Leadership Lab: It’s Not Personal, It’s Strictly Business

Leadership Lab: Lindy Ruff
No matter what, a Head Coach as a job to do.

Welcome to Leadership Lab, a new weekly post from writer Chris DePiero. As you can read in his bio below, DePiero is as experienced as people get in hockey and we’re excited to give him a weekly platform to provide a hands-on approach to becoming a better leader. Every Tuesday DePiero will share knowledge, wisdom, tips and tricks that everyone from elite executives to passionate parents can learn from. Enjoy!


From “Fire Lindy” to “Sorry Lindy,” the passionate, vocal fans of the New Jersey Devils are making their voices heard this season.

The home opener for the Devils vs the Detroit Red Wings spurred the fans to chant for the disposal of Head Coach Lindy Ruff, they in fact booed him upon his introduction, and cheered new Assistant Coach, Andrew Brunette. The sense as to why they were booing him may be due to the lack of success the team has had under his leadership. Ruff is in his third season with the team, having missed the playoffs the last two season. One may wonder how he was able to continue to do his job with that kind of public outcry.

The answer is simple: Ruff is a professional. He knew at the time, as he does now, that he has a job to do.

Like Michael Corleone in the Godfather says, “It’s not personal–it’s strictly business.”

A lot of coaches out there take criticism, whether warranted or not, way too personal. I realize it is easy for me to say, however, I was one of those coaches who paid way too much attention to fans, and way too much attention to the ‘white noise.’ I took it personally, and it affected the job I did, and ultimately I paid the price for it.

Ruff in his infinite wisdom, has done his job. He was able to tune out the white noise and get after doing his job. So much so that now the Devils have won 13 of their last 14 games, own a 13-3 record and sit atop the Metropolitan Division. Credit the fans for reigning in on Lindy with an apology chant of “Sorry Lindy.”

My sense is that Ruff hasn’t given that too much attention either because he knows that he still has a job to do.

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Chris De Piero

Chris is a Senior High-Performance Coach and has spent the past 30+ years in the game of hockey as a player, Head Coach, General Manager, scout, mentor, consultant and most importantly as a parent. He has done so in the NHL, with Hockey Canada, in the OHL and the OHA, as well as European pro hockey. In addition, he has spent 15+ years as a classroom teacher as well as being in leadership positions as an administrator with a private high school in Toronto.

Chris has coached over 100 players who have played and/or been drafted into the NHL, and 100+ players who have gone on to play NCAA or USport hockey. He has won multiple championships as a Head Coach and GM, notably winning a Stanley Cup ring from being a member of the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012-2016.

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