AHCA – Ron Rolston Hot Stove

A favorite part of the convention for me is the “Hot Stove” talks given by a handful of coaches. Designated coaches will talk about their year/career/topic of their choice and then answer questions. Here’s what Ron Rolston (former HC of the Buffalo Sabres) had to say:

  • Ron was in the college game for 13 years as an assistant coach prior to moving to the NTDP to be a head coach
  • Working as a HC at the NTDP allowed him to do his own thing, the job changes dramatically from AC to HC
  • He was hired in Rochester (AHL) when Buffalo (NHL) wanted to change their minor league format to a more developmental system similar to the NTDP
  • After he was let go in Buffalo, he spent the year travelling and looking at different programs and how they operate – NHL, AHL, NCAA – he’s learned that the better teams have a few components: an organizational philosophy that is well mapped out and everyone sticks to it – attention to detail in everything they do
  • Leadership philosophy is that leaders drive the height of the organization but you have to bring in guys who have good leadership abilities and a commitment to accountability – these guys drive the bus from the inside
  • When moving around in coaching, you have to go somewhere where you are comfortable with the mindset and the approach – there’s risk in everything you do in coaching and you have to know that you’ll get knocked down at some point – only you know when you’re ready to take the next step
  • College coaching vs Pro coaching – in college, the coaches are the GMs/Player Personnel guys, in the Pros, you have to take the players you’re given and coach them – guys have to want to learn and you have to show them you care about them
  • Player Distractions: In College & at the NTDP you have to know what guys are doing and you have to stay in their business – at the Pro level guys are driven to be there and you trust them until they hang themselves…distractions are limited because it impacts their careers in a much different (more public) way
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