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.