There’s a lot of rumblings right now about Ron Rolston, and how he needs to be fired, even after last night’s surprise victory in San Jose. At this point in time, I really can’t jump on this bandwagon, nor do I plan on it. Rolston is starting to look more and more like a scapegoat to take the blame.
Why, you ask? I’ll get to that.
I’ve got several reasons for not being willing to jump down Rolston’s throat with this team. The first of which being, how can we assess a coach during a) a rebuild and b) not even having 1 full NHL season under his belt? I don’t think that anyone in their right mind can. It’s understood that at this point in time, the team needs to be developed and taught. In an ideal situation, the Sabres start to look better as the season goes on. They may not be winning a ton of games, but they aren’t going to be embarrassed every night.
Ron Rolston came into a miserable situation last year. Everyone seems to forget that he kept the Buffalo Sabres in the playoff hunt until the dying days of the regular season last year. Granted, it was a long shot, but Buffalo was still, mathematically, in it. This year, the situation is 10 times worse. What do fans expect?
My other issue is that Rolston isn’t the guy putting together this team. Darcy Regier is. Regier is making the moves and wheeling and dealing. I’ve always felt that Darcy is just kind of doing his thing and doesn’t consult with the coach. Personally, I think a GM and coach need to be just about attached at the hip. They need to work together and I honestly think that it’s not happening. I felt that way when Ruff was head coach as well. The GM needs to know what the coach needs for his team, and then get it. I feel as though Darcy gets locked onto specific players, and then gets them, regardless of how they fit on this team.
We can’t blame Rolston for the players on the ice. He’s just dealing with the cards that Regier dealt him. Remember, players like Stafford, Ennis, Myers, Leino... that’s all Regier’s work. People were having issues with how they played prior to Rolston getting here.
If Rolston is here to develop this team, people need to accept the fact that development takes time. This is still a very young team. Several players are in way over their heads right now, and they look like it. It’s Rolston’s job not necessarily to get wins, but to help these kids improve every single night. If the team still looks horrid in 1-2 years, then yes, Rolston deserves to go.
Then, the Sabres make things more interesting by hiring Randy Cunneyworth to
be a scout for the team. We all know that he has coaching experience as well. There’s a lot of buzz that he is here to potentially step in for Rolston, despite Regier saying otherwise.
Again, this is just more proof that a lot of people are calling for Rolston’s head.
This leads me to an interesting tweet that I read last week from Matt Barnaby. Here’s what he said;
“Had great conversation within Sabres org yesterday. Confirmed a lot of what I already knew. Really think they need to bottom out to be good. Coach is there to develop... probably not long term...”
That was posted on 11/1/13.
SO ok, if Rolston isn’t here long term, why the heck is he here? If what Barnaby said is true, and he’s not here long term, it seems like a waste of time to me. Any new coach, if and when that comes, they have to start from scratch as well. We all know that different coaches have different styles of play. So, all this development that Rolston is technically here for is for naught.
So again, why is Rolston here? Simple. Scapegoat.
I’m real comfortable with this concept right now. Darcy is going to be able to use him to blame for the results. I can hear him now; “We decided we needed someone new to help bring these players along in this rebuilding process.”
Can’t you hear Darcy saying that?
Well, the problem still remains, and that’s Darcy. The other problem, is that all the players who couldn’t deliver for Rolston, will still be wearing the Sabres blue and gold. By being able to blame Rolston for the outcome, Darcy buys himself more time in Buffalo. Everyone conveniently forgets that wait, several of these players couldn’t perform for Ruff either. Eventually, you’ll run out of coaches to blame.
We all know that Darcy needs to go. 16 years of failed results speak for themselves. However, not even 1 year of failed results and people want Rolston to be canned? Doesn’t quite seem right to me.
So what would I like to see happen? Let’s state the obvious... Darcy gets fired. I think the real fun starts after that. I would like to see what Rolston can do with a new GM and a new direction with the Buffalo Sabres. Then, if and when that takes place, if Rolston still struggles, improvements don’t happen, then he gets fired.
But not now.
Rolston’s success cannot be measured in wins and loses at this point. His success will be measured over time. I said at the start of this season, that I want to see the Buffalo Sabres playing better around the time of the Olympics. By the end of this season, I’d like to see several players start to step up and show that they belong in the NHL. If that happens, I’d consider this season a success. However, it will take time.
Unfortunately, I don’t see Rolston getting this opportunity. When this team hits their bottom, it won’t be Regier who goes. Odds are on Rolston taking the blame for what Darcy has given him.
But hey, less than 1 full NHL season is enough time to assess a coach who is dealing with the disaster dealt to him by Darcy.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather give a coach who is getting a fresh start in the NHL a chance instead of a GM whose had 16 years to win a Cup and hasn’t even come close since 1999.
But, that’s just me.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB I live chat during games, (generally pretty sarcastic as of late), however these West Coast games are a little tough. I know I'll definitely be up on Friday night for the Ducks game… We'll see about the game against the Kings.
As always, thanks for reading!