Feb 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma during practice the day before a Stadium Series hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ted Nolan's New Bench Bosses?

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In a drastic turn of events, head coach Ted Nolan cleaned out his coaching staff as soon as the season came to a close, offering reassignments to assistant coaches Joe Sacco and Jerry Forton elsewhere within the organization, while ending the contracts of Teppo Numminen and Jim Corsi.

Clearly Nolan has his eyes set on recreating who he deals out his power to.

Mar 13, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

While no new news has emerged with the coaching positions, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some calls being made.

Each year, some coach somewhere loses their job, but their ability to lead and the values they instill all hold value, and while Buffalo does need to focus on putting players on the ice that will perform, they need to be as equally focused at putting together a strong bench staff that will take these players, both a mix of rookies, 1st-2nd year players and veterans and utilize them in Nolan’s system.

When Nolan took over back in November, he didn’t have his own staff. Instead, he was served a dish of a mixture of coaches from the Ruff and Rolston coaching staffs, making him coach the remainder of the season with people who he genuinely didn’t know, didn’t interview and based on the season’s end didn’t work well with.

But alas! It is now the long haul back, one where Nolan assumes total control and is holding a fire sale of the staff, looking to install his own regime and hire his own coaches, one he knows will stand for his “hardest working team” mentality.

Of course every coach dreams of having the head job, being able to call the shots, but unfortunately, there are only 30 teams, and Nolan is the boss of this organization. So the prospective hires have to know that it’s his way, or the Thruway.

Plenty of coaches have lost their job is the past few years, and it’s always someone being relieved of their duties year in and year out, some of the notable include:

  1. John Tortorella- Since 2000, Tortorella has been with three clubs, each tenure decreasing slightly less from the Tampa Bay Lightning (2000-2008) to New York Rangers (1999, 2008-2013) to this past season with the Vancouver Canucks (2013-2014), who released him earlier this month. While I don’t believe Torts will be making the trip to the Queen City, if Nolan wants a screamer, give him a call. Tortorella may not be the kind of assistant that Nolan needs, but he is a big name and has had some successes, winning a Stanley Cup in his time with Tampa. It would almost bring the coaching staff full-circle again, after doing sometime here in the early 90’s as the assistant coach.
  2. Adam Oates- Only having two seasons under his belt may not hold a lot of value, but I think Oates would be a decent addition to the staff if Nolan gave him a look. While not having great success with the Washington Capitals, he does have some credibility when it comes to development. Much like Sacco, Oates has a great knack for working young guys and helping get them NHL-developed and successful. Oates played a huge role in the development of Steven Stamkos when he signed on with the Lightning for the 2009-2010 season, from there he went to the New Jersey Devils, earning respect as a hardworking type of coach, helpful in the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Final, despite losing in six games to the LA Kings.
  3. Barry Trotz- The former Nashville Predators coach will need a new place to call home and work, what better place than a team that needs some veteran coaching leadership behind a hardworking-mentality coach like Nolan? Never holding another position other than the head coach of the Predators, Trotz will most likely look for a vacancy to fill, and what better than behind a newly rebounding team? His overall record of 557-479-60 is one that should be praised, even though his struggles in the offseason does not help his chances.
  4. Kevin Dineen- The man who was behind the former associated Portland Pirates when Buffalo had their time there, Kevin Dineen had his small chance as the head boss in Florida with the Panthers, topping the former southeast division in his first season as head coach, only to be ousted by the New Jersey Devils, who would eventually go on for a chance at the cup that year. It’s no secret that Dineen had a miserable outing, but he does have some potential to be a leader in Nolan’s system. He has won gold, coaching the Canadian women’s team in this past Winter Olympic in Sochi, along with being able to resurrect a struggling team, a type of coach that Buffalo needs, in my opinion.

I will even throw in a wild card, despite numerous rumors saying he will remain in charge, Dan Bylsma, current head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, may be soon looking for another sheet of ice to call his office when a new GM finds his seat in the Penguins organization. Looking at this, when a team struggles, sometimes a fire sale is what is needed to refresh a team. Hence what Buffalo pulled off this season when they ousted Darcy Regier, long after what many considered too long with one organization.

But why would Bylsma work well? Well he may not have spent much time there, but he does have a working knowledge of the minor leagues, spending time with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins before assuming control of the Penguins in 2009. From there, he took talent in Sydney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and various others to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it in his first season as the boss. Since then, Pittsburgh has not finished anything less than 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Bylsma created consistency within the organization, when Crosby went down with concussion, it was Malkin who was Bylsma’s go-to man. Even without one of the best playmakers they had, the Penguins forged on, and did a pretty decent job of it. Plus having the job as the head coach of the US Men’s Olympic team has some extreme value.

Would he come here? Probably not, but if Nolan really has the keys to the kingdom, I would be on the phone immediately to give him a call.

Overall, there a lot of options on the market, some who are freshly fired or have been sitting on the market waiting for the right team to give them a chance. Keep your eye on SabreNoise for more updates as they come to light and your spot for all the best news Buffalo Sabres related!

Feel free to tweet at me or follow me @seanmcgrath44 with any questions! Don’t forget that our [email protected] is waiting for the questions you may have!

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