Buffalo Sabres fans are excited. And don’t get me wrong, they should be. After one man running the team for over 16 years, the Sabres
organization has a new director of hockey operations – will have a new general manager, and brought back the prodigal son – Ted Nolan, as interim head coach.
What does Ted Nolan bring to this organization as the interim head coach? If the Buffalo Sabres are smart – it is only using the “interim head coach” position on Ted Nolan.
Even if the team has told Ted Nolan that they are glad to have him back and the job is his if he does well – lets look at his overall track record and see how he bodes for the future of an NHL franchise.
Ted Nolan doesn’t have the greatest of track records when it comes to wins and losses. With the Buffalo Sabres – his first head coaching stint in the National Hockey League, he missed the playoffs in his first season, but his team won their division in his second year. In 164 games coached for the Buffalo Sabres – he ended his career with the record of 73 wins, 72 losses, and 19 ties. Just barely over .500. He made the playoffs in his second season, but lost in the conference semifinals.
Going from one of the worst to one of the best is enough to warrant some recognition, and recognition is what he got. Following the conclusion of the 1996-1997 season – he was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the coach adjudged to have most contributed to the success of his team.
How much of a swing did Ted Nolan actually have in the success of the 1996-1997 Buffalo Sabres? Realistically it was only a twelve game swing. In his first season – the team won 33 games and tied seven. The second year, they only won 40 games – but tied five more. Nolan did this with a team of role players – that overachieved based on Nolan’s urging.
Nolan’s tenure with the New York Islanders was slightly different – making the playoffs the first year, and missing it the second. Nolan ended his time in New York with 163 games coached (Al Arbour was brought back to coach his 1500th NHL game) and a record of 74-68-0-12.
His total NHL career has amounted to 148-140-19-12 (counting the games from Friday and Saturday night when the Sabres played the Toronto Maple Leafs).
The modern Buffalo Sabres that Nolan is coaching now has an immense amount more talent that the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders of old that Nolan use to coach. For the Buffalo Sabres to get the most out of the relationship – they need to allow Nolan to come in and lift the spirits of the team – and create a new environment that the Buffalo Sabres can market to free agents that they will actually want to play in.
Remember the mantra the Sabres have been blasted with as players have been removed from the Regier regime?
After just one game under Ted Nolan?
“It definitely felt like a different team,” Ehrhoff said. “Everyone was going, everyone was competing.
Even Tyler Myers – the enigmatic Sabres former Calder winner and lame duck defense man has noticed the change.
“I love the way we came out in our first game with the big changes,” Myers said. “It was definitely our most fun game to play.”
I love the fact that Ted Nolan is here to help turn the culture of this organization around – but at some point, the Buffalo Sabres need to bring in someone in the hockey department that has won a Stanley Cup – or we will never see that glorious trophy paraded down Main Street.