Sabres Housecleaning Now Complete — Dale’s View
Since late last season when the Buffalo Sabres were playing at their worst and the fans at First Niagara Center were so quiet you'd think they were paying their respects at the funeral of a friend, there was one fan who would always bellow "Fire Regier." He always picked the perfect time to do it too, because everybody was thinking the same thing.
It was time for a change. On Wednesday, that change came, and along with general manager Darcy Regier, head coach Ron Rolston was also let go.
It's about time. For Regier, it's seven years overdue. The beginning of the end for him came in July of 2007 when, through his mismanagement, his co-captains Danny Briere and Chris Drury signed free agent contracts with other teams. The Sabres got nothing in return except for a huge hole in their lineup. I've been furious at Regier ever since.
As for Rolston...I've never been sold on his tactics or his style. The players kept saying they liked him, but they certainly didn't play for him. There was some disconnect there. And Rolston is one of the most boring speakers in sports. He never elaborated on any question. All he did was give "coach speak". If that's the way he spoke to the players, he must have been boring them to death.
So now a new regime comes in with two of the most beloved people in the history of the franchise. Pat LaFontaine is now the Sabres Head of Hockey Operations, and Ted Nolan returns as head coach on an interim basis. Knowing what he meant to the team and the area, LaFontaine is a better man than a hockey player...and he's in the Hall of Fame. It means that what he says is gold. He'd do anything for you, and he wants the Buffalo Sabres to be champions.
He says he has a short list of candidates to fill the general manager's office.
And Ted Nolan? LaFontaine played for him and he knows what an inspirational coach he can be.
Interesting that Nolan returns the day after Darcy Regier was fired. It was Regier who offered him just a one-year contract when Regier was a freshman general manager. Nolan turned it down and claims he may have left Buffalo, but his heart was always right here.
There's a lot of work to be done. The team will see continuing changes, but what Wednesday's moves do is buy the team time. The fans got what they wanted -- the firing of Regier.
So what's next? I trust LaFontaine and Nolan will produce results, but the fans will have to be patient. That's no different than what Regier was asking for, but with new people in place now, you really have to be patient.
It'll take at least a few weeks to see any results on the ice, but it'll be Nolan behind the Sabres bench beginning Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.