Ron Rolston has been looking for a new assistant coach. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres hire Joe Sacco as assistant coach

BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired former Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco an assistant, the team announced this afternoon.

General manager Darcy Regier said earlier today Sabres coach Ron Rolston had “zeroed in on a candidate.”

When some outlets began reporting Sacco had been hired, the Sabres officially announced the move.

Sacco coached the Avs for four seasons, going 130-134-30 before getting fired after a 16-25-7 finish in 2012-13. The 44-year-old, a veteran of 738 NHL games, was a Jack Adams Award finalist for top coach in 2009-10 after leading the Avs to a 43-30-9 finish and a playoff appearance in his first season.

The Sabres fired assistant coaches Kevyn Adams and James Patrick in May. Regier said the Sabres will add another assistant later.

Update: Here’s Rolston, who didn’t know Sacco prior to interviewing him, on the hiring:

His qualities:

“Tremendous experience, work ethic, teacher, has coached a young team in Colorado.”

On Sacco’s experience:

“His experience in general, whether he played or not, wasn’t as important as the experience he has in coaching. He was a player who was a heart-and-soul player, somebody that you could depend on every night. You knew what you were getting.”

Sacco became available when some other opportunities ended:

“He was obviously a no-brainer at that point to bring in and see if this would be a place that he’d want to come to and be involved in in terms of the direction that we’re going in, we thought he’d be a perfect fit.”

Rolston insisted he jelled with Adams and Patrick:

“They were both outstanding when I got here and all the way through.”

He said later: “It was just part of change, nothing else. (They’re) both outstanding people, both outstanding coaches, lot of character. They were outstanding in the transition coming for me coming from Rochester to here.”

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