The Buffalo Sabres (a.k.a. the NHL’s worst team) announced major changes today. Longtime general manager Darcy Regier has been fired, as has head coach Ron Rolston. Hired are Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations, a newly created position, and Ted Nolan as interim head coach.
Both LaFontaine and Nolan have ties to the Sabres and have worked together in the past. The former starred for the club from 1991 to 1997; the latter coached the team for two seasons, from 1995-97. (Click here for more on that.)
Sabres owner Terry Pegula announced the changes at a press conference.
“Why now? I guess I just decided it was the time,” he said, per NHL.com. “Sometimes you get to the point where a change is needed.”
LaFontaine said he’ll be “actively searching for the next general manager” and already has a short list of candidates.
“I don’t have the experience right now in the general manager’s job,” he said. “But I know people and I know people out there who know how to do the job. I think putting together the right people to build that team and working together, that’s my strength. … I think my strengths are people and making sure everyone’s on board and doing their job. I told [Pegula], I said I could probably grow into that [GM] position but right now I think I could best serve you by building the hockey operations side of things.”
Nolan said the goal is to change the culture of the struggling team. He also confirmed that assistant coaches Teppo Numminen, Joe Sacco, Jerry Forton will remain on the staff.
The Sabres are 4-15-1 after 20 games and sit 30th in the NHL standings. Last February, they fired longtime head coach Lindy Ruff after a 6-10-1 start, replacing him with Rolston.