NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sabres give Rolston interim tag after longtime bench boss fired

  • Print

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Ron Rolston will finish out the season as the Buffalo Sabres interim coach, taking over hours after Lindy Ruff was fired Wednesday amid growing criticism for the team's slow start.

Rolston was in his second season as coach of AHL Rochester, the Sabres' minor-league affiliate. And he has long-tenured shoes to fill in replacing Ruff, who became the franchise's winningest coach over 16 seasons.

Related Items

The change comes a day after the Sabres were booed off the ice during a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg, and after Ruff had finished overseeing a 90-minute practice in preparation for Buffalo's game at Toronto on Thursday.

General manager Darcy Regier called the team's lethargic performance during the loss to the Jets as "a tipping point." And he added that discussions to fire Ruff had begun earlier in the day.

The Sabres (6-10-1) have gone 4-10-1 since opening the season winning their first two games.

Regier went to Ruff's home to inform the coach of the decision. He then allowed Ruff to visit with players as they boarded a bus to travel to Toronto.

Rolston was scheduled to arrive in Buffalo on Wednesday evening and then join Regier in travelling to Toronto for his first meeting with the team. Regier said he'll use the remainder of the season to determine whether Rolston deserves taking over the job on a full-time basis.

Before being hired by the Rochester Americans, Rolston spent seven seasons as coach of USA Hockey's National Team development program. During that time, he became the first coach to lead the U.S. Under-18 team to win three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011).

Rolston is also familiar with numerous Sabres, including centre Cody Hodgson and forward Marcus Foligno. He spent the first half of this season coaching both, as they played in Rochester during the NHL lockout.

Ruff finished with a 571-432-162 record, and was also the active leader among NHL coaches with the same team.

The news of his firing came as a surprise only because Sabres management, including team president Ted Black, had spent much of the past week voicing its support of Ruff. Team owner Terry Pegula was also regarded as a big fan of Ruff.

Pegula, however, was running out of options in his bid to turn the Sabres into a Stanley Cup contender, an objective he made clear upon purchasing the team two years ago. Ruff's firing comes nearly two years to the day Pegula formally took over as the Sabres owner on Feb. 22, 2011.

"The hockey world knows how I and the entire Buffalo Sabres organization feel about Lindy Ruff not only as a coach but also as a person," Pegula said in a statement released by the team. "His qualities have made this decision very difficult. I personally want Lindy to know that he can consider me a friend always."

Ruff was becoming increasingly aware that his job was on the line. Last week, he described the Sabres struggles as being "his mess," while adding that he wasn't done trying to clean it up.

On Wednesday, he abruptly cut short his availability with reporters by hinting that changes were coming because "it isn't working the way we're going." He didn't specify what those changes might be.

Under Ruff, the Sabres made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons and eight times overall.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2013 D2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

ALS Ice Bucket Weather Challenge by Doug Speirs

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings jostle for position to take a drink from a puddle in Brookside Cemetery Thursday morning- Day 23– June 14, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google