As the United States National Team Development Program has sent more and more prospects to the NHL, one coach had remained a constant with USA Hockey -- Ron Rolston.
That changed on Wednesday, as Rolston left the USNTDP after seven years to become the coach of the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.
"I am both excited and honored to join an organization with as storied a tradition as the Rochester Americans," Rolston said. "The opportunity to work within the Sabres organization, and to develop players at the game's highest level, is an opportunity that I am committed to and embrace."
It's the first professional coaching job for Rolston, 40, who replaces Chuck Weber in the job. Weber left when the Florida Panthers shifted their affiliation to the San Antonio Rampage following Sabres owner Terry Pegula's purchase of the team last month.
"We are very excited for Ron to join the organization as head coach of the Amerks," said Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier. "He has achieved tremendous success with USA Hockey's development program and he fits our vision for how we want to develop players at the American Hockey League level. Ron is a proven winner and a terrific teacher and we look forward to having him lead the Amerks going forward."
Last season Rolston coached the USNTDP's under-18 team, and guided the U.S. to a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship. It was the third time he's won gold at the U-18 level following championships in 2005 and 2009. He also has coached the U.S. at two World Junior Championships, taking home a bronze medal in 2007.
Three players from his team last season were taken in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft -- forwards J.T. Miller (No. 15, Rangers) and Tyler Biggs (No. 22, Maple Leafs), and defenseman Connor Murphy (No. 20, Coyotes).
"Ron has had a tremendous influence on the continued rise of American players through seven successful years at the NTDP," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations at USA Hockey. "He's going to a wonderful organization in Buffalo and we know Ron will be an outstanding coach at the professional level. We wish him and his family nothing but the very best."
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