Buffalo GM Tim Murray didn’t think Ted Nolan was a “bad fit” as the head coach of the Sabres, but he wasn’t a “perfect” one, per the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. After interviewing the players today, his evaluation process ended with the firing of Nolan this evening.
“He’s a good man,” Murray said, according to the Sabres’ Twitter feed. “Today, I came to the decision that a change may help us improve.”
So the question now is, who would be Buffalo’s perfect fit? We likely won’t know who the next head coach of the Sabres will be for a while as Murray wants to wait for the pool of available head coaches to grow, which means waiting until after the playoffs. It also likely means waiting to see what happens with Mike Babcock in Detroit.
The Red Wings bench boss will become a free agent this summer unless he decides to re-sign with Detroit and he’s probably as close to a “perfect fit” as Buffalo could hope for. He’s arguably the most highly regarded coach in the business today with a Stanley Cup championship and two Olympic Gold Medals on his resume. He’s both led teams to greatness when they had the right pieces in place and has successfully navigated the Red Wings through some of their more difficult times in recent years.
Whether or not he’s willing to sign with Buffalo remains to be seen, but Babcock does have a history with Murray from their Anaheim days and owner Terry Pegula might be willing to write a very large check in order to get him, as Bob McKenzie noted. If Buffalo wins the draft lottery and thus selects Connor McDavid, then that would be yet another thing the Sabres could use to entice Babcock.
Even if they can’t get him though, there are other appealing options that might be available soon.