As a teenager, Brian Rolston started his junior career with the Detroit Compuware Junior B's. He didn't have to look very far to find a role model or two. The Compuware's line-up also included future NHLers Eric Lindros and Pat Peake.
According to Rolston, Lindros, at age 16, was already a tower of strength and skill that made everyone on the team reach higher in an effort to imitate the best parts of his game. After a half season of Junior B, Rolston went to play for the Lake Superior State Lakers in 1991. During his two years on campus, he excelled as an NCAA and CCHA All-Star, leading the Lakers to a NCAA championship in 1992.
Rolston also picked up international experience by joining Team USA at the World Junior Championships during both of his years at university. In 1993-94, he hooked up with the U.S. National Team for a year that led to an appearance at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, France. Rolston then closed out the eventful year with the AHL's Albany River Rats, a New Jersey Devils affiliate.
He stayed on with the River Rats for the start of the following campaign, but then got a permanent promotion to the big leagues, joining the Devils halfway into the season. From that moment on, Rolston secured his place in the NHL on the strength of his fine skating, penalty killing, and ability to score short-handed goals.
A member of the U.S. World Championship team in 1996, Rolston stayed on with the Devils until late in 1999 when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Claude Lemieux. Rolston's tenure in Denver was short, however. The Avalanche wanted Ray Bourque quite badly. Part of the price was to surrender Rolston to the Bruins, which they did, in March 2000.
In his first season with the Bruins, Rolston scored a career-high 58 points before bettering that total the following year with 62 on the strength of 31 goals. A silver medallist with the U.S. Olympic team in 2002, Rolston went on to play parts of five seasons with the Bruins, reaching the 400-point plateau during the 2003-04 season before being acquired by the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2004.
In the 2005-06 season as a member of the Wild, Rolston appeared in all 82 regular season games and recorded new career high in goals (34), assists (45) and points (79). The following season Rolston continued to produce offensively and for the fist time in his career appeared in an NHL All-Star Game. In the summer of 2008, the unrestricted free agent's three-season stint in Minnesota came to an end when he signed his former club in New Jersey.
Rolston failed to find his scoring touch in New Jersey. He would record just 15, 20 and 14 goals respectively in his three seasons with the Devils. In the summer of 2011 he was traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for winger Trent Hunter.
Rolston's time in Long Island would be brief however. After just 41 games for the club, he was traded to the Boston Bruins along with Mike Mottau for Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin.