ROCHESTER -- Darcy Regier and Ted Black were both freely tossing around the "Sabres University" moniker today in Blue Cross Arena, and Black went one step further when he introduced Ron Rolston as the "first professor at the University of Sabres." That's otherwise known as the new head coach of the Rochester Amerks.
It's an out-of-the-box hire when you're putting a coach with no pro experience in the AHL, but Rolston has a combined 20 years with the US National Development Team and as an assistant in major Division I college hockey. And he's not unfamiliar to Regier, who said he met Rolston several years ago in Lake Placid through Jon Christiano, the Sabres' director of pro scouting, and has followed his work since with the US program.
"I personally believe you have to be in the forefront of whatever business you're in," Regier said. "In our case, we have for a number of reasons strived to find advantages outside of conventional wisdom. ... I recognized that we first decided to come back to Rochester, the reference to University was largely about doing things differently, taking more responsibility for the players' development and also demand the player take more responsiblity for his own development.
"When we started to look at the model and started to look at potential coaches who could fill that and believed they could fill that type of a model, Ron to me was right at the forefront. He was our first
Rolston said he's been watching Terry Pegula closely since the Sabres owner donated $88 million to Penn State to start a hockey program and build an arena last fall.
"There's not many organizations I'd want to work for in terms of their philsophy, core values, their beliefs in how they want to run things," said Rolston, 44. "Buffalo was certainly at the top of my list in terms of organization, in terms of clear vision on where they want to go, in terms of what they believe in, the values they have and philosophy they have for players at every level. To me, it was extremely enticing."
Regier said the Sabres approached USA Hockey for permission to talk to Rolston and interviewed him last week in Buffalo.
"I feel very strongly that he is the only best candidate but we are going to learn from him," Regier said. "He hopefully will learn from us and it will point to championship teams in Rochester and Buffalo."