What Hiring Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan Means For the Buffalo Sabres

In a surprising spin the Buffalo Sabres announced they would be holding a major news conference this morning and immediately rumours started flying around. Everything from Ron Rolston getting fired to the Buffalo Sabres making a new hockey position in the front office. People were going crazy with rumours awaiting for the Sabres to officially make their announcement and when they did they announced they were cleaning house.

The Buffalo Sabres have created a director of Hockey Operations position and brought Pat Lafontaine back to the Buffalo Sabres family.  In addition to bringing back Lafontaine, the Sabres also announced they were bringing back Ted Nolan as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

The first major question was why Nolan was given the interim tag instead of being the full-time head coach and that is because the Sabres as of right now are going forward without a general manager. Lafontaine turned down the job as the GM and accepted the position as hockey operations manager and will be helping the Buffalo Sabres find a new GM. When the Sabres find a new GM, that GM will be allowed to bring in his head coach and coaching staff.

So what does this move mean going forward? I think the first thing everyone has to realize is that the Buffalo Sabres already have a Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 11.35.52 AMgame plan that they intend to follow. Both Nolan and Lafontaine said that they were aware of the direction Terry Pegula wanted to take the Sabres and are going to be sticking to that path. Fans need to realize that success isn’t going to come overnight. The Sabres are rebuilding, sure Nolan may be able to get the players to play better, but they’re still going to be one of the bottom teams in the NHL.

Although Pegula never stated that he lost trust in what Darcy Regier was doing with the Sabres, I think it’s safe enough to say they did lose their faith in Regier’s plan for this team and with the fan backlash (#FireDarcy) they realized the fans were fed up. Pegula realized they needed someone else to run the ship that is the Buffalo Sabres and take the team down the rebuilding path they are on. Clearly they didn’t trust Regier with the upcoming draft and the current state of the team (trading Ryan Miller). Fans were fed up and the Sabres sat in last place, something had to snap and that was Regier’s 16 year tenure in Buffalo.

This move means there are lots of changes come in Buffalo. The veterans have been given too long of a leash and many of them will likely find their days in Buffalo over. Fans will see players like Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford on their way out soon. There will also be a new GM coming sometime in the near future and that GM will be able to bring in his head coach and make his impression on the team going forward. While firing Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston are major moves there will be many more moves coming forward. The Buffalo Sabres are by no means done.

Pegula was obviously embarrassed by the state of the team and the players were quite unhappy with the way Rolston coached. From not explaining his decisions to showing little emotion, Rolston was not the right coach. The great thing about bringing in Ted Nolan is the emotion he will bring.

“You take it personally and it is very emotional” ~ Ted Nolan on being let go by the Sabres in 1997

Nolan comes back to Buffalo with somewhat of a chip on his shoulder, wanting to show the organization that he’s a solid choice to coach the Sabres and that he did not deserve to be let go. Obviously Nolan will be coaching for a job when the new GM comes in, so Nolan knows he needs to get the best he can out of the Sabres player’s as soon as he can. Expect the players to come out on fire this weekend as they square off against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Between the fan-backlash, the way the players felt about Rolston, Regier’s unwillingness to make a change and a last place team in the NHL, Terry Pegula had seen enough. Today marks a new era for the Buffalo Sabres as Darcy Regier is no longer running this team and the management is looking to move forward together as a group. The Buffalo Sabres will make more moves as the season progresses but for now this is a good start.

What are your thoughts on the firing of Rolston and Regier and the hiring of LaFontaine and Nolan? What does this mean going forward for you as a fan?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Darcy Regier News Ron Rolston Ted Nolan

  • Dano

    What this means to me? 2 things..

    1 .) Nolan doesnt have his players in panties. The ‘ New NHL ‘ fans will be disappointed, possibly suicidal. Hes not at all what they want. Anyone whom doesnt like Scott should just go away and dont bother complaining. This guy went toe to toe with a star player in Dominic Hasek, you thing he cares about what someone might say to him about John Scott? Your opinion became irrelivent as the ‘ Blue collar ‘ fans will start lining up to buy your tickets in about 30seconds from this posting.

    ‘ Fortitude ‘, The team he coaches, his team, will have it.

    2.) Lazy players or those whom arent putting 100% effort into their game ( Myers, Stafford ) or underachievers ( Leino, Ehrhoff ) will be left warming the pine ( sitting the bench or pressbox ).

    This next game with Toronto.. Im actually gonna go to it. If they play as I would expect Nolan to have a team he coached play.. I might actually keep my season tickets.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Thanks for the read and comment Dano. I think the Sabres are going to be better (not wins) but just playing better and more hard-nosed hockey. The home-and-home with the Leafs is going to be very interesting

    • qwicwted

      I thought the rumor was Nolan was sleeping with Hasek’s wife and showing up to practices drunk. I’ve heard others where Hasek was angry because Nolan would not back him with the media. I don’t know what is true or untrue, but that is 15+ years ago and I’m sure he has changed and/or mellowed like all of us have over the years. This is a great challenge and it gives him an opportunity to show just how good a coach he can be.

  • BryanD

    Does this mean Darcy’s half yellow half Navy monstrosity will never see ice time? I would love to see a fan designed jersey in it’s place

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I think it was a team design but I don’t believe they have it scheduled for any time soon

      • jimbobv2

        That was Ted Black and not Regier.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          That’s what I thought

          • BryanD

            There still fugly

          • Caitlin Campbell

            Nothing will change that

  • jimbobv2

    Any truth to the rumor that the NHL fined the Sabres for hiring Ted Nolan?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      hahah not that I’m aware of but I’m sure it’s coming

      • jimbobv2

        I seriously wonder if the NHL will fine Nolan for something that Scott or Kaleta does under his watch…

        • Caitlin Campbell

          Thats a good point. Nolan said without hesitation Scott will play on Friday and he will likely give Kaleta another chance

        • Joe

          Im sure they will but im pretty confident nolan really wont care

        • Dano

          I can see the press confrence from it :

          Journalist : So.. Ted.. The NHL fined you because Kaleta, Scott, Foligno, Ott and the rest of the team jumped off the bench to pound on (insert name ) for running Miller..

          Nolan : So?

          Journalist : How much did they fine you?

          Nolan : Only half as much as they should have.. so.. Im giving them the 2 for the price of their one discount!

          Journalist : What are you talking about?

          (Nolan Holds up a pair of middle fingers)

          Nolan : Thats for you Gary and Shanny.

          • Caitlin Campbell

            that was priceless

          • Dano

            I remember a game, it was in 96? ( Last year of the Aud? ) against Philly. Something dirty happened on the play.. my seats were right behind the bench ( Yep, been a ticket holder for a very long time.. ). I wont repeat what nolan had to say as to avoid comment moderation on here but..

            It was an Invite. Not just to dance on the ice, but anywhere in the building, outside the building, in the parking lot.. ‘ anywhere ‘.

            The guy has faults and his biggest is his emotions.

  • Wayne

    Regier could have stayed 30 years and still have produced only excuses and more suffering. No other hockey market would have endured him for 5 years much less 16 or 17. The team had no identity, very little emotion, and very little character. They did have some bright moments with Ruff but virtually nothing as of late. Rebuilding is one thing but most fans look at Darcy’s term as 16 years of rebuilding. Eventually a GM has to produce.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      so true… bottom line Regier did not produce and Terry Pegula wants a Cup so he had to go ina different direction

  • Jes

    Hey CC sorry for late reply was in hospital all day. When I heard of this I basically stopped breathing. I almost had tears of joy running down my cheek. One of the greatest moves that could have happened to this team during this rebuilding phase. I’m a little questionable on Nolan. I like Laviolette but Nolan is a hard nosed type of guy so I’m sure we will see many players pickup there pace. I also see Stafford being bought out in a couple weeks. A few questions…

    1. Why in the blue hell is Devine still have a job? The guy is just as much of schmuck as Regier. Should’ve let him go.

    2. Are the assistant coaches gone as well? Whole new system why not new coaches all around?

    3. Any ideas on who maybe on that short list for GM of our beloved Sabres?

    • Kevin

      1. No Idea
      2. Assistants will remain
      3.Lots of names: Rick Dudley, Neil Smith, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Nieuwendyk. To name a few that I have heard.

      • Kevin

        Oh! One name I forgot is former Sabres / Amerks Jason Botterill, who is currently the assistant GM for the Penguins and has been for the last 5 seasons. Could be the odds on favorite.

        • Kevin

          More names i am finding: Brian Burke, Paul Fenton, Laurence Gilman, Claude Loisell and Jim Benning. Not sure who some of those guys are.

          • Jes

            Thanks Kev on the update. I’d hate to see Nieuwendyk as GM. He was horrible in Dallas. I heard Dudley wouldn’t want to leave Montreal right now. So I think he is out. Botterill like you said seems like the guy.

            I was hoping so bad that Devine got fired though.

          • Joe Mazurkiewicz

            Yeah,Ken Sawyer too!!!!!!!

      • Joe Mazurkiewicz

        SHANAHAN!!!!!!! REALLY??

    • Caitlin Campbell

      No worry Jes hope you’re okay hospitals are never fun! I like having Nolan here short-term to change up the room. Demand the best effort from the guys but the new GM whoever it may be will be allowed to bring in his own coach.
      1. I have no idea sorry
      2. coaching staff remains until new GM is found then possibly changes.
      3. I have a poll coming out later today that has some of the leading folks for the job (from what I’ve been told)

  • davidmuscalo

    It is a new beginning – literally! Regier left what is essentially and expansion-quality team for the new GM, whomever that may be, to struggle with.

    I approve of Terry’s choice of coach – I’ve always liked Ted Nolan. Every team he has coached is a better team when he leaves than it was when he arrived. How many other coaches can you say that about?

    Pat Lafontaine is a class act and with his knowledge of hockey and hockey players, he will improve the team substantially.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I think the new GM is going to be open to doing whatever it takes to rebuild this team and it’s going to be great having a fresh perspective. Nolan has had success coaching teams with little (or young) talent before so I’m excited to see him

  • bugzzz

    I hope to god nolan kicks Tyler Myers hard. He’s been out to lunch way too long.