Sabres announce Pat LaFontaine resigns as president of hockey operations


It was only in November that Pat LaFontaine was hired as the new president of hockey operations for the Buffalo Sabres.

On the first day of March, it’s been announced that he resigned the position and will return to his previous position with the National Hockey League. The Sabres made it official via Twitter on Saturday evening.

This news comes after multiple reports broke earlier in the day that the Sabres were having problems in the front office, with Lafontaine as a central figure.

“I would like to thank Pat for all he has done for the organization,” said Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula in a statement. “Pat joined us at a very difficult time and helped us transition the organization down a new path. Tim Murray will continue as general manager and Craig Patrick will continue as a senior hockey advisor.

“As has been the case since I bought the team, we’ll continue to do whatever is needed to rebuild the organization and keep it on path towards our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

At the beginning of October, Lafontaine got a job with the NHL, working alongside Brendan Shanahan, head of the Department of Player Safety, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

This has been an interesting few days with the Sabres. And that may be an understatement.

On Friday, the Sabres pulled off a massive blockbuster deal, trading goalie Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a third-round draft pick in 2016.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.