Going into the season, most people agreed the Sabres would not be very good. In tact, that was the plan all along. The Sabres wanted to be bad, they wanted to put themselves in the position to get an elite player through the draft. They certainly lost, so what was the real problem? Doesn't it seem a tad strange that the team would fire their coach, Ron Rolston, despite this all being a part of the plan?
The fact is that the problem was not that the Sabres have been losing, its the way that they have been losing.
The Sabres have been consistently outworked, out-shot, and simply out hustled. The corsi ratings are horrendous, many of the players are the worst in the league when it comes to possession numbers, and it seems that every single veteran is under-producing. Cody Hodgson has been struggling defensively, Tyler Myers hasn't gotten back on track, Ehrhoff hasn't looked nearly as strong, and the list goes on and on. It was a perfect storm, and when nothing is going right it is difficult to not looking beyond just the players. It was like a balloon slowly losing air, looking at the Sabres hanging their heads on the bench. Behind them stood Rolston, appearing stone cold as always.
Despite being a developmental coach for most of his career, his handling of the young players on the roster seemed consistently shoddy. Few have turned out as planned, and some haven't even gotten much of an opportunity. Often his moves were peculiar, which was the case this week when he sat his top line for more than an entire period. Maybe now Mikhail Grigorenko will get the opportunity to stay off the fourth line for the time being. In a year full of suffering, Rolston couldn't seem to develop the young guns that are supposed to be the future of this team.
In the end the Ron Rolston era in Buffalo was short lived and hopefully at some point will be rather forgettable. Let us not forget that he was put in a poor position, but the longer he was behind the bench the more in over his head he appeared. Unfortunately for him, Rolston won't be remembered fondly, as images of this worse than mediocre team flash into fans heads.
The team had no fire, seeming to mirror the personality of their coach. The Professor just wasn't the right fit for this group, and it was time to move on before it became even more of a detriment to the team. They go a different direction now with Ted Nolan, who is known for getting the most out of his players. Whether this will work long term is obviously up in the air, but for now there should be an added fire under the players as they try to claim a spot on the roster in the future. So long Ron, I wish I could say it was a fun run.