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 BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A month into the NHL lockout in early October, Rochester coach Ron Rolston was preparing to open the American Hockey League season eagerly anticipating the opportunity to incorporate several Buffalo Sabres players into his lineup.
Some five months later, Rolston has inherited the entire Sabres team.
Rolston will make his NHL debut as the Sabres interim head coach Thursday. That's when Buffalo plays at Toronto, a day after coach Lindy Ruff was fired amid growing criticism for the Sabres (6-10-1) sputtering start.
It was an abrupt move for a franchise that hadn't changed coaches since Ruff was hired in the summer of 1997. And the decision to fire the franchise's winningest coach (571-432-162) came after Buffalo's high-priced lineup blundered through a 2-1 home loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday, drawing boos for its lethargic play.

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