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Sabres Fans Willing To Pay Coach's Fine

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AP
Don't worry, Lindy, Buffalo Sabres fans are prepared to pick up your $10,000 fine from the NHL.

That's the message Lindy Ruff received Monday when at least two separate fan-based fundraisers were launched to pay the fine against the coach for his role in a wild brawl that broke out during a game against Ottawa last week.

"Put down the pen, put away the checkbook. This one's on us," said Chris Phillips, co-owner of a Buffalo-area pizza parlor, who plans to donate 10 percent of every sale toward what he called, The Lindy Ruff Fine Fund.

"I know Lindy's got the means to pay. But it's just kind of an outrage," Phillips said. "This is our way of supporting the team."

Phillips is among growing group of Sabres fans unhappy with the league for choosing not to penalize Ottawa's Chris Neil, who knocked out and bloodied Sabres co-captain and leading scorer Chris Drury with a blindside hit during Buffalo's 6-5 shootout win over the Senators on Thursday.

Ruff was fined for helping spark the brawl, which started after the ensuing face off, by sending out his three toughest forwards against Ottawa's top line. Ruff also acknowledged he was at least thinking, "Go out and run 'em," when he sent out his players.

"Any coach would've done the same thing," Phillips said.

Sabres fan Pat Ruffino had the same idea when he launched his own fundraiser, which will involve a rally at another Buffalo pizza parlor scheduled for March 5.

"It's to send a message to the NHL," Ruffino said, questioning why the league did not penalize Neil for what the Sabres have described as a vicious blow to the head. "(The league) made the statement that this action was in the standard of play, which obviously, coach Ruff didn't think it was. And the fans support him in that. It's not good for hockey."

Ruff smiled when asked about the fundraisers after practice Monday.

"For the fans to step in is incredible," Ruff said. "But at the end of the day, I'm responsible for what I've done, and they're trying to cover my tracks, which is good, I guess."

Ruff said whatever money raised will not go toward paying the fine, but instead will be donated to charity.

The Sabres issued a statement released on their Web site, asking fans not to donate money to Ruff or the team.

"It certainly is a wonderful gesture by our fans to want to assist Lindy through various fundraisers," the statement read. "But the team will pay the fine."

Both Phillips and Ruffino are prepared to donate any money raised to the charity of the Sabres choosing.