At approximately 10:30 AM Eastern this morning, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula organized what he called a “major press conference.” Had I known this then, I’d have been sitting in this chair watching it instead of sleeping.
Around noon, I woke up, and I rolled over to grab my phone to see what time it was. I had notifications from both the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL’s official apps. The Sabres notification read that Pat LaFontaine was named President of Hockey Operations, and that Ted Nolan would be serving as interim head coach. Unfortunately, the app didn’t have the story, just the notification. The NHL app notification read pretty much the same way, but the article was there to read.
And read I did.
Mr. Pegula finally told long-time Sabres GM Darcy Regier to pack up and go, his services no longer necessary. “And take your shitty coach with you,” I’d like to imagine that the second half of that conversation went. Pegula hired two men who he knew the fans would immediately take to – former Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine, and former Sabres coach Ted Nolan.
Nolan has had a history of success in his short time at what is now known as the First Niagara Center, before leaving in 1997. A spat with former Sabres star goaltender Dominik Hasek is long rumored to be the main reason Nolan left the organization despite being named the 1997 Jack Adams Award winner for Coach of the Year.
LaFontaine is best remembered by Sabres fans as one of our greatest players of all time. Rick Jeanneret’s famous calls of “Pat La-la-la-la-la-la-LaFontaine” are ingrained in our memories so very clearly. He will certainly be welcomed back with open arms to the organization.
While it remains to be seen whether this will improve the on-ice product (and I certainly don’t expect it to, at least not immediately), it’s a welcome boost of morale to me as a Sabres fan, and I’m sure, based on the buzz on Facebook and Twitter about the news, that extends to a majority of the fanbase as well. #LetsGoBuffalo.