NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earlier this week, Lindy Ruff, former coach of the Buffalo Sabres, returned to First Niagara Center behind the Dallas Stars' bench. The Western New York crowd gave Ruff a standing ovation after a video chronicling not only his coaching career in Buffalo, but his days as a player.A couple of seasons ago, Dallas Stars' fans said what they thought was goodbye to Mike Modano during one of the most emotional nights the National Hockey League has ever delivered: And, of course, emotion spewed like water from a Bronx fire hydrant on that landmark day when Wayne Gretzky confirmed he would accept a trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings: In each of these instances, I would expect nothing other than raw emotion from coach, player and fan. Truly seminal times in the the player's personal and professional lives as well as the lives (even if lived somewhat vicariously) of their fans, franchises and league. Ruff coached in Buffalo for 16 years. That's history-making tenure. Modano put hockey on the map in North Texas, roughly a couple of decades after Gretzky did it in Los Angeles and, really, across large swaths of the United States east and south of, say, Pittsburgh. You can't blame Buffalo for firing Ruff, though you could argue ownership should have started with the general manager. But armchair stuff aside, it was probably time for a change. Modano ended up leaving Dallas to play for the Detroit Red Wings, but Stars fans can't feign anger; a green GM no longer wanted Mo. In parts of Ontario, hockey fans still hold a grudge against Gretzky. But the folks who would deface a statue of The Great One, in his hometown for goodness sake, are nothing but long-suffering losers. They're just pissed that he still resides in the U.S. and never put on a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. Gretzky was a kid when he left Edmonton. The franchise was hurting financially and he was being asked to carry an entire league on his back. End of story.
But this goodwill and emotion, channeled through rousing national anthems, roaring applause, sticks tapping the boards and epic video tributes on jumbotrons, has to stop somewhere. I have two examples to present as verbal specimens. And I just can't get past the way fans have reacted and continue to react to these two guys.