The Buffalo Sabres saw an exodus from their AHL affiliate’s coaching staff following the Rochester Americans’ elimination from the Calder Cup Playoffs in May, as former Sabres captain Mike Peca joined Peter Laviolette’s coaching staff with the New York Rangers and Mike Weber left to join Craig Berube’s staff in St. Louis.
On Monday, the club announced the hiring of former NHLers Nathan Paetsch and Vinny Prospal as assistant coaches to Rochester coach Seth Appert.
“I’m excited to add Nathan and Vinny to our coaching staff,” Appert said in a press release.”The experience they bring will be invaluable for our players in their development. The character and competitiveness they displayed in their playing careers will serve us well as they become role models for our prospects. I’m looking forward to having them add to the culture we are creating in Rochester.”
Paetsch was a seventh-round pick of the Sabres in 2003 and played 167 games with Buffalo and Columbus over five NHL seasons and 870 professional games over a 17-year career. After retiring in 2020, the 40-year-old joined Buffalo as a development coach working closely with the organization’s top defensive prospects. The focus of his talents of developing blueline prospects will be Sabres 2019 first-rounder Ryan Johnson, who signed an entry-level contract with Buffalo in May and will likely spend all of the 2023-24 season in Rochester, acclimating himself to the pro game after four years at the University of Minnesota.
Thank you, Rochester. ❤️
— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) December 18, 2020
The 48-year-old Prospal played 1108 NHL games for six clubs (Flyers, Senators, Panthers, Ducks, Lightning, Rangers and Blue Jackets) over a 16-year playing career, scoring 765 points (255 goals, 510 assists). The last three seasons, he was head coach of HC Ceske Budejovice of the Czech Extraliga and led the team to back-to-back league championships at the second-tier level (Czech Republic Hockey League, Chance Liga) in 2018-19 and 2019-20, going 63-18-5 during the regular season, and was named the league’s Coach of the Year following the 2020-21 campaign.
Vinny Prospal vs. Boston, 4/4/11 pic.twitter.com/X6ThMWy3kF
— NYR Goal A Day (@NYRGoalADay) April 7, 2017
Undoubtedly, Prospal will be helpful in the development of the Sabres forward prospects in Rochester, but especially to Czech youngsters Lukas Rousek and Jiri Kulich, who will be pushing for playing time at the NHL level next season.