One of the strangest chapters in coaching history finally found a successful ending for Ted Nolan on Wednesday. The former Buffalo Sabre head coach, who seemingly had been slipped the black ace for over eight years is finally back behind a bench.
Nolan will join the Moncton Wildcats organization as coach and Director of Hockey Operations for the Quebec Junior League squad as they prepare to host the Memorial cup in 2006. Nolan who was named coach of the year for 1997 while working in Buffalo, found himself out of professional hockey one year later. And while he was frequently named as a possible coaching candidate with every opening, he never seemed to make the final step back into the NHL ranks.
His move to Moncton should give that franchise a shot in the arm as they compete for next years Memorial Cup (the home team gets an automatic bye into Canada's Junior Championship) as well Nolan will no doubt provide a positive influence on the young players in the Wildcat organization.
Since his departure from the NHL Nolan has been working with Aboriginal youth across Canada, setting up programs for excellence which have by all accounts been well received.
He returns to the Junior ranks a forum which he found quite a bit of success in his formative years of coaching, taking the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to the national title in 1993.
Nolan's deal is for one year, which effectively makes him a hired gun, expected to come in and take the Wildcats on to the next step and Memorial Cup championship. A definite challenge is ahead for him, but success with such a short period of time to work with should go a long way to re-opening some of those NHL eyes that seemed to stay shut the last eight years.
It's about time he got another chance to coach, his departure has always been a puzzling bit of business from the NHL We hope he finds much success with his latest challenge. One thing is certain the Wildcats have suddenly increased their odds of holding a Memorial Cup in one year's time!