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 game 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?