In explaining his decision to remove the interim tag from Head Coach Ron Rolston, Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said he felt the team was getting better under Rolston’s tutelage.
Maybe its simpler than that and perhaps it comes down to one player. You can make a strong case that Rolston’s most important task when he was given the job was to fix the mess that was Tyler Myers.
The player many expected would be a franchise defenseman, after he won the Calder Trophy in 2010, was in a free fall when the team fired Lindy Ruff.
Myers was a minus seven, had seen his ice time diminished and was a healthy scratch two times in Ruff’s seventeen games this season.
Under Rolston, Myers played every game(until he was injured), saw his ice time go back up to 20 plus minutes a game on a regular basis and was a minus one over the final 24 contests of his season.
Myers was a guest on WGR on Wednesday and said he was excited to hear the news that Rolston would be staying on as head coach.
“When Ron came in, he came in with a very positive attitude” Myers said. “Things were really tough at the time he came in and I thought, from the players perspective, he handled things really well.”
“One thing I noticed about Ron, is he approached guys in a different way and I think that’s what you need because each guy is different. I thought it went really well with Ron, the way we communicated with each other and he was really positive with me.”
Myers, who averaged more than 22 minutes a game in each of his first three seasons, had sub 20 minute games in 8 of the 15 he played in while Ruff was behind the bench. He topped the 20 minute mark in 20 of the 24 games with Rolston as the coach.
“It’s no secret my confidence, after we started the season, was pretty low” Myers said. “ It’s something I had to work on and Ron helped me through that.”
Myers had his worst season as a pro with just three goals and eight points in 39 games while ending up minus. Myers was asked if he had any explanation.
“ I put way too much pressure on myself coming into each season and I think this year especially” said Myers, who just finished the first year of a 7 year, $38.5 million contract extension he signed in September 2011. “ I put even that much more pressure on myself. I’ve already started focusing on how I need to approach coming into next year and it’s something I need to change.”
Myers off season conditioning and commitment has come under question which is one reason why he’ll train in Buffalo under the guidance of the Sabres staff for most of the upcoming summer. Myers knows what is expected of him as the Sabres rebuild with a youth movement.
“The bottom line is I have to be a lot better and I’m going to do everything in my power to be as ready as possible coming into next season” Myers said.
You can hear the entire interview with Tyler Myers including his comments on how Ron Rolston got his confidence level back up and the valuable lessons he learned from Robyn Regehr.