Dec 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan during the game against the Calgary Flames at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Should Ted Nolan Be Named the Buffalo Sabres Head Coach All Ready?

Sabre Noise fans, if you have been coming here for more than a week, you know that, when the season started, many of us who write for this site were . . .

how should I put this . . . extremely unhappy people.

(I have another description that includes two swear words – try to guess what they were!  On second thought, never mind.)

Of course, we had a pretty good reason to be unhappy.  The Buffalo Sabres opened their season 2-12-1 after just one month of play, after all, and looked woefully unprepared and poorly coached.   Worst of all, the Sabres appeared to be about as interested in playing competitive hockey as I am in catching the new chick flick I saw previewed last night, The Other Woman.  Personally, I was so angered and embarrassed by what I saw that I actually called for head coach Ron Rolston to be let go, something I really hated having to do.

Fast forward to now – just skip right through the first month and a half, and notice how different the Buffalo Sabres look when they take the ice.  First of all, the team is actually entertaining to watch, a value that is quite important since most of us are paying money to enjoy these games.  Second, the team is (for the most part) competitive, having lost only three games since November 13 by 3 goals and compiling a 7-9-3 record in that span.

Why do I mention November 13, specifically?  Because that is the day that Ted Nolan became the interim coach of this squad.  And I’m here to argue that, as of, oh, today, Nolan should have the interim tag removed from his job description and should be named the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres based on what he has done with this team.

Before you call me delusional, let me point out that this Sabres team still has many weaknesses to address.  They’ll be lucky to fight for 10th, maybe 9th, in the Eastern Conference next season.  There: now you can’t accuse me of being a blind homer.

Even so, no one can deny that Buffalo is a much more respectable team since the events of November 13.  Under Nolan, the Sabres have increased their Corsi for percentage from 35.6% to 47.1%.  They also went from only taking 40.2% of the total number of shots in their games to taking 47.7%, although last night’s -33 SOG differential won’t help that number.

Better record.  Better stats.  Better effort.  Happier home crowd fans.  All since Ted Nolan arrived in town – and with a team that isn’t built to win any time soon, to boot.  In my opinion, I think the Sabres should go ahead and announce that Nolan is their guy now.  Let him, the players, and the fans know that he will be at the helm of the rebuilding process.

But what I think is irrelevant.  What do YOU think, readers?  Vote, and start the conversation below, and @theamazingMrS!

Should Ted Nolan be named the head coach now, or at the end of the season?

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Ted Nolan

  • Joshua_Tree

    To me it’s a no-brainer. Ted Nolan is everything Rolston wasn’t. Given what he had to work with – a group of inexperienced players with no self-esteem and no star players to hide behind – he has done an amazing job building a team out of it. And no, I’m not delusional either, I know there’s a long way to go from here, but to build a contender you need a steady foundation. Nolan is providing that.

    Besides that, he just seems like a great guy. He gives a professional and confident impression. RonRon always looked like he was in way over his head, while Nolan just seems to be exactly where he should be.

  • Ron Cianciosi

    I love Twddy, but you will limit your selection of GM if you force him to take a current coach.

    • Richard Spalding

      I’ll give you that: picking Ted now will limit GM possibilities. Good point. Having said that, I have to believe there are some GMs out there who would like to have a coach like Ted on the bench. Now that the Sabres have a guy who knows what he’s doing on the ice, I would hate to see the organization lose him like they did years ago.

    • JHizzle75

      I think we should limit our choice of GMs to people who would keep Nolan as coach. It should be the first question when Patty interviews GM candidates.
      ” If hired, would you keep Ted Nolan?”
      Pretty simple question. Any GM who wouldn’t keep Nolan after what he’s done this year isn’t a good GM, IMO.
      If a new GM came in and let Nolan go it would be a step backwards, and I think there would be an uproar among the players, and most fans.

  • aftoy

    Nolan can coach till the new GM arrives, then if he decides he wants his own man so be it. But you can bet that Lafontaine will make Nolan his right hand man. Basically he will be the new GM’s boss, so the new GM is stuck with Nolan.

    • Jes

      I doubt that. Nolan will have his input like every coach but he won’t be the “Boss” of the GM. If Lafontaine wanted to run the Sabres like that he would’ve named himself the GM awhile ago. Only team I can think of that has the coach as the boss of the GM is the Avalanche.

  • Jes

    To early to remove the the interim tag off Nolan. Let’s see how he does the rest of the season. As Joshua mentioned it really limits the candidates for GM job, and that’s one thing a rebuilding team should do. We have a bunch of draft picks coming up so getting the right GM in place right now should be top of the list and let the new GM handle if he wants Nolan back. Lifting that tag off him now and then seeing him fired come offseason would just be another embarrassment. Just stick with the interim tag for now. Wait until the offseason or when Lafontaine names a GM before removing that interim tag.

    • Richard Spalding

      I agree with what you say, but seeing him NOT brought back as the head coach after the job he did would be equally embarrassing. “Oh, so you turned a 2-12-1 team around? Good for you. Now, thanks and good-bye!”


      Not every GM has to come in and can the coach, so there’s a way to do this. It does make for a sticky situation, though.

      • Ron Cianciosi

        But he knew the situation when he came in unlike last time

        • Richard Spalding

          I’m not really worried about Nolan’s angle; the team itself would look a bit dumb to have gone out, brought in an ex-coach, only to release him after this season. You usually don’t go out and find an interim coach; you promote form within your system. Had the Sabres made an assistant coach interim, and then decided to hire a new coach in the offseason, that would be normal. Bringing in Ted Nolan, watching him be scucessful and then releasing him would make many fans ask, “So why did they bring him back in the first place?” Now we’ve got more fan and media negativity. That’s what I’m getting at.

          • Jes

            Well in reality they kept the interim coach label on him to let the new GM handle this. Nolan usually has pretty rocky relationships with a GM. They should make sure the new GM will want Nolan to coach. He could win the jack Adams this year and be gone next year right? So way to early to lift interim tag, the new GM should have full authority of that.

          • Richard Spalding

            True. I don’t disagree with anything being said here. However, it is rare that you go out and FIND an interim coach. You go out and HIRE a new coach; you tend to promote form within when it comes to the interim thing. I’m curious as to why they brought Nolan in if they don’t see a future with him, and if they do see a future with him, they should name him coach and make sure the new GM understands: he’s your coach. The rest is up to you. And yes, I know that limits your candidates, but it is what it is.

          • Jes

            Ya that’s a good point. But right now a GM is more important then the coach IMO. We’ve got an enormous amount of draft picks coming up and some key UFA’s naming Nolan permanent HC shouldn’t be on the todo list until the offseason.

    • [email protected]

      That’s what I am thinking as well.

  • Caitlin Campbell

    It won’t let me vote but as much as I want Nolan to stick around it will limit the new GM, the new guy has to be happy and have his guys in place.

  • qwicwted

    I would keep the “interim” label on Nolan for now – let the new GM decide. I don’t think you necessarily force a new GM to keep Nolan, but his performance gives him an opportunity to hang around. The new GM might be perfectly fine with keeping Nolan – you know a lot of time has gone by and people do change. I think where I am really impressed, aside from tightening up their game, is hearing Moulson say he would like to stay with the Sabres and likes playing for Nolan. Here was a guy that came to Buffalo as a “leading scorer” and was benched by Rolston without any explanation. My thinking was Buffalo is the last place he would want to be, but his thinking reflects the changes that the club has experienced with Nolan and Lafontaine coming in. While I would like to see Nolan give our youngsters more opportunities, I do like what I see. I’m really not a big fan of our 4th line playing so often, but I have to say – they are generating a lot of opportunities. Anyway, I think Patty has narrowed down his GM choice and maybe that issue was/is part of the talks.

    • Richard Spalding

      Keeping Moulson would be such a huge step for this team. Rolston’s benching of him was the most infuriating thing I have seen in a long time.

  • Dano

    I believe Nolan is the right coach ‘ right now ‘. A new GM might want someone/something different.

    The Roster is going to change by no fewer then 5 people next season, thats a quarter of the team. Will Nolan still be the ‘ right guy ‘ then?

    I would LOVE to see Nolan stay and continue to put the team back above ‘ respectable ‘ in speaking/playing terms but its an open book ahead.

    • Richard Spalding

      Good points.

  • Joe

    Have to name gm first and let him decide

  • davidmuscalo

    I agree that since Ted Nolan became interim coach, the team has been more competitive and is playing more exciting hockey. That is part of the equation, but there is a second part of the equation too which is nearly as important and that is the firing of Darcy Regier. I think that event has also had an impact on the team’s change in attitude. With Regier as GM, all of the veterans needed to wonder which of them was to be traded next and where they might end up. Once Regier was gone, the veterans saw some stability return to the team in terms of personnel. The veterans could now expect to have some job security and not worry about being replaced by raw rookies who belong in the minors.

    Although it is true that the team has been more successful under Ted Nolan, they are not a dominant force in the NHL and won’t be for the next three to five years. Ted Nolan has taken a disorganized and confused group of players and given them direction and purpose, but he hasn’t performed miracles (he doesn’t have the material) and it remains to be seen if he can bring players up from the minors and integrate them into his system effectively.

    No, Ted Nolan should remain as interim coach at least until a new GM is hired and probably for another season. Right now the team is in a holding pattern and until there is a new GM, we will see little in the way of substantial progress.

    • Jes

      Substantial improvement IMO won’t come until 1-2 seasons from now.

      • davidmuscalo

        That is very likely true, but I can see another scenario which will very likely not happen, but is remotely possible. It goes something like this: The new GM turns out to be a Swengali and talks Miller, Ott and Moulson into signing new contracts. He also picks up some offensive talent from other teams through trades or RFAs by using Miller as a hook to pull the talent into Buffalo. I think any talented player would be more than delighted to play for a team that is anchored by Miller and has enough talent to go all the way. I know it is a long shot, but It could happen quickly with a few well-planned and executed moves.

        • JHizzle75

          NOW you’re talking !

        • Jes

          Not a good idea with the two drafts coming up IMO David. Just take this rebuild in stride and don’t make any quick decisions or we will be in the same position again 3-4 years from now, in rebuild mode, We must add those 2-3 top end draft picks followed by adding the vets and so on and so forth.

          “I think any talented player would be more than delighted to play for a team that is anchored by Miller and has enough talent to go all the way.”

          That theory hasn’t worked when Hasek was here and it hasn’t worked since Miller’s been here so ya I doubt it’s going to happen.

          • davidmuscalo

            Different time different management. We now have the owner who is willing to pay for top quality players.

            As for the draft, except for Girgensons, Regiers NHL-ready draft is languishing in the minors and even top three draft picks don’t make it in the NHL.

            As for patience, I have been patient for 43 years. I want a cup now!

          • Jes

            “Different time different management. We now have the owner who is willing to pay for top quality players.”

            That doesn’t make a difference IMO. Buffalo hasn’t been a destination for players for how long? Not going to change now.

            NHL ready draftees languishing in the minors? Who? Grigorenko and Ristolainen? That’s all on Regier and his coaches for bringing them in to early. If they have the right training like they get in the minors they’d be up here as well.

            “As for patience, I have been patient for 43 years. I want a cup now!”

            I want a cup now also but that’s not going to happen. Going out and buying yourself players doesn’t work now and will not work in the future. Just look at the Rangers and Laughs. Look at us already dreading what we gave Leino. Best thing to do is stay out of the bidding, make a few trades for the near future like a Rattie type player and in a couple seasons time we will be back in the limelight.

          • davidmuscalo

            What about Adam, Armia, McNabb, etc. Let’s just agree to disagree and leave it that that.

          • Jes

            Adam was a no go two years ago. He should’ve been off the team awhile ago. Still have no clue what he’s doing within the organization.
            Armia wasn’t pegged as NHL ready. He was more pegged ready for the AHL more then anything else. So he shouldn’t even be mentioned in this conversation.
            McNabb is young guy, a rookie basically and Nolan being anti rookie I doubt many of the incoming rookies get a shot at proving themselves with anti-rookie Nolan here.

  • Richard Spalding

    The comments are interesting – the vote is almost 2:1 for naming Nolan head coach, yet the comments are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the interim tag. Very good points you guys and gals are making!

  • Ron Cianciosi

    Get moving on the GM hire, keep Nolan until the end of the season, and let the new GM do what he is supposed to do.

  • Chris

    The Sabres will not find another head coach who can and will motivate their team better than Ted Nolan…. His idea that his teams must ” compete”…. that is what coaching is all about…. Personally , I would sign Nolan as the coach and give him the Ok to bring in his own assistants…. Dont forget that the current assistants are the same group that helped get Ron Rolston fired…. I say, Nolan deserves to have his own men back there with him. There’s no telling what could happen then!

  • H. Gavan

    Sorry but you’re a blind homer. Nolan’s record is 7-11-3, despite epic
    performances from Ryan Miller. The Sabres are 5 points out of second
    last place overall. Nolan is coming off a stint as coach of the Latvian
    Olympic team. Last time he coached in the NHL, for the Islanders, his
    team was eliminated in the first round of the play-offs (by the Sabres)
    and the next year they didn’t make the playoffs and he was canned. How
    about waiting until he turns the Sabres into a team that consistently
    scores more than two goals a game before crowning him permanent coach?
    Don’t Buffalo fans care about winning anymore? Buffalo really
    needs a top notch GM and making Nolan permanent coach would severely
    limit candidates.

    • Gregoire Peelz

      First off, the article was written on Dec. 30, so, yes, Buffalo’s record has changed since then. Add one more win since your comment and Buffalo is now 5-3-2 in the last 10 games. The Sabres are in a serious rebuild process right now and I wouldn’t want anyone else but Mr. Nolan to help turn the ship around.

      • Gregoire Peelz

        Maybe you need to search Google to open your mind about what happened in Buffalo before with Ted Nolan and why his NHL coaching resume isn’t experienced enough to your expectations. Though Charles Wang was nice enough to give Mr. Nolan a job for the NYI in the past, lets face it, you don’t know the whole story behind why things didn’t work out over there. Ted Nolan deserves a little more respect than how you view him, let alone how you want others to think about him. Be patient for a rebuild in Buffalo. There’s a reason why the owners in Buffalo selected Pat LaFontaine, an NHL Hall of Famer and former Sabre All Star, to run the show. Who again did Pat LaFontaine choose first to coach his team and help turn things around? Ted Nolan.