel at.
The obvious choice, of course, is Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Yes, Mr. Jack Adams Trophy himself. Why, you ask? Allow me to explain.
There is probably no better coach at running three or more scoring lines. In Buffalo last season, Ruff was running as many as four scoring lines, evenly dividing the ice time among 12 forwards. It worked remarkably well. The Sabres led the league in goals with 308 (the only team to score more than 300) and six players scored more than 20 goals each with one close at 19 (Jochen Hecht!). Four players scored more than 30 goals.
The Sabres didn't forgo solid defense, either. In fact, their 242 goals against was fifth best in the East. Not stellar, but not bad by any means. Hell, old d-man Teppo Numminen was +17. Some guy named Henrik Tallinder averaged 21 minutes of ice time a game and finished +19.
It's not hard to see that the Sabres' offense of last season (Briere, Vanek, Drury, Pominville, Roy, Afinogenov, Hecht, Kotalik, etc.) bears striking similarities to the current Avalanche lineup of forwards in speed, skill and depth.
Ruff worked wonders in Buffalo before all his talent took off for greener pastures (or greener contracts, that is). This year Buffalo is struggling because they don't have enough scoring depth to play Ruff's style of speedy, always-attacking hockey. But what the Sabres now lack the Avs have in spades. I can't imagine that Ruff would have any trouble at all coaching in Denver.
Sure, one could argue that a coach who excels at offense in the Eastern Conference might struggle against the stifling defenses of the Western Conference, but that's purely hypothetical and impossible to predict. It's definitely worth a shot.
The problem with this, of course, is that teams can't exactly trade coaches like they trade players. And it doesn't look like "Ruffalo" is going to quit his job any time soon. He's pretty much a Buffalo institution.
The only solution is the obvious one: somebody has to kidnap Lindy Ruff in the middle of the night and bring him to the Avalanche. It's got to be a stealthy, black ops kind of operation complete with ski masks, black vans and night vision goggles. And repelling ropes. Got to have the repelling ropes.
Who's willing to do it? Who among us is man enough (sorry Rookie) to pull off such a clandestine sortie? Please step forward, and don't waste time. If I have to see Coach Q behind the bench one more game I might set myself on fire.