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With McCutcheon On The Outs, Who Goes Where In Ruff’s Staff?

06/03/11
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Late Wednesday night, Paul Hamilton reported for WGR that Brian McCutcheon was removed from his position as associate coach under Lindy Ruff (Today, the Sabres issued their own statement). In his report, Hamilton noted that McCutcheon isn’t exactly fired but merely in limbo. He also reported that the two frontrunners for the now-vacant position would be Kevyn Adams, current understudy to Ruff, and Mike Foligno, former Sabres captain and father to Nick (OTT) and Marcus (BUF). Not only that, but whoever doesn’t join James Patrick under Ruff will likely be in the running with Eric Weinrich and possibly McCutcheon to replace Kevin Dineen with the Sabres’ AHL squad in either Portland or Rochester. Check the deets on Adams, Foligno, Weinrich, and McCutcheon after the jump.


Kevyn Adams
Played For: TOR, CBJ, FLA, CAR, PHX, CHI
Currently: Player development assistant to Lindy Ruff with the Sabres

A bit after winning the Stanley Cup with the 2005/2006 Carolina Hurricanes, Kevyn Adams retired from professional hockey. A bit after that, he showed up at HSBC Arena in coaching attire. For the past couple of years, Adams has been a player development assistant to Lindy Ruff and has enjoyed an annual growth in responsibility. It would be expected, then, that as a coach Adams would probably have a similar style to his mentor. Having someone on his staff preaching the same message would be a boon for any coach.

Mike Foligno
Played For: DET, BUF, TOR, FLA
Currently: Associate coach under Randy Carlyle with the Ducks

Known for his leaping goal celebration and fierce temper, Mike Foligno cut his teeth coaching his sons Nick and Marcus when they played for the junior team he did as well- the Sudbury Wolves (OHL). Last season, he accepted an associate coaching job under Randy Carlyle with the Anaheim Ducks. A tough competitor in his own right, his personal style fits in well with Carlyle and the scrappy Ducks. As a Sabre, he had a similar style to former teammate Ruff (albeit with much more talent) and would augment the coaching staff’s message.

Eric Weinrich
Played For: NJD, HAR, CHI, MTL, BOS, PHI, STL, VAN
Currently: Assistant coach with the Pirates

Upon his retirement from professional hockey after a 20 year career, Eric Weinrich was hired by his coach Kevin Dineen to help him run the Portland Pirates beginning with the first season of their affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres. Dineen is Weinrich’s mentor so, much like Adams and Ruff, it’d be safe to assume that the two have similar styles. With Dineen being hired by the Panthers and publicly expressing an interest to stay involved with the Pirates, it’s possible Weinrich sticks with the Pirates as their new head coach under a new FLA/POR affiliation.

Brian McCutcheon
Played For: DET
Currently: Deposed associate coach previously under Lindy Ruff with the Sabres

McCutcheon has been lambasted by Sabres fan over the last few years for his ineptitude as the power play coach, but as coach of the Sabres-affiliated Amerks he compiled some sterling stats blemished only by failing to capture the ultimate prize. Courtesy of Buffalo Sabres Nation:

Former head coach of the Amerks

  • 128-82-9 over 3 seasons
  • Took the Amerks to 2 Calder Cups (lost both)
  • Amerks’ franchise record for most points (111) and wins (52) in a season
  • With Darcy Regier planning on interviewing McCutcheon and James Patrick to gauge interest and his comments regarding McCutcheon made today, a return to Rochester for the Sabres might also see a return to the AHL for Brian McCutcheon.

    Lindy Ruff may not only replace McCutcheon on his staff but also add associate coaching positions as well. In that case, and provided the Buffalo/Rochester and Florida/Portland affiliations all come to fruition, it may very well wind up that both Adams and Foligno are added to Ruff’s staff, McCutcheon takes back the bench boss role with the Amerks, and Weinrich becomes the new coach of the Pirates.

    Now, all of the above is well and good, but what about the power play? McCutcheon was most reviled by Sabres fans during his time as the PP coach, and filling that role is going to be vital this summer. Who could possibly provide that boost on the powerplay? HF Boards member “Sabretip” has an idea: Barry Smith.

    Barry Smith
    Played For: N/A
    Currently: Coaching in Europe

    From “Sabretip”:

    It might sound like a far-fetched idea and unlikely to really happen but, an ideal choice IMO to fill the tactical/technical area that Ruff and Patrick aren’t renowned for would be Barry Smith. He was credited for a lot of the puck-pressure systems and left-wing lock the Red Wings used in the ’90s to win Cups, and worked under Bowman in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit. He’s been coaching for several years in Europe since being let go by Phoenix a few years ago.

    A chance to hire a 5-time Cup winning assistant coach who not only worked under Bowman and Nielson but was the assistant in Buffalo for Ruff’s final 2 seasons as a Sabre. He recently was one of the 3 assistants for Team USA at IIHF championships, running the video scouting duties.

    From Wikipedia:

    Barry Smith, M.Ed (born 21. August 1952 in Buffalo, New York) is an American ice hockey coach. He began his coaching career in 1975 with Elmira College. In 1986, Smith began a long career as an assistant and associate coach in the NHL, working with the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Brunflo IK, and Vancouver Canucks, winning five Stanley Cups along the way. In 2008, he became head coach of SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League. After being a pro scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, he is currently head coach of HC Lugano in Switzerland NLA.

    Just a suggestion from an anonymous message board poster, but a damn good one.

    With Regier’s recent comments suggesting headway in the process to acquire the Amerks, we may see everything play out before free agency hits.

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