Aside from the fact that this is going to be a very long season in Buffalo in which the rookies will be developing, one thing people are starting to realize is that Ron Rolston is not the right coach to be directing the Buffalo Sabres. Now I was a supporter of Rolston leading the Sabres through the rebuild, but after watching the first 6 games and seeing the Sabres and Rolston in action, I’m starting to doubt that Rolston is the right guy.
There seems to be something about Buffalo management (Darcy Regier) that refuses to look outside it’s own organization for coaches. When Lindy Ruff was given the boot last season, Rolston took over on an interim basis and did a decent job turning a 6-10-1 team into a 15-11-5 team. Wanting to see what Rolston could do on a full-time basis, the interim tag was removed and he was named the head coach of the Sabres. Rolston had a reputation as a teaching coach, someone who can help players learn their role and the game and on paper that’s sounds like the perfect coach for a young, rebuilding team no? Wrong.
So far Darcy Regier‘s latest experiment is failing badly. It is so crucial to make sure a team has the right coach behind the bench. Look around the league; Patrick Roy has taken the Avalanche from last place to a tie for 1st in the West. Sure the Avalanche have Nathan MacKinnon, but he hasn’t been contributing all that much. They have the same type of young team the Sabres do, but they got a passionate coach and look at their turnaround. Another example would be the Anaheim Ducks who weren’t playing well until Bruce Boudreau showed up on the scene, now they’re one of the best teams in the West. I don’t care what type of team you have or how many rookies you have, winning is possible with a solid coach; the right type of coach will get the team to play hockey-period!
Rolston has been completely unable to rally the Sabres together as a team and as a result they don’t look like a team at all. Let’s be honest for a moment, we all expected this team to lose a lot this season and to their credit they’re doing just that. What is so upsetting to the fans is the product on the ice, the team looks completely lost out there and that’s a direct product of the coach.
Aside from the losing, the horrible defencive zone coverage and the dismal powerplay, Rolston’s lack of passion is really hurting the Sabres. Let’s go back to Patrick Roy for a moment. Remember his memorable game against the Ducks last week, when he knocked the glass over standing up for his star rookie? His players loved it. Was it a little over the top? Perhaps and he did get in trouble for it, but he earned the respect of his players because he stood up for them. Roy stood up for his team and his players love him for doing so. Like Roy or not he brings fire and passion to his coaching and as a result the Avalanche are looking a lot better.
Now back to Rolston. When the Sabres don’t get a call, a player gets hit awkwardly or there is a controversial call against them you don’t see Rolston making a scene. Instead you see him leaning against the glass behind the bench with a scowl as he glares at the referee.
There’s little yelling or pleading a case for his team. Rolston shows no passion or fire behind the bench and that flows right down to the players. The guys on the bench feed off the energy of the coach, if the coach doesn’t show any they aren’t going to have any when they step onto the ice. Why do you think the Sabres have such a difficult time in the first period? There is no one to get them fired up or motivated to go play hockey.
It’s becoming more and more clear that Rolston is in over his head and for a coach that is supposed to be a mentor for young players, he’s not treating those young guys right. He can’t seem to manage the line-up and continually blames Mikhail Grigorenko and Johan Larsson for not stepping up despite being buried on the 3rd and 4th lines. Give the kids a chance to develop and give them some talent to play with! You never know, putting the young kids with some solid talent might help the Sabres actually score goals.
We’re only 6 games into an 82 game campaign but fans have already seen enough of Ron Rolston and are tired of the act. He portrays no passion, wont stand up for his team, can’t motivate them and has failed to manage the roster. The Sabres don’t look anything like a team and it’s because they have no one leading the ship.
Do you think Ron Rolston is the right guy to be coaching the Buffalo Sabres? Let me know in the comments.