By John Vogl
Ron Rolston has added a former NHL Coach of the Year candidate to his staff.
Joe Sacco, who coached the Colorado Avalanche for four seasons and was a Jack Adams Award finalist in 2009-10, has been named Rolston's assistant coach on the Sabres.
The team made the official announcement following a report in The Buffalo News.
The Avalanche fired Sacco in April after going 16-25-7. He guided the Avs to the playoffs in his trophy-nominated first season, but Sacco failed to reach the postseason in his final three years. He went 130-134-30 as the bench boss.
Sacco interviewed for jobs as a head coach around the NHL before deciding to join Buffalo as an assistant.
"He was looking for the right fit of where he wanted to continue, and I think he was really comfortable upon leaving here what direction this organization was going," Rolston said today in First Niagara Center. "He thought that was exciting. He’d worked for Colorado that had a lot of young players in a similar situation in terms of building and developing and teaching. He was excited about that here to be able to come in and really put his stamp on things. That was important. I think it’ll be a great fit."
Rolston said he'll add one more assistant to a staff that includes Teppo Numminen and goalie coach Jim Corsi, who worked for the team when Lindy Ruff was on the bench.
Rolston and Sacco nearly worked together before with USA Hockey. Both were named assistants to Scott Gordon on the 2010 national team that represented the United States at the world championships, but Rolston didn't go because his son was born late. Sacco was the head coach for the United States at this year's world championships and won bronze.
The 44-year-old Sacco played 13 seasons in the NHL, totaling 738 games with Toronto, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia.
The job with the Sabres opened when Rolston fired assistants James Patrick and Kevyn Adams in May.
"They were both outstanding when I got here and all the way through," Rolston said. "It was just part of change. Nothing else. They’re both outstanding people, both outstanding coaches, lot of character. They were outstanding in the transition for me coming from Rochester to here. It was just more of changing things."