Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sabres call on LaFontaine and Nolan to turn around dire situation

With the Buffalo Sabres season spiralling towards what appeared to be an abyss, the Sabres owner Terry Pegula decided to reach into the recent past, to try and turn around the woeful nature of hockey in Western New York.

Out are coach Ron Rolston and General Manager Darcy Regier, with Ted Nolan making his return to Buffalo to take up the challenge of reversing the many negatives that have dogged the Sabres since the season began.

Nolan, who left Buffalo sixteen years ago amid much controversy, will join Sabres legend Pat LaFontaine, who was named President on Wednesday.

LaFontaine, outlined his plan in moving the Sabres forward, with a search now on to find a General Manager to launch the rebuilding program that clearly is needed in Buffalo.

Where Nolan will fit into that program is yet to be divined, since the GM's position will be filled as they move along in the 2013-14 season.

The returning coach, one of the most popular in Sabres history, will have the interim tag hoisted upon him, auditioning we imagine for full time status whenever the new GM is announced.

That in a nutshell kind of explains the dysfunction of Buffalo of late, where decisions, even the ones that appear to be right, somehow get twisted around as resulting in more confusion than anything else.

Pegula now heading into his third year of ownership with Buffalo, has frequently proclaimed that he
has a strong desire to return the Sabres to their one time lofty placement among NHL teams.

His patience with the old regime seemingly ran its course over the last few months, while perhaps a little late to his eureka moment, he is to be credited with finally realizing the dire nature of where his team was heading.

His corrective measures of this week, by way of a pair of twin announcements has found quick favour beyond Buffalo's media, but deep inside the fan base as well.

The move to bring Nolan back as coach and instill some respectable leadership at the top of the Sabres organization at least gives the long suffering fans of the team hope that the nightmares of the last few years may finally be at an end.

Make no mistake, the wins won't be piling up any time soon, it's clearly a moment for the team to step back and re draft their plan moving ahead, but Nolan will bring some discipline and expectations for the young Sabres squad. There will be no passengers on the Sabres bench, performance and attitude will dictate ice time, those that won't buy in, we imagine will soon be finding a new locker in some other NHL city.

Nolan clearly has longed for a return to the NHL since his departure from the Islanders of five years ago, this opportunity, short or as long as it may be, provides him with the platform to show that those who doubted his resolve of the past were quite wrong in their assessment.

For most observers of hockey, the handling of his departure by Regier and the Sabres ownership of the time, was a rather disturbing moment in Sabres history, as though the team had somehow misplaced the current of respect and accountability that the Sabres were known for.

LaFontaine, the iconic Sabre will help to bring back the Sabres brand in a city that embraces the team as though family, the last few years providing as stern a test to those ties as there ever has been.

His mission is to tap into the underlying goodwill of Sabres fans, as dedicated a collection of fans as any team could ever hope to have.

Showing them that he is listening, acting and preparing the path to not only competing, but succeeding offering up tangible steps to return a sense of ownership of the team to the  vast expanse of Western New York and Southern Ontario that live and breath Sabres Blue and Gold.

As for the Sabres roster, the carnival atmosphere of recent weeks may finally have been driven out of town, the departure of Rolston and Regier a final break with the litany of moves and developments that had many in hockey talking about the Sabres, but for all the wrong reasons.

Those discussions may soon be but historical anecdotes, a regime has been put in place, the players that can play and have a place in hockey will finally get a glimpse of the importance of hockey to the Buffalo region and in return, should they take up the challenge they'll receive the reward of a community that always has respect for those that put in the effort.

It's a concept rather familiar to the new President and his head coach. In a city where hard work is a mantra, the time for the hockey club to punch in at the time clock has arrived.

Buffalo News-- LaFontaine, Nolan must rebuild bridges Regier burned
Buffalo News-- LaFontaine's goal as Sabres President of Hockey Operations: Restore the Faith
Buffalo News-- It's back to the future for Sabre as Lafontaine, Nolan return to fix a broken team
Buffalo News-- Nolan gets back to work with nothing to prove
Buffalo News-- Players hit reset button amid changes in Sabreland
Buffalo News-- Darcy Regier's tenure one of hit's and misses
CBC-- Pat LaFontaine, Ted Nolan return to Sabres
Globe and Mail-- Familiar faces LaFontaine, Nolan return to struggling Buffalo Sabres
National Post-- Coaching merry-go-round alive and well as Buffalo Sabres hire Ted Nolan
Toronto Star-- Sabres go back to the future, bring back LaFontaine, Nolan to fix current disaster
Toronto Star--  Buffalo Sabre clean house, bring back Pat LaFontaine, hire Ted Nolan as interim coach

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