When the Buffalo Sabres put their faith in general manager Darcy Regier to rebuild the organization, his first order of business was making a decision on the team’s first new head coach since Lindy Ruff was hired in 1997.
It would be a decision that spoke volumes about the direction of the organization, and Regier’s own desire to make dramatic changes to it.
On Tuesday, the Sabres formally hired interim coach Ron Rolston to replace Ruff, after going 15-11-5 in a prolonged audition; and it’s a move that tells us a lot about where the Sabres are going.
First off: You can argue he earned the job. As Regier said in his contentious postseason press conference:
“Ron’s situation will be that he and I will sit down over the next week, maybe couple of weeks, re-evaluate the season and have discussions about our relationship going forward," Regier added, "I would add that I think he did a very good job under trying circumstances, but again, we’ll address that down the road."
Rolston coached this Sabres team back to the playoff bubble at a time when it was trading away assets – Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr – and in the swirl of emotion that followed Ruff’s dismissal.
But here’s why he was hired: Because the Sabres are rebuilding, and because he’s someone that’ll never try to override Regier.