Report: Nolan, Sabres closing in on three-year extension


Buffalo and head coach Ted Nolan are closing in on a three-year extension, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports.

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.

Not to say it’s all gone smoothly.

Last month, there were questions surrounding Nolan’s future when Pat LaFontaine, who was hired as club president at the same time Nolan got the head coaching gig, parted ways with the Sabres in what was, reportedly, not an amicable split.

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.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

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.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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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:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?