Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — After the Buffalo Sabres fired Lindy Ruff in February, they planned on an extensive offseason coaching search.
Once they saw Ron Rolston in charge, those plans quickly changed.
Rolston was hired as head coach of the Sabres on Tuesday, dropping the interim title he was given on Feb. 20. He becomes the 16th head coach in Sabres history.
"When we first brought Ron in as the interim coach that was the intention, to interview other candidates," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "As it progressed and seeing Ron's interaction with the team, both as a teacher and a motivator ... for me personally it became more and more evident that he was a very good fit not only for the present but for the future."
Rolston was the only candidate considered for the job by the Sabres. He led Buffalo to a 15-11-5 record after being promoted from Buffalo's AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. The team began the season with a 6-10-1 start that led to the firing of Ruff, the longtime Sabres coach. Ruff spent 16 years as coach of the Sabres and 10 years as a player.
"It's both exciting and humbling to be the head coach of such a great organization," Rolston said. "For me, coming in as an interim coach, it's allowed me the opportunity to get familiar with the organization, the players, the capabilities and the potential here."
The 46-year-old Rolston is known for his teaching abilities and attention to detail. He joined the Sabres organization in 2011 as coach of the Americans after spending seven seasons as head coach of USA Hockey's national team development program. During that time, he became first coach to lead the U.S. Under-18 team to win three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011).
He faces a difficult task in Buffalo. Rolston is charged with improving a team that has fallen on hard times after missing the postseason in four of the past six years. Last week at the season-ending press conference, Regier used the words "patience" and "suffering" while discussing the long-term turnaround.