Joe Sacco (Michael Martin/NHLI)
Joe Sacco wanted to continue coaching in the National Hockey League and he found that his best opportunity was located in Buffalo.
Sabres coach Ron Rolston announced late Tuesday afternoon that Sacco, coach of the Colorado Avalanche for the past four seasons, had joined his staff as an assistant coach.
“It was never an option to sit on the sidelines and wait. This is what I do. I like to work in the game of hockey, so I’m excited to be here,” Sacco said on Sabres Hockey Hotline with Kevin Sylvester on Wednesday.
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Rolston said he thought Sacco’s experience with the Avalanche would be extremely helpful as the Sabres focus on developing a younger core of players. Matt Duchene and 2011-12 Calder Trophy-winner Gabriel Landeskog are among the talented young forwards Sacco coached in Colorado. Duchene was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2009-10.
Sacco’s club made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2009-10 – his first in Colorado and first as an NHL head coach – and he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the League’s best coach that season.
“We had a lot of young players coming in through our lineup,” Sacco said. “If we weren’t the youngest team, we were certainly one of the younger teams every year.”
Sacco last coached in the World Championships in May, leading Team USA to a bronze medal.
Sacco had interviewed with other teams for head coaching positions, but when those didn’t pan out, he started to look at other options. He could have found a job as a head coach in the American Hockey League, but he said he wanted to stay in the NHL. Sacco talked about assistant coaching jobs with other NHL teams as well.
He then heard from Rolston, and after some meetings with him and Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, Sacco agreed that the Sabres were a good fit for him.
“Now with some younger players being thrown into the lineup in Buffalo, I think that that’s going to be a good situation not only for them, but for myself – to be able to be work with those types of players and having that background with those guys and trying to help them develop into solid, consistent National Hockey League players day-in and day-out,” Sacco said.