Tag: Ron Rolston

Mikhail Grigorenko

Sabres’ Grigorenko: ‘No one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL’


BUFFALO — When the Buffalo Sabres selected Mikhail Grigorenko with the 12th overall selection in 2012, many wondered if the team was taking a risk on a player whom many scouts differed on just how good he would be.

Since then, Grigorenko has started off the past two seasons in Buffalo only to be sent back to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts. The 20-year-old Russian forward is currently in the midst of his third prospect camp with the Sabres and knows he has a lot to prove this year. He also knows where to lay some of the blame for not sticking with the big club.

“From past experience I realized it’s probably no one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL,” Grigorenko said at First Niagara Center on Tuesday. “If I want to play in the best league in the world, it’s just on me. No one’s going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round. I just have to go out there and be the best.”

Being the best is something the Sabres have been eager to witness. In his abbreviated stints with the team the past two seasons, he’s scored three goals and added five assists in 43 games. In Quebec it’s been a different story.

Grigorenko has excelled against players his own age the past two seasons. In 56 games with the Remparts he scored 45 goals with 93 points. This season he’ll either be with the Rochester Americans in the AHL or Buffalo – a challenge he’s eager to accept.

“It’s going to be good for me to play against men for sure this year,” he said. “I’m really excited for this year. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get way better than I did last year.”

His time in Buffalo has come at an awkward point for the organization. He’s played for three different head coaches with Lindy Ruff, Ron Rolston, and Ted Nolan. With Tim Murray replacing Darcy Regier as general manager, it’s almost an entirely different organization. Throw in the coaches he’s played for with Quebec, Team Russia at World Juniors, and in the AHL with the Rochester Americans that’s a lot of different voices telling him what to do.

“It’s pretty tough,” Grigorenko admitted. “Learning the new strategies and some coaches like you more, some coaches like you less. You have different roles in each team you play for, I was lucky enough that all the coaches were all really nice to me. I thought every single coach I had tried to help me to be a better hockey player and a better person.”

source: Getty ImagesAfter all he’s seen and gone through in his professional career to this point, you’d think he might have too much going through his head to help him become the dynamic offensive player the Sabres are hoping he’ll blossom into. That’s an issue he’s worked on to fix, but the pressure to perform in the NHL is clearly there.

“I need to think a little less,” Grigorenko said. “I just have to want the puck and go in on every single battle and want the puck. I’m an offensive player so I just need to score goals. I have to bring the offense. If I don’t score goals and don’t have points then I guess no one needs me on the team now.”

Grigorenko will look to earn a spot with the Sabres at training camp in September. He came into prospect camp at 218 pounds, up 10 pounds from last year, he said. He also credits skating instructor Dawn Braid for helping him get his stride and technique straightened out.

If all of those adjustments to his game and seemingly to his approach off the ice work out, the Sabres will have a potentially dangerous offensive weapon as part of their rebuild.

Sabres send Grigorenko back to juniors… again

Mikhail Grigorenko

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but the Buffalo Sabres are sending Mikhail Grigorenko back to his junior team for the second consecutive season.

Interim coach Ted Nolan announced that Grigorenko was being sent back to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL following Sabres practice this morning. Grigorenko had said he wanted to stay with the Sabres, but that won’t be happening.

Grigorenko, 19, was a first-round pick in 2012 and has had  three coaches during his two NHL seasons. Last season, Grigorenko played 25 games under Lindy Ruff and Ron Rolston before being sent back to Quebec.

This season, Grigorenko was routinely placed on the fourth line with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta under Rolston and while he’s had a few games with Nolan, he was allowed to play in the World Junior Championships for Russia. Because of his age, he’s ineligible to play in the American Hockey League until his junior team’s season is over.

Now that he’s through two years of his entry-level deal without any real success at the NHL level, there are questions about just how good he is. Lighting up the QMJHL one more time may not prove that.

Roy to hear from NHL about outburst, no fine expected (Updated)

Patrick Roy

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy provided plenty of fireworks last night in his shouting outburst at Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau late in the team’s 6-1 win. Fortunately for him, it doesn’t sound like the league will take much action against him for it.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports the league will likely call Roy to discuss what went on but it’s expected he will not be fined for his actions.

If Roy sees any action taken against him, he’d be the second coach to face the wrath of the NHL for something they’ve done. Buffalo’s Ron Rolston was fined for his part in leaving enforcer John Scott on the ice during the Sabres-Maple Leafs melee during a preseason game.

Now we’ll have to wait and see what Roy will do for an encore. It might be a very fun season in Denver, win or lose.

UPDATE (1:03 p.m. ET)

According to a source of TVA’s Louis Jean, the NHL is indeed reviewing last night’s incident and claims a fine is “highly probable.”

Related — Video: Bruce Boudreau calls Patrick Roy’s actions ‘bush league’

Sabres’ Ristolainen makes team, Zadorov out two weeks (finger)

Rasmus Ristolainen

It was a good news/bad news day for both 2013 first-round picks of the Buffalo Sabres.

First up, the good news. Eighth overall pick, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, has made the team. After an impressive training camp, he made the cut as Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald shares.

At 6’3″ 207 pounds, he’s been a physical player and a smart one through camp for Buffalo. It also marks the second year in a row the team’s top pick has made the team out of camp (Mikhail Grigorenko did last year).

The bad news centers around 16th overall pick Nikita Zadorov. He injured his finger blocking a shot on Friday night and will miss two weeks of action as Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News shares. Coach Ron Rolston says his finger was “smashed” at the tip. Gross.

Rolston says his injury status won’t dictate if he makes the team. More from Hoppe:

“Will we keep him?” Rolston asked. “We’ll have to discuss that. It’s two weeks. We could have him here and he could be working out and be on the ice because it’s not anything lower body.”

Buffalo is poised to be one of the youngest teams in the league. Keeping a pair of first-round picks from this year’s draft and last year’s (Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons) would make them a very green team.

Report: Joe Sacco to join Sabres coaching staff (Update: It’s official)

Joe Sacco

Former Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco isn’t going to be out of work very long.

According to John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Sacco is set to join Sabres head coach Ron Rolston on his staff as an assistant. Rolston has been looking for experienced help on his bench since former assistants Kevyn Adams and James Patrick were let go.

Both Rolston and Sacco have history together as they were assistants under Scott Gordon for Team USA during the 2010 World Championships. Sacco coached Team USA to the bronze medal at this year’s Championships.

Sacco was fired as head coach of the Avalanche following yet another disappointing season this year. He’ll join Teppo Numminen on Rolston’s coaching staff. Numminen was the only holdover from Lindy Ruff’s tenure in Buffalo.

Update (3:08 p.m. ET): Sabres make it official Sacco is on board. Press conference to come at 4:30 ET today.