During a press conference Tuesday morning, Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said that coach Ron Rolston was zeroing in on naming a new assistant coach. By Tuesday afternoon, Rolston was meeting with the media to discuss the hiring of Joe Sacco.
Sacco, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award in 2009-10, will join fellow assistant coach Teppo Numminen on Rolston’s staff immediately.
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“Obviously we’re really happy to have [Sacco] in the organization,” Rolston said. “[He has] tremendous experience, work ethic. [He’s a] teacher. [He] has coached a young team in Colorado so all things that were bonuses for our organization, along with the character that he brings to the table and the dedication that he’s going to bring here to work with our team.”
Sacco spent the past four seasons as the coach of the Colorado Avalanche. In his first season with the Avalanche – and first as an NHL head coach – in 2009-10, Colorado went 40-30-9 and reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Despite both Rolston and Sacco having experience coaching with the U.S. national development team, the two had never worked together before. Rolston said that Sacco was a head coaching candidate for several other teams earlier in the offseason, but once those opportunities did not come to fruition, Rolston decided to reach out to him.
“He was obviously a no-brainer at that point to bring in and talk to and see if this would be a place he would want to come to and be involved in, in terms of what we had here, the direction we were going in,” Rolston said. “We thought he’d be a perfect fit.”
Sacco coached Team USA to a bronze medal performance at the 2013 IIHF World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden in May. Newly acquired Sabre Jamie McBain was on the squad.
Sacco played 13 seasons in the NHL for five different franchises. He also suited up for the U.S. at the 1992 Winter Olympics and in six World Championships. He was an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2009 and 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships.
“As a player, he was a player that was a heart-and-soul player, somebody that you could depend on every night,” Rolston said. “You knew what you were getting and those are some of the same qualities we’re asking for from our guys at this point.”
Rolston said he still plans to add one more assistant coach to the staff and that the next order of business will be to name a coach for the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate.