By John Vogl
Ron Rolston really wanted to see what he could do in a normal NHL season. This truncated lockout year deprived teams of practice and teaching time, two things Rolston feels he can do really well. Following the season finale, he lamented the inability to do them.
He'll get his chance now.
The Sabres have removed the interim tag for Rolston, who was named the team's permanent head coach this morning.
General Manager Darcy Regier and Rolston will make a formal announcement at an 11 a.m. news conference in First Niagara Center.
Rolston, who took over for Lindy Ruff on Feb. 20, went 15-11-5 with the Sabres. They were tied for the youngest team in the NHL at various points in the season, and they are likely to retain that title next season.
Rolston came into the organization with a reputation for being a teacher after a long stint with the U.S. National Team Development Program, and the club will need an instructor for the young players.
The 46-year-old is the 16th head coach in team history. A big question revolves around his assistants.
The Sabres promoted Rolston from Rochester to replace Ruff, but they kept all of the longtime coach's assistants, notably James Patrick, Teppo Numminen, Kevyn Adams and Jim Corsi. Rolston's assistants remained in Rochester, with Chadd Cassidy assuming the interim head role with the Amerks.
Rolston may want to surround himself with coaches he knows.
Rolston was under contract with the organization through at least the end of June, so the Sabres could have taken more time for a coaching search. It's unclear whether they interviewed anyone. A representative for Patrick Roy said the Hall of Fame goaltender and junior coaching prospect said Monday he was not contacted.
Watch live video of the Sabres' press conference here at 11 a.m.