Tag: Pat Lafontaine

Ted Nolan

Interim no more: Sabres name Ted Nolan head coach


This time around, Ted Nolan isn’t going anywhere.

The Buffalo Sabres announced they’ve dropped the interim tag and signed Nolan to be the official head coach of the team.

“We are very happy to get this deal done and have Ted Nolan as our permanent head coach going forward,” Sabres GM Tim Murray said. “Teddy has proven time and again that he is an exceptional leader, motivator and teacher. He is exactly what we need in a head coach for our hockey team and we’re confident in his ability to guide our players and turn this team around.”

It’s reported Nolan signed a three-year extension with the team and that puts him in charge of the rebuild in Buffalo.

With the number of young guys that will be coming up through the Sabres system in the coming years (Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, and more) and the likelihood they could be adding Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, or Aaron Ekblad in the 2014 draft, having a guy in Nolan who has as much experience coaching juniors as he does will help.

Nolan took over for Ron Rolston on Nov. 13. After the Sabres started 4-15-1 under Rolston, they’ve gone 16-30-8 under Nolan and, in spite of numerous changes to the roster, have played more competently under Nolan.

There was doubt as to whether or not Nolan would want to stay in Buffalo after what happened when Pat LaFontaine resigned from the team, but after landing this opportunity to coach again in the NHL, it would’ve been tough to walk away.

Sabres address LaFontaine resignation, ready to move forward

Tim Murray, Pat LaFontaine

BUFFALO — Buffalo Sabres president Ted Black and general manager Tim Murray addressed the media about Pat LaFontaine’s sudden resignation from the organization.

After just over three months on the job, LaFontaine left the Sabres to return to the NHL where he was the vice president of hockey development.

“I found out a few days ago [about LaFontaine leaving],” Black said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to be announced or when.”

The “when” was answered on Saturday night.

Black said he knows it doesn’t look good from the outside for the team.

“It’s a lot for our fans to swallow in a short amount of time,” Black said. “The franchise goalie is traded, the former player hall of famer that was the president of hockey operations resigns. So it creates this same reaction you measure from your readers and from Twitter. It creates uncertainty. It’s something that fans are going to be upset by.”

With rumors of discord amongst members of the front office, both Black and Murray made it clear it was LaFontaine’s decision to resign and that he wasn’t fired. Of course, the timing of his departure came a day after the team traded superstar goalie Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues.

Front office shakeups after a trade are always going to get noticed, but Murray said he and LaFontaine worked together.

“We were on the same page,” Murray said. “I was brought in here for the rebuild and we were on the same page with that. I’ve been here for six weeks and probably on the road for four of those scouting. Every phone call I got concerning trades was relayed to Pat. There was never any indication that we weren’t on the same page.”

Given the timing of when LaFontaine said he wanted to leave, Murray said the former Sabres legend wasn’t consulted about the Miller deal.

Now the Sabres will have to put this distraction to bed as the trade deadline approaches on Wednesday and they have numerous players drawing interest around the league.

“For me it’s just about the hockey and it’s about continuing to talk trade, it’s about continuing to get ready for the draft, it’s about continuing to evaluate the hockey staff,” Murray said. “I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Reports: Sabres having front office problems

Pat LaFontaine, Terry Pegula

There’s never a dull moment in Buffalo, even in the middle of a terrible season.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie and CBC Sports’ Elliotte Friedman have reported there is a problem amongst the Sabres front office, and the bulk of the attention centers around team President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine.

Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News points out LaFontaine was scheduled to appear at a team function on Friday afternoon, but was a late cancellation.

LaFontaine was also nowhere to be seen at First Niagara Center on Friday night when the team completed a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Blues that sent franchise goalie Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott out of town. The only Sabres executive to speak on the trade was general manager Tim Murray.

If there are problems with LaFontaine, it’s not the first time it’s happened to him as an executive. He was a senior adviser to Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2006 and resigned from the position after six weeks on the job. LaFontaine was hired to his position with the Sabres on Nov. 13, 2013.

With the trade deadline coming up on Wednesday and LaFontaine being a major figure in the organization and with the team rebuild, this is a bad time to have a kerfuffle amongst the suits.

PHT Morning Skate: Alain Vigneault’s calming influence in New York

Alain Vigneault

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Apparently Alain Vigneault has a “calming influence” on the Rangers. Switching from John Tortorella to just about anyone would have that effect, right? (Winnipeg Free Press)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Yes, your team could have Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov and probably very easily, too. (TSN)

The Sharks have quite a few big name players who need new deals this summer. (ESPN)

Pat LaFontaine’s search for a new GM may lead to him hiring someone who has never held the position before. Don’t worry Sabres fans, that’s not as scary as it sounds. (The Score)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have an especially brutal schedule in December that the gang at Pension Plan Puppets are calling “Badvent.” Just think of an Advent calendar that gives you poison each day instead of chocolate. (PPP)

You won’t believe it, but Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t particularly like the Montreal Canadiens. (CSNNE.com)

Karl Alzner says the Capitals took the Carolina Hurricanes “way too lightly.” (CSNWashington.com)

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Buffalo Sabres

Alexander Mogilny

Things got a bit ugly sweater-wise in Buffalo for a long time. Now with Terry Pegula in charge and owning the team, the Sabres throwback look is as apropos as it gets. Pegula-mania didn’t just save the Sabres from failure, it also saved everyone from seeing things get a bit too modernized with how the Sabres look on the ice.

Best: When the Sabres came to be in 1970, they arrived on the scene with a logo that became legendary in Buffalo and around the NHL for hockey fans all over. With the round logo with a charging buffalo and crisscrossing swords (sabers if you will) and a set of home and road jerseys that were perfect, it was the home whites from the mid-80s until the mid-90s that grabbed your attention the most.

With the blue and gold shoulder yoke with the Sabres logo on the shoulders on top of the big logo on the front, when you saw the Sabres at home, it was a thing of beauty, especially with Pat Lafontaine and Alexander Mogilny doing their thing. No offense to the French Connection line of the 70s, of course.

Worst: If you didn’t think I was going to use this to pick on the “Buffaslug” uniforms that came about after the 2004-2005 lockout, you’re crazy. Buffalo wanted to get back to wearing blue and gold again after their era of going red and black with the “snarling goat” buffalo head logo but wanted to do so with a modern design. Bad move.

The Sabres new logo was too silly and really easy to make fun of. The “Buffaslug” was born and while it looked more like a hairpiece for Barney Rubble, the uniforms were equally stupidly designed with waves of color streaking through it and the number on the upper front right side of the jersey. Call it what you will, but most of all it was a comedy of errors that stuck around for just four seasons before they went full on for the modernized throwback look thanks to massive outrage from the fans in Buffalo and across the league.

Dark Ages: The Sabres were another team to go all in on changing to black and while they saw their biggest success with the black and red re-design from 1996-2006 ultimately making the Stanley Cup finals in 1999 on the back of Dominik Hasek, it was a design that never really felt right. Sure selling merch in black and red was good for a short while in the 1990s, it was a look that never really fit the team. Sometimes following fashion trends isn’t the greatest idea around.

Assessment: The Sabres modernized throwbacks to their original look was a pleasant relief after the Buffaslug years. There’s nothing to really get worked up about with their new duds. Sure the number on the front of the jersey still looks awkward and the gray patches underneath the arms make it look like the players have a major sweating problem, but the overall look of the team is perfect.

The old logo with added gray highlights elsewhere on an old style yet modern jersey looks fantastic. With Terry Pegula owning the team now, the turn-back-the-clock style makes even more sense now as he’s perhaps the biggest Sabres fan around. Things work out for a reason sometimes.