AHLBuffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier announced on Wednesday night that Rochester Americans coach Ron Rolston will replace veteran head coach Lindy Ruff, becoming the interim head coach of the team with a chance to earn the permanent job.
“He will be the interim for the rest of the season. It will provide him and us an opportunity to get to know each other,” said Regier, who relieved Ruff of his head coaching duties after nearly 16 years at the helm.
Rolston takes over a team that's 6-10-1, and in a 3-7 tailspin.
“I saw his team play in Hamilton the other afternoon. His teams play with structure, discipline. They have a good work ethic," said Regier.
On Ruff's firing, Regier said it was a organizational decision.
“Ultimately it was my decision, but these things are not done in a vacuum,” said Regier, who said president Ted Black and owner Terry Pegula had input on the decision.
So who the heck is 45-year-old Ron Rolston, who will be given a chance to win this job as interim coach for the rest of the season?
He’s in his second season as head coach of the AHL Rochester Americans. More on Rolston:
Rolston guided the Amerks to a record of 36-26-10-4 (86 points) and a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs after finishing seventh in the Western Conference and second in the North Division in his first season in the professional ranks. Rolston became just the eighth coach in Amerks history to win at least 35 games in his first full season behind the Rochester bench. He recorded his first professional victory in a 3-1 Amerks win at Lake Erie on Oct. 14.
In addition to leading the Amerks to the postseason, Rolston and his staff were instrumental in the development of numerous players, as eleven different Amerks were recalled to the Buffalo Sabres over the course of the season, combining for 65 points in 157 total games with Buffalo. Of those 11 players, eight made their NHL debut this season and five scored their first NHL goals, including left wing Marcus Foligno, the Amerks’ Rookie of the Year who was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for March.
Rolston joined the Amerks in 2011 after spending the previous seven seasons as a head coach with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP), where he led the U.S. Under-18 team to three gold medals and a silver medal in four stints as head coach at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Under-18 Championship, including the 2011 tournament in Germany. During the 2010-11 season, he also led Team USA to titles in the 2011 Five Nations Tournament and in the 2010 Four Nations Cup. In addition, Rolston's U.S. National Under-18 Team posted a 12-9-1-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record in United States Hockey League play in 2010-11, helping the NTDP reach the USHL postseason for the first time. In June, he received the 2011 Bob Johnson Award from USA Hockey, which recognizes excellence in international competition during a season.
The new Sabres coach has worked with some of their players in Rochester this season and last, including Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, and TJ Brennan, among others. He's known for being an excellent teacher and making young players better. He'll have his work cut out for him with the youth that the Sabres have in key positions.
Congrats to the Sabres for going not only with a new voice, but a fresh voice behind the bench. It’s a new era – make it feel like one.