Buffalo Sabres Made The Right Move In Firing Ted Nolan


Less than 24 hours after the Buffalo Sabres wrapped up their season, the team announced the firing of head coach Ted Nolan. The reaction among fans was mixed, but in the end, Nolan’s firing was the right move for a rebuilding team that will be picking up either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel come June.

Sure, not all of that is on the coach, but when you’re looking to better a team moving forward, sometimes it’s the first place to start. It’s easier to cut out a few coaches than release half the team — not to mention, many of the guys who suited up in the blue and gold this season will be free agents this summer and may not be back.

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Nolan surely didn’t have things easy this season. Everyone knew the expectation was that the team was going to be bad, the season was going to be rough, but that in the end, it would be worth it. I’m sure that coming into a coaching situation in that atmosphere isn’t easy.

The plain and simple fact is that disregarding any expectations, talks of “tanking” or the like — the team finished 30th with a dismal record, and the coaching staff is often the first one to point the finger at. Many fans claim it was an unfair move to fire Nolan, and maybe it was (or maybe it wasn’t), but the team is moving forward and it’s time to focus on acquiring a coach that will help this team to a Stanley Cup, help players grow and ultimately, help the team to succeed.

From scrolling through some of the reactions on Twitter and the like, I’ve seen more than one person claim that Nolan is a great guy and that we shouldn’t be celebrating his being fired. But the fact is, being a good hockey coach that meshes with the team and takes it in the right direction has absolutely nothing to do with a guy’s merits.

Do I feel for the guy, who’s now out of a job? Yes. But that doesn’t mean the Sabres should’ve kept him around if it wasn’t going to work going forward. For all we know, he’ll find another coaching job, be it in the NHL, in juniors (where he’s had success at both the OHL and QMJHL levels) or overseas… perhaps in Latvia?

In all fairness, I was never a fan of the idea of bringing back an old coach to the Sabres organization. From the day that Nolan was announced as the team’s interim coach in mid-November, to the day they removed the ‘interim’ tag back in March 2014, I never quite got on board with re-hiring a guy who just never seemed to impress me as a coach before, and who had led his team to the playoffs in two of four NHL seasons. Meh.

Leave the 1995-1997 Buffalo Sabres in the past where they belonged, I said. I stand with that statement today. Was I surprised at the firing of Nolan? A little. While I expected it to some degree, it was still surprising to see it actually carried out. I thought perhaps there was a chance that Nolan got a chance to stay on next season and then, after that, be evaluated again.

Now, perhaps, we can finally move into the present day and move forward with a number of great pieces. Either McDavid or Eichel will likely be on this team’s roster in October, along with Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and other promising talents. Free agents will be attracted to this team and there will undoubtedly be some solid signings at the hands of GM TM.

A new head coach behind the bench, along with a new crop of assistants, will be just the finishing touch required for a winning recipe going forward.

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