Buffalo Sabres Keep Ron Rolston as Head Coach


The Buffalo Sabres and general manager Darcy Regier believe that last season’s interim head coach, Ron Rolston, is the guy to lead them toward their goal of a Stanley Cup. His interim tag was removed on Tuesday and he was named the 16th bench boss in team history (via Sabres.nhl.com). 

There are many angles to this development, but likely the most important one is the inferences that can be made from the club retaining Rolston’s services. 

The first, and probably the biggest departure from the status quo through the Regier-Lindy Ruff years, is the likelihood of the team being amongst the youngest in the league. Rolston was brought in as the AHL coach in what the Sabres touted as “Sabres University” and his role was stated to be that of a teacher.

If he’s remaining with the Sabres, they must see his teaching chops as necessary, which suggests that the team is going to be extremely young next season. 

That isn’t much of a stretch considering the position the Sabres find themselves in roster-wise before the draft. As it stands, the Sabres are likely to open up training camp with Mikhail Grigorenko, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Mark Pysyk, Joel Armia, Brayden McNabb, Corey Tropp, Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Hackett in the mix.

You could make an argument that as many as nine of these guys could make a serious push to make the opening-night roster, so having a teaching coach like Rolston may be more beneficial than a guy who is going to push systems on the young guys. 

Another inference that can be made is that the Ryan Miller-Thomas Vanek saga will be a fluid situation leading up to and potentially after the draft. 

Rolston leaned on Miller and Vanek toward the end of the season and has stated that both would remain with the Sabres “in a perfect world.” Basically, this means that a coaching change will not be an impetus for getting rid of one or both of the team’s stars, but it doesn’t mean that they will not be shopped either.

Regier has stated his intentions to move up in the draft, likely from the eighth spot to somewhere in the top four. It’s pretty safe to assume the Colorado Avalanche will not be moving from the No. 1 spot, as Seth Jones is likely too good to pass up.

Beyond that, the teams picking second through fourth—Florida, Tampa Bay and Nashville, respectively—could be looking to move down a bit given the right deal, which may involve Vanek or Miller. 

Lastly, fans can expect to see some growing pains next season. In keeping Regier, it seemed they felt they weren’t too far away. Yet, by keeping Rolston, they may be acknowledging they are a bit further than you’d have hoped. 

Regardless, look for this to be a busy offseason for the Sabres, especially now that they have Rolston in place full-time.


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