After an exhaustive search for a head coach, the Sabres have named their man. Ron Rolston will remain behind the bench for the Buffalo Sabres in the upcoming years. However, some individuals seem to be up in arms about this.
I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
Let’s look at this team that he had to coach. They weren’t exactly a team of all-stars. He came in, and took a team that was playing sub-par hockey, and got them into the playoff race. We all know that it was a long shot to make the playoffs, but Buffalo was in it until fairly late in the NHL season. That alone was an accomplishment for Rolston.
Plus, the Sabres are a very young franchise. Rolston has done a lot of work with developmental teams, younger players, and has managed to get the most out of his players on a regular basis. He did a great job with the Amerks, and he came up to Buffalo as a result. While the outcome wasn’t mind numbing, the team at least looked a little better once he took the helm from Lindy Ruff.
Now, I know there’s a lot of speculation about the Sabres not interviewing certain coaches, and not waiting until coaches are presumed to be fired, like Tortarella from the Rangers or Vigneault from the Canucks. First, it’s a little naive to actually think these guys would go from coaching their teams, to the Sabres. They’re not even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as the Sabres. Plus, while Tortarella I would consider as a head coach, I wouldn’t want to even think about Vigneault coming here from the Canucks. No Cups, and the past 2 season’s that his team has made the playoffs, they’ve gotten eliminated pretty quickly. I hate saying it, but the Canucks past 2 playoff series have been worse than the last 2 times the Sabres made the playoffs. Right now the Canucks are poised to be eliminated tonight. So why would we want these coaches to come do a rebuild?
I understand wanting to bring in another coach like Patrick Roy, who has a history with Grigorenko. I even understand trying to in another coach who has experience rebuilding a team. However, there’s one thing that Rolston has with all of the players in Buffalo’s system;
He knows them better than any other coach coming in. He coached several of the Sabres up-and-comers while in Rochester, including Corey Tropp, Zemgus Girgensons, and Nick Tarnasky. He coached several of the Sabres players who came up this season, including Flynn, Foligno, Hodgson, Porter, Pardy, and Pysyk. He coached them in the AHL and NHL this year. Even the veterans came out today and shared their support for Rolston becoming the head coach. Steve Ott presented as being very excited for Rolston taking over head coaching duties on a permanent basis.
There’s one thing that worries me when it comes to moving forward with the new regime (behind the bench) in Buffalo. We all know that I’m not a fan of Darcy, but I’m going to put that aside for now. A few things need to happen while we move forward with Rolston as head coach. I’ll start with Rolston, then add in Darcy.
Rolston needs to identify what his game plan is going to be for the Buffalo Sabres. This needs to be developed over the upcoming weeks as the NHL playoffs continue to progress. That way, he can begin to assess the players that will play well in his system, and those that won’t. I’m a firm believer that certain players will play well in any city. Other players play well in a certain system, and can’t play in others. Rolston needs to identify what players play well in his system, and who can adjust to it.
Now enters Darcy. I think the GM and coach of any franchise need to be intertwined when it comes to bringing in free agents, resigning players, and trades. If say, Tyler Ennis isn’t going to fit into Rolston’s style, Darcy needs to know that and plan accordingly. Again, I come back to the line from the movie Miracle; “I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones”. Same philosophy. In this situation, Darcy needs to include Rolston in bringing in new players, and shaping this team. The team must be shaped to meet Rolston’s needs to put a competitive team on the ice. In the end, Rolston needs to give the yea or nay on players. It’s Darcy’s job to bring in the players that Rolston needs. Not bring in the players that Darcy has been drooling over.
Last season, I called for Ruff to be fired, Rolston be appointed to interim coach, and if he did well enough, make him the permanent coach. I was off by a season, but it seems we’ve finally wound up in this position. My train of thought back then was that if Rolston could do ok with part of a season, he deserves a shot as permanent head coach.
Well now he’s got it. Let’s see what he can do.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB Player analysis will start this upcoming weekend... Not sure who I’m starting with... I will be focusing on the pros and cons of each player, and look at whether they may have a future in the Sabres rebuilding process.