NEW TEAM MANAGEMENT: From L, Sabres Team Pres. Ted Black, newly named interim Coach Ted Nolan, Owner Terry Pegula and new President of Hockey Ops Pat LaFontaine. (WBEN Photo/Brian Mazurowski)
(WBEN) The Buffalo Sabres fired General Manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston Wednesday, announcing that former Sabres Coach Ted Nolan will take over behind the bench on an interim basis and former player Pat LaFontaine has been hired as President of Hockey Operations.
LaFontaine moves into a newly created position and says he will be responsible for selecting an eventual replacement for Regier. Nolan's interim coaching duties will last for the remainder of the current season.
WBEN EXTRA: Hear the Sabres Announcement
The moves come as the team has been floundering. Buffalo edged Los Angeles 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night to avoid tying the worst home start in NHL history. The Sabres are off to a 4-15-1 start, the worst in franchise history, and chants of "Fire Darcy," have been heard often at recent games. The moves occur almost a full month after the team denied increasing fan pressure would lead to firing Regier (pictured R).
Former Buffalo Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine in a Nov. 2004 photo (AP)
"Now, we need the patience from the fans. We are in this for the long run and there is a system set up right now, but there are a lot of ways to build a team,"
--Pat LaFontaine, Buffalo Sabres President of Hockey Operations
" Going forward I will be looking for the next general manager. I have a little bit of a list.. but I can't tell you who's they are right now."
LaFontaine starred for the Sabres from 1991-97 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. He started a job as senior executive for the NHL in October and before that was a manager with the New York Islanders .
Both LaFontaine and Nolan gave only a few clues about the direction they'd like to take the team, with LaFontaine saying "change won't happen overnight," and that he'll begin "filling the holes now." Nolan said he "wants people who can compete', and spoke of bringing in more players like former Sabres Brad May, Matthew Barnaby or Rob Ray: "players with a certain element," he said.
LaFontaine said the status of Goalie Ryan Miller (R), often the subject of trade rumors, is "Something they have to address." He didn't elaborate.
For Nolan (Left) , it will be his second go-round as Sabres head coach. He went 73-72-19 in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, losing in the Conference Semifinals his second year.
"Words can't express how excited I really am," Nolan said. " I'd like to thank the Pegula family for bestowing such an honor on me, coming back to a city that I may have left physically, but emotionally and spiritually I never really left.
This (city) is a big part of my life. A big part of who I am."
--Sabres Interim Head Coach Ted Nolan
The team will keep all the assistant coaches that worked under Rolston, Nolan said.
Rolston (pictured R) was 19-26-6 in his brief tenure as Buffalo coach.
Regier was hired as GM of the club in the summer of 1997; he named Rolston as head to replace Lindy Ruff last February.
Official Release from the Buffalo Sabres:
SABRES HIRE LaFONTAINE AS PRESIDENT OF HOCKEY OPERATIONS, NOLAN AS INTERIM HEAD COACH
Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston relieved of duties with team
BUFFALO, N.Y. (November 13, 2013) --- Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula today announced that Pat LaFontaine has been hired to serve as President of Hockey Operations for the team. Pegula also announced that Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston have been relieved of their respective duties. Ted Nolan has been hired as the team’s interim head coach and the Sabres have retained the remainder of the coaching staff.
LaFontaine joins the Sabres after beginning the season as vice president of development and community affairs for the NHL. He will work with Assistant General Manager Kevin Devine on day-to-day hockey operations while conducting the search for the Sabres’ next general manager.
LaFontaine enjoyed an illustrious 15-year career, including six seasons with the Sabres, before retiring from the NHL in 1998 as the second highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history with 468 goals and 1,013 points in 865 games. Today, he ranks sixth among all Americans in goals and ninth in points, and his 1.17 points-per-game average ranks 11th among the 79 1,000-point scorers in NHL history.
He had a career year for Buffalo in 1992-93 when he set Sabres records for points (148) and assists (95) in a season. After being sidelined by a knee injury for most of the 1993-94 season, he returned as team captain in 1994-95 and was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey. LaFontaine played with the Sabres from 1991-1997, finishing with 385 points (158+227) in 268 games with the team.
Nolan re-joins the Sabres after coaching the team to a 73-72-19 record in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, a stint during which he became the franchise’s first Jack Adams Award winner following a first-place Northeast Division finish in 1996-97. Nolan later spent two seasons as head coach of the New York Islanders, guiding the Islanders to a 74-68-21 record during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Nolan began his NHL coaching career as an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers in 1994-95 after building a successful resume in junior hockey that culminated with a Memorial Cup win in 1993-94 in his sixth and final season as head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL). Prior to his coaching career, Nolan tallied 22 points (6+16) in 78 NHL games as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.