Leone named head coach of Americans

The Buffalo Sabres have appointed Michael Leone as head coach of the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Set to become the 34th head coach in the 68-year history of the Amerks franchise, Leone embarks on his AHL head coaching career following two seasons as head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. His previous coaching experience also includes a successful three-year stretch as an assistant coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, as well as brief stints at both the collegiate and professional levels.

Leone, 36, amassed a 66-41-10-7 record in his two seasons with Green Bay, leading the Gamblers to back-to-back 30-plus win seasons as well as consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over a decade. Leone piloted Green Bay’s resurgence through the 2022-23 campaign, helping the team finish with the most wins (32) and points (71) since 2016-17. The following year saw the Gamblers capture two more wins and earn a third-place finish in the USHL’s Eastern Conference standings, culminating with a return trip to the postseason for the second straight year.

Before joining Green Bay, Leone served as an assistant coach for the USNTDP from 2019-20 to 2021-22, alternating duties between the under-18 and under-17 national teams. He also spent time as an assistant coach for the Bowling Green State University men’s ice hockey team (2018-19) and for Quad City of the ECHL (2017-18). During his three seasons with the USNTDP, Leone helped implement a successful development model that produced an astounding 41 NHL Draft picks including 13 future first-round selections, four of whom were chosen in the opening round of last year’s draft.

A native Dearborn Heights, Mich., Leone also has extensive coaching experience at the international level, most recently serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select team in 2023. He served in the same capacity with the 2022 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and at the 2021 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament, where he helped guide the U.S. to the championship. Additionally, Leone was an assistant coach at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship, was behind the bench for Team USA’s 2019 Under-17 Four Nations championship-winning team and for the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, where the U.S. placed second.

Leone played collegiately at NCAA Division III Adrian College and Utica College, at the ACHA’s Lindenwood University and at D-I Western Michigan University. He played three seasons of pro hockey in the ECHL and in France.