The Buffalo Sabres are in the midst of the worst season in team history, but owner Terry Pegula is taking measures to change that. Pegula has fired head coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier, according to the Sabres' official Twitter account.
Terry Pegula: "Last night I relieved Darcy Regier of his duties as Buffalo Sabres General Manager and Ron Rolston as our head coach" #Sabres— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 13, 2013
To replace Rolston and Regier, Ted Nolan has been named the interim head coach, and Pat LaFontaine is now president of hockey operations.
Pegula: Pat LaFontaine will be President of Hockey Operations. Ted Nolan will be #Sabres interim head coach, effective today.— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 13, 2013
This is a landmark day for the Sabres organization as Regier was one of the longest-tenured general managers in major professional sports. He was first hired by the Sabres in 1997, and he has presided over many of the best seasons in team history.
Since establishing itself as a model franchise in the two years after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, however, the Sabres have failed to make the playoffs consistently. Pegula ultimately determined that it was time to move on from Regier, but he had nothing but good things to say about his former GM, according to ESPN's Craig Custance.
Pegula on firing Regier: "I have a lot of respect for Darcy Regier. I even have more respect for him after I talked to him last night."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) November 13, 2013
Is this a smart move by the Sabres organization?
Unlike Regier, Rolston had only manned his post since the middle of last season following the firing of longtime head coach Lindy Ruff. Rolston served as the interim head coach last year before being named the permanent head coach this past offseason.
The Sabres have stumbled out of the gate to a 4-15-1 record, however, which cut Rolston's tenure short.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Rolston had one year remaining on his contract following this season prior to his termination.
Rolston has this season, plus one more remaining on his contract.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 13, 2013
While Buffalo is moving in a new direction, it has a decidedly old feel. LaFontaine is recognized not only as one of the greatest American hockey players of all time, but also as one of the greatest Sabres. He racked up 385 points in just 268 games for Buffalo as a player, and his No. 16 is retired by the organization.
According to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, LaFontaine plans to hire a general manager to replace Regier in the near future.
Patty says he has a short list for next GM.— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) November 13, 2013
Nolan also has a history with the Sabres as he coached the team from 1995 through 1997. He led an overachieving bunch to the Northeast Division title in 1996-97, but the Sabres organization decided against extending his contract.
Sabres fans remember Nolan's contributions fondly, and there is hope that his coaching style will mesh well with Buffalo's young roster. The Sabres provided a statement from Nolan discussing his goals for the team:
"I'm going to go in all guns ablazing here... change the culture." #Sabres Coach Ted Nolan— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 13, 2013
Nolan has not yet been named the permanent head coach. He has been given an interim label, but it is clear that he is happy to be back in Buffalo.
Nolan: "emotionally and spiritually, I never left. It's great to be back."— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) November 13, 2013
The Sabres tweeted a picture of him on the ice:
It is unlikely that the Sabres will be able to turn their 2013-14 season around after such a horrendous start, but the organization clearly needed some new voices, and that is precisely what it now has.
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