Nolan, 55, was hired in mid-November to replace the beleaguered Ron Rolston, who was fired after a 4-15-1 start to the campaign. It was a big move in Buffalo as it reunited the club with one of its most successful head coaches in recent memory — Nolan coached the Sabres from 1995-97, winning the Jack Adams in ’97 on the strength of a 40-win campaign.
Nolan was unceremoniously fired after winning the Adams but, 17 years later, returned to lead the club through its rebuilding process. He’s currently 15-26-7 this year but has been credited with his ability to coax maximum effort out of his less-than-talented squad, and teaching the Sabres’ youngsters how to play at the NHL level.
It was unclear at the time if new Sabres GM Tim Murray thought Nolan was as good a fit for the Sabres as LaFontaine did. Based on today’s news, it appears Murray does.
It’s worth noting that Nolan’s best coaching job of the year might’ve actually come outside the NHL. He led Latvia to an impressive eighth-place finish at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, getting his undermanned squad to fight hard in groups stage losses to Switzerland (1-0), the Czech Republic (4-2) and Sweden (5-3) before beating the Swiss in the qualification playoff round.
The Latvians then threw a huge scare into Canada in the tournament quarterfinals before eventually losing, 2-1.
It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.
To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:
The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)
That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:
They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.
Cheap shot on a superstar, a little uncalled goalie interference and presto – Blue Jackets win!
The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.
That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:
Coach Bylsma: Feel like after Jack's goal, the game changed for us. #gamechanger