I talked with former Wild 30-goal sniper Brian Rolston this morning, and it wasn’t only to wish him a very happy 40th birthday!
I gave Rolston a call to ask him about his older brother, Ron, who is now the interim coach with the Buffao Sabres, but also to ask Rolston about his future.
“I’m still waiting by the phone to see if the Wild is going to call me up to save their season,” Rolston said, laughing.
Rolston saw that Andrew Brunette retired last week and was hired by the Wild as hockey ops advisor. He said as of now, “I haven’t officially retired.” He said he is open to playing again, but it would have to be the right fit.
“I really don’t foresee that happening, but I’m still available at this point,” Rolston said. “I haven’t officially signed any papers. Who knows what my future is. We’ll see. Time will tell. I would like to get back into hockey.”
Rolston said he is really intrigued by player development, but also feels he would have a lot to offer as a coach. He hasn’t pursued anything yet.
“I played for Jacques [Lemaire] for nine years [in New Jersey and Minnesota]. I think I have my PhD in how to play defensively being under him for that long,” said Rolston.
This reminded me of the 2007 All-Star Game in Dallas when Rolston actually on his first shift retreated into what would be his position for a neutral-zone trap. You could actually see him stop and realize, “Oh, I’m in an All-Star Game, I don’t have to do that.”
He finished with two goals and two assists that day in Dallas. His quote after was that Lemaire would be proudest “that I wasn't on the ice for a goal. Plus-5, I need to take that into my personal stats. Me and Billy [Guerin], we said, `Let's get in on the forecheck. This way we don't have to go back to our own end.’”
Rolston said laughing there are no plans of him joining brother Ron’s bench. Lindy Ruff’s staff will remain on until the end of the year.
“I have my hands full with my four boys,” Rolston said.
Ron Rolston, a former Michigan Tech standout, longtime college coach and coach with USA Hockey, is six years older than Brian. As Rochester’s coach, he would speak with Sabres GM Darcy Regier almost daily.
When Regier called yesterday, Brian Rolston said Ron thought, ‘Oh, who are they calling up now?’ Instead, it was ‘You’re coaching [Thursday] in Toronto.”
Asked Ron’s strengths, Brian said, “Attention to detail. He’s super prepared, always learning. We talk a lot. He’s taught me a lot. His attention to detail, he’ just a super-hard worker. His teams are prepared plain and simple. There’s no gray areas in the game. Whether they’re right or wrong, there’s no gray areas in the way he teaches. He’s a good teacher. And I think that’s ultimately the most important thing. Like Jacques was. Jacques was the best teacher I ever had. There’s a lot of coaches out there that can do the x’s and o’s and talk about what needs to be done. But if you don’t have a teacher to teach young kids especially this day and age, I don’t think you’re going to go very far.”
Brian, laughing, said he kidded around with Ron that since the Sabres have a lot of young guys from Rochester, “Hopefully those young guys like you because you know all the veteran guys are going to be asking, ‘What’s this guy like?’ Ron will do a great job. He’s qualified for the job. You see a lot of younger coaches coming into the league and kind of the old guard moving out. I think Ron is definitely qualified and I think he’ll do a great job. Who knows what happens next year, but certainly I think he’s the right guy for the job.”
Brian Rolston’s big plans for his 40th, he said, will entail, “Watching a one-year old.”
Rolston lives in Traverse City, Michigan. He said, “I actually would love to move back to Minnesota. With kids playing hockey, what better place is there to raise your kids? I really enjoyed playing there and living there. I would welcome an opportunity there, but it looks like they’ve got a lot of Wild players in the organization right now.”
As I’ve said many times before, it was a treat covering Rolston. Just a great person and player.
The Wild skates today in Edmonton at 12:30 p.m. CT. I will blog later on. I will also be on Fox Sports North tonight during the 8 p.m. Wild Live pregame show and again during the first intermission.
Star Tribune Recommends
More From Russo's Rants
Eric Staal scored the game-winner and Devan Dubnyk made 17 of his 35 saves in the third period as the Wild held on to beat Toronto, 3-2.
Since coming to the Wild two years ago, Devan Dubnyk is 69-41-11 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 125 games.
The Wild, which beat Edmonton in overtime on Sunday, looks to end the road trip on a winning note Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.
With an overtime win in Edmonton, the Wild improved to 1-1-2 on a five-game trip that ends Wednesday in Toronto.
The Wild will be looking for its first win of the road trip tonight in Edmonton.