After serving as the team’s interim head coach since February 20, Ron Rolston was today named as the 16th coach in the history of the Buffalo Sabres franchise. The announcement was made official at a press conference held at First Niagara Center.
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“For me it’s both exciting and humbling to be the head coach of such a storied organization, especially in the city of Buffalo and what this team means to the city,” said the 46-year-old Rolston. “For me, coming in as an interim coach has allowed me the opportunity to get familiar with the organization and the players. The capabilities and potential here are very exciting for myself. I’ll certainly take great pride and work extremely hard for the organization to get to where we need to go, and where we all want to go.”
Rolston, a native of Fenton, MI., guided the Sabres to a 15-11-5 record in the 31 games he served as interim head coach this season. Prior to joining the Sabres in February, he was the head coach of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the past two seasons, compiling a 63-44-17 regular-season record, and guiding the Amerks to a playoff appearance in his rookie year.
Before joining the Americans as head coach in 2011, Rolston spent seven seasons as head coach with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, where he became the first coach in U.S. history to lead the United States Under-18 team to three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011) at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Under-18 Championship, while adding a silver medal (2007) in his other appearance as head coach.
In addition to coaching at the Under-18 and Under-17 levels, Rolston also served as head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team at the IIHF U20 World Championship in 2007 and 2009. In 2007, he led Team USA to the bronze medal.
Rolston joined USA Hockey after serving as an assistant coach at four different NCAA Division I hockey programs (Lake Superior State University, 1990-1995; Clarkson University, 1996-1999; Harvard University, 1999-2002; Boston College, 2002-2004) between 1990 and 2004, winning National Championships in 1992 and 1994 with Lake Superior State University.
“I think that, starting with when he took over the hockey club, I was very impressed with the work he did individually and with the players,” stated general manager Darcy Regier. “I think that Ron has prepared himself very well over the last 20-plus years. He is very prepared, and has really touched the game in a lot of different areas from junior-aged players, collegiate, AHL professionals, and now the National Hockey League.”
Regier said the initial plan called for a full search in the off-season to find the team’s new head coach. But as time passed under Rolston’s interim leadership, Regier recognized that his ideal candidate was the man already behind the bench.
“When we first brought Ron in as the interim coach, that was the intention - to interview other candidates,” Regier explained. “As it progressed, and seeing Ron’s interaction with the team – both as a teacher and motivator – as we moved through the season 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.”