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Rolston on Sabres: ‘We’re the team that blinks first when you have a stare down’

Feb 22, 2013, 2:26 PM EDT


In the wake of his first game as Buffalo Sabres head coach — a 3-1 loss to Toronto — Ron Rolston offered up a harsh assessment of his club.

“What happens right now with our hockey team,” Rolston told John Vogl of the Buffalo News,” is we’re the team that blinks first when you have a stare down.”

Interesting statement, that.

Though fresh on the job, Rolston has now twice taken aim at what he perceives to be character flaws within the Sabres room.

Here’s what he had to say prior to the Leafs game, courtesy the Globe and Mail:

If Ron Rolston delivered the same message to the players as he did to the media in his first full day as the new head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, then they were basically told they are a lazy bunch.

“From what I saw, it was just a lot of shortcuts,” Rolston said Thursday morning, a few hours before his first NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, when he was asked what he thought the trouble is with the struggling Sabres.

By shortcuts, Rolston said, he meant players “resting” during their shifts, “stuff you have to eliminate if you want to be a good team.”

The Sabres’ performance on Thursday did little to endear them to the new head coach.

While Rolston said he thought they “got better in some areas,” the team was outplayed in the final two periods by a Leafs squad that, according to head coach Randy Carlyle, simply wore Buffalo out.

“Once we can get on that forecheck and continue to throw that puck in and come at a team in waves, we can be an effective in grinding teams down,” Carlyle said.

It’ll be interested to see what, if any, changes Rolston makes in the coming days.

The Sabres are at home on Saturday to face the Islanders, then begin one of their toughest stretches of the season — six of their next seven games will be on the road, including a four-game trip against the Rangers, ‘Canes, Devils and Flyers from Mar. 3-10.

  1. colby7 - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Its a perfect fit for Cody “Score 1 goal and go -3 on the night” Hodgson. Buffalo seems like everyone is trying to score points but they dont seem like much of a team to me.

  2. zetaone - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Vanek is one of the biggest offenders of “being lazy” and “resting during their shifts”. For the last 5 years, Vanek has delighted and frustrated me to no end. He never plays to his full potential, and skates as if his legs are made of stone.

    However because of his scoring prowess, he never receives criticism on his work ethic from the fans or Buffalo media.

    The Sabres as a whole just make super lazy plays. It becomes magnified on power plays. One guy will try to skate from his blue line while the other 4 guys are standing still at the opponents blue line, he will dump the puck, the opposing defender will calmly skate towards the puck and flip it out of the zone. Rinse and repeat until the player is out of the box.

    People also try to lay the majority of blame on the defense (Ehrhoff and Myers give me ulcers on a nightly basis) but the forwards are just as much to blame. If you watch other teams play like Chicago or Pittsburgh, you can see at most 1 player is out of the D zone while the other 2 forwards are “down low” in a good position to help the defense make easy outlet passes. While the Sabres forwards tend to just hover, watching the opposing offense just do as they wish, then when the Sabres defense win a puck battle, they bolt for the blue line forcing the defensemen to make low percentage passes, or throw high backhand passes out of the zone which the opposing defense intercept easily, make a line change, rinse repeat.

    Forwards also try to make passes too quickly. When coming up the ice on 3 on 3s or 2 on 2s, when they have room to skate and open up space, they instead IMMEDIATELY pass the puck to a teammate who isn’t in the best position to receive a pass, or make a play with it, it gets turned over and dumped into the Sabres zone.

    I could write 10 pages more but I’m depressing myself.

    • buddysguys - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Vanek has been a beast this year and i feel like you listen too much to this Buffalo media that supposedly gives him a break??? They constantly got on him for being lazy everyone in Buffalo knows this? Have you been around lately?? Erhoff is the best d man we currently have and had since Campbell was traded…its not his fault he has Sulzer next to him or Weber…you need to get a clue and not bash the only two players that have been preforming…whats next Miller is the problem???

      • zetaone - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        You clearly don’t understand the minutia of hockey at all my friend.

        You’re what I was referring about how fans don’t get on Vanek (or other responsible parties) work ethic. You’re the same fans who influenced the public opinion on Derek Roy and helped chased him out of town.

        I haven’t lived in Buffalo in over 3 years so I don’t listen to their media. I go by what I see with my own eyes. You obviously don’t watch him skate without the puck, or away from the play. His legs only move when he has the puck, or is within 10 feet of it.

        You seriously think EHRHOFF is our best defensemen? Why? Because he has the most points? Again, I’ll just state you clearly don’t understand hockey. I can point to at least 10 bad positional mistakes and/or turnovers he makes per game causing huge turn overs or odd man breaks (which often lead to goals).

        The only decent defense I’ve seen out of any of the defensemen this year have been from Regehr, Weber (more often than not), and the ONE game Adam Pardy was in the line up. I was amazed by how well he played, and then he got sent back down to the minors so…. Myers and Ehrhoff could turn the puck over a few more times?

      • danbroadus - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        Sekera is probably your best D from a defensive standpoint.

    • davebabychreturns - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      Nice post, sorry you have so much to go into detail about in terms of the Sabres woes.

      What you’re talking about is definitely on the club as a whole to correct, but I can’t help but think the lack of experience down the middle of that roster is a big contributor to that issue.

  3. Jack Bauer 24 - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Where will Vanek wind up going at the trade deadline?

  4. withseidelinn - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    In my opinion this roster just needs a big shakeup. I would trade Myers if he has another bad year, get rid of Leino who is a 3rd liner at best and buy out/trade most of their D corps. The Sabres offense is talented and can produce which is one of few bright spots this year. Miller is obviously staying and he should as he is one of the best tenders in the league. Unfortunately, no sane GM will take on Myers or Leino’s contracts in a trade, so Riegers hands are tied.

    • 19to77 - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Eh. I think Myers is moveable. There are teams willing to take a chance on a young, former blue-chip prospect on a poor team rebounding on a better one. His first season was great if memory serves. Some GMs will take a chance on him rebounding.

      • zetaone - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        Yeah, his contract has more of a chance being picked up than Leino’s that’s for sure. I just pray Regier doesn’t sign Hecht again this offseason.

  5. buff80 - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    With the first pick in the 2013 NHL draft the Buffalo Sabres select…

    • zetaone - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      Yeah with the Sabres luck, we’d be 30th place and lose 1st overall to Philly at 17th.

  6. 8man - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Unless they are playing the Bruins, one of the most physical teams in hockey…

    That being said, It’s easy for Rolston to wield and axe. He doesn’t know these guys. Hmm. Maybe that’s why they made the change….

  7. dirte42 - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    You’re high…. I bet you think kaleta doesn’t hustle too. Pardy had a good game?!?! He was HORRIBLE!! He turned it over more times than Hodgson who turns it over more than Fitzpatrick!!! I still think miller is overrated, but he has played well as of late. i wouldn’t give up on Myers just yet, We’ve got too much invested in him to do that right now and he’s still really really young. Reghyr is to old and too slow. As much as i love gerbe, he’s gotta go. Scott has no business being on skates…. That fight last night was embarrassing…. That’s his only job and he failed miserably. Sulzer…. Ehhhh…. He played well last year, but I’m just not seeing it now (which is really the same story for most of the team).

    I guess my point was lost somewhere in there…. But i think it was you aren’t watching the same game the rest of us are

  8. kgun80 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    There are some pieces on the team.. But there is a ton of dead weight on the roster. Gerbe , Hecht, Scott, Sekera,Stafford… Hecht is useless and as much as I respect Gerbes effort.. The guy isn’t an NHL player. Stafford is just useless.. He plays when he feels like it and its terribly evident when watching him play. And Hecht and Scott are completely useless.. There are definitely others but these 4 standout.

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