Ron Rolston smiles this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rolston ready to lead Sabres

TORONTO – Ron Rolston walked to a podium this afternoon inside the Air Canada Centre, surveyed the landscape before him – about 30 reporters and a dozen cameras – and immediately cracked his first joke as the Buffalo Sabres’ interim coach.

“It looks like the same media coverage as Rochester,” joked Rolston, who replaced Lindy Ruff on Wednesday.

A day ago, Rolston was preparing his Rochester Americans for an AHL tilt against the Texas ... Read the full article

Lindy Ruff began coaching the Sabres in 1997. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ regression ultimately doomed Ruff

BUFFALO – Darcy Regier walked in looking shaken. The Sabres general manager broke down a couple times while discussing the difficult decision to fire his close friend Lindy Ruff, the NHL’s longest-tenured coach.

Regier and Ruff had been synonymous with each other since 1997, when a rookie GM gave a young coaching prospect his dream job. Together, they experienced all the highs and lows of the NHL, somehow managing to keep their gigs despite limited ... Read the full article

Ron Rolston will make his NHL coaching debut tonight in Toronto. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres tab Rolston to replace Ruff on interim basis

BUFFALO – When word began spreading Wednesday the Sabres had fired Lindy Ruff, the hockey world immediately started wondering who would succeed the NHL’s longest-tenured coach.

Would the Sabres hire an unproven young NHL assistant or an AHL coach? Would they try to make a big splash? Or would they simply turn to James Patrick, Ruff’s most-trusted assistant?

The Sabres’ decision to promote Rochester Americans coach Ron Rolston and award him the interim label for ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko celebrates his first NHL goal Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Leafs stun Sabres late in overtime, spoil Grigorenko’s first goal

BUFFALO – Fifteen minutes after allowing the overtime winner in the Sabres’ shocking 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ryan Miller sat stewing in his stall inside the dressing room, staring straight ahead. The goalie still had his pads on. He barely moved.

Down the hallway, winning Leafs goalie James Reimer was riding an exercise bike sporting a wide grin.

His 29 saves had just bested the former Vezina Trophy winner Tuesday before 18,801 ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko won't be returning to the Quebec Remparts. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Lockout helped Grigorenko develop into NHL talent

BUFFALO – If the Sabres had to decide Mikhail Grigorenko’s NHL fate back in September, then the team would’ve returned the 18-year-old rookie to junior, general manager Darcy Regier said.

But the lockout gave Grigorenko a unique opportunity to keep developing before the 48-game NHL season started.

The center dominated the QMJHL. His strong play with Team Russia during the recent world junior championship elevated his confidence to another level, Regier said.

The top prospect ... Read the full article

The NHL lockout gave Mikhail Grigorenko more time to develop. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL lockout helped Grigorenko stick with Sabres

BUFFALO – If the Sabres had to decide Mikhail Grigorenko’s NHL fate back in September, then the team would’ve returned the 18-year-old rookie to junior, general manager Darcy Regier said.

But the lockout gave Grigorenko a unique opportunity to keep developing before the 48-game NHL season started.

The center dominated the QMJHL. His strong play with Team Russia during the recent world junior championship elevated his confidence to another level, Regier said.

The top prospect ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko will play his sixth NHL game tonight. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Grigorenko excited to be staying with Sabres

BUFFALO – When the Sabres’ skate ended this morning, coach Lindy Ruff called his team together at the bench and told his players what general manager Darcy Regier had just said to the media minutes earlier: 18-year-old rookie Mikhail Grigorenko would be staying in the NHL.

Teammates then tapped their sticks in appreciation. A few even gave Grigorenko, who’ll play his sixth NHL game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a face wash.

“It felt ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko (left) and Tyler Myers entered the NHL as teenagers. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres waiting to make decision on Grigorenko’s future

BUFFALO – The fun part, slick Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko said, comes when he touches the puck and makes a play on NHL ice.

“You realize you’re in (the) NHL and you did something good,” the 18-year-old said Monday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs inside the First Niagara Center.

Grigorenko set his sights on the NHL as a child growing up in Khabarovsk, Russia, a city just 19 ... Read the full article

Ryan Miller dazzled Monday while making 34 saves. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres showcase more toughness in gritty win over Leafs

TORONTO – Remember this one. The Buffalo Sabres’ gritty 2-1 triumph over the Maple Leafs on Monday could be their blueprint for success in this lockout-shortened season.

Against a team fresh off a big opening-night win and playing its first home tilt, the Sabres showcased unyielding muscle, capitalized on their few chances early and received splendid goaltending from Ryan Miller before a capacity crowd of 19,475 fans inside the Air Canada Centre.

“We came in ... Read the full article

Mike Kostka played two seasons with the Sabres' old affiliate in Portland. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres prospect Kostka finally living NHL dream with Leafs

TORONTO – Mike Kostka was one day away from ditching his NHL dream, all set to take a gig playing overseas.

The 27-year-old Maple Leafs rookie couldn’t find any good work in North America. Despite two solid seasons with the Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate in Portland, the team hadn’t tendered the defenseman a contract in 2010, making him a free agent.

Then Kostka’s friend, an AHL player named Marco Rosa, stopped over Kostka’s home a ... Read the full article