James Patrick blocked shots in front of Dominik Hasek. He mentored Brian Campbell. He coached alongside Lindy Ruff.
He created plenty of memories in Buffalo, but he won’t add any more as a member of the Sabres.
Coach Ron Rolston fired Patrick and fellow assistant Kevyn Adams on Thursday. The holdovers from Ruff’s staff eased the Sabres’ transition when Rolston replaced Ruff in February, but changes were expected after General Manager Darcy Regier removed the interim tag from Rolston’s title this week.
“I was lucky to be here for 14 years,” Patrick said by phone. “I love Buffalo and I love the Sabres. I was just so lucky to be able to work with great people, especially Lindy. To me, Lindy was the spirit and heart and soul of the Sabres, and to learn from him and work with him was such a great experience.”
Teppo Numminen, an assistant under Ruff for the past two years, will remain with the Sabres, sources said. There was no word on goaltending coach Jim Corsi, who has been with the team for 15 seasons.
Rolston was said to be interviewing assistant coach candidates and is not expected to comment until his staff is complete.
The leading candidate to join Rolston is Chadd Cassidy, his former assistant who took over as coach in Rochester when Rolston was promoted. Cassidy has worked with Rolston since 2006 when they were part of the U.S. National Team Development Program.
“We’ll try to move as quickly as possible, but we want to be thorough about how we do that,” Rolston said Tuesday while estimating the process at seven days.
Patrick and Adams had no previous relationship with Rolston, and sources said neither had a good relationship with Regier. The duo couldn’t help solve the Sabres’ woes on special teams as Buffalo finished 29th in power-play efficiency and 26th in penalty killing.
Patrick arrived in Buffalo in 1998 and played six seasons. The defenseman had a close bond with Campbell, and the four-time All-Star has credited Patrick for his growth as a player.
Patrick joined Ruff on the bench in 2006-07, and the Sabres won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top team. He wants to continue coaching and likely would join Ruff when he gets his next job.
Adams was raised in Clarence and returned to the area in 2008 after ending his playing career, which included beating the Sabres with Carolina in the 2006 Eastern Conference finals en route to the Stanley Cup. Ruff hired Adams in 2009 as a player development coach, and he became a full-time assistant in 2011.
Patrick and Adams, both of whom have been praised by former and current Sabres, combined for 1,820 games of NHL playing experience.
“It allows you to know all the situations that players are going through,” Patrick said, “from young, naive, inexperienced players to older players still trying to hang on and can sometimes lack confidence but can still be real good, effective players. I guess what Kevyn and I can always relate to is we know exactly what they’re going through in all those situations.”
Rolston never skated in the NHL, but he can call his brother, Brian, who appeared in 1,256 games.
“He’s somebody that certainly you always have as a sounding board to communicate with,” the coach said. “I don’t know if he’s ready to move into that phase of things yet from player to coach, but he has certainly throughout this process provided a lot of great, great feedback just in terms of players, coaches, systems.”