By Mike Harrington
New Sabres assistant coach Joe Sacco told me today he had no intention of taking some time away from the game after he was fired following the season by the Colorado Avalanche. He interviewed for the Vancouver head coaching job and was eyeing spots in the AHL as well, before ultimately deciding = to stay in the NHL as an assistant in Buffalo under Ron Rolston.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of working with Ron," Sacco said by phone from Denver. "I've never worked with him but we know some of the same people from USA Hockey. Sitting down with him and talking about philosophies was interesting. He asked my opinion on certain things and we just seemed to be on the same page as far as how things should be done moving forward.
"I'm in a little different role, a different capacity. I'm there to support Ron 100 percent and make sure we have success as a team. I think I have a lot of experience dealing with young players. In Colorado, we were one of the youngest, if not the youngest teams every year so I can learn from my experiences of dealing with younger players and the hurdles they'll face dealing with a long season. You can help guys through those situations."
Sacco met with Rolston, GM Darcy Regier and toured First Niagara Center as well as learning about the plans for the HarborCenter project.
"After speaking with Ron and Darcy, going out there, seeing the facility, the arena. I had a good conversation with those guys," he said. "It seemeed to be a really good fit and I thought it was the best situation for me moving forward."
Sacco said he didn't have specific duties yet but would be in charge of one facet of Buffalo's special teams (Colorado was 24th on the power play and 20th on the penalty kill last year). He said he's going to tackle a video review of Sabres games, especially late-season ones featuring the club's young players, because there wasn't much crossover last season due to the lockout of coaches watching games from the other conference.
Sacco said he signed a multi-year deal with Buffalo. His wife, Tammy, and three children are in the midst of planning their move from Denver, so he may not attend the team's development camp next week.