Who’s next?

Pat LaFontaine was all smiles this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Reeling Sabres fire Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston, hire fan favorites Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan

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Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald

BUFFALO – Pat LaFontaine was crossing the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge on Tuesday when a customs official realized the former Sabres superstar was in the car.

“He said, ‘You should be running the Sabres,” LaFontaine said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

Little did that official know LaFontaine was about to become the Sabres’ new president of hockey operations.

In a stunning move today, the 4-15-1 club fired Darcy Regier, the general manager since 1997, and Ron Rolston, who became the regular coach in May, and named popular former Sabres coach Ted Nolan the interim coach the rest of the season.

“It’s interesting how things come full circle,” said LaFontaine, who will begin searching for a general manager.

Why now? Why didn’t this happen when owner Terry Pegula purchased the team or when the Sabres missed the playoffs the last two seasons?

“I just decided,” Pegula said. “That’s the only answer I can give you. When you work together, sometimes you get to the point a change is needed. Darcy Regier had a heck of a run with the Buffalo Sabres. … It’s not like he was a failure.”

But he was wildly unpopular with a disenchanted fan base and had created the NHL’s worst team, helping the Sabres become a laughingstock.

LaFontaine, who played under Nolan, believes he will restore pride.

“I’ve asked Teddy to come in right now, just restore what we believe, just change the culture right now, get everybody on board,” LaFontaine said.

Nolan, who was only offered a one-year contract by Regier after winning the Jack Adams Award in 1996-97, broke down while discussing his return.

“If I had a perfect crystal ball to pick one place that I would like to (coach), this would certainly (be a place) that I can do it, especially with the people,” Nolan said.

This was a quick process. LaFontaine said he first met with Pegula 10 days ago.

“One thing led to another, and it’s like, ‘Wow, this guy’s pretty impressive,’” Pegula said.

Now, LaFontaine’s running the Sabres.

Check back later for MUCH more.

7 comments
  1. P. Ebert says: 11.13.136:58 pm

    It’s about time. So exciting to be a fan right now and I just can’t wait to see who the GM will be. Messier? Rick Dudley?

  2. David says: 11.13.137:01 pm

    Well, this probably means we won’t get the first overall pick. But long term, this is very good.

  3. keith says: 11.13.137:07 pm

    Great move. Bringing in smart people (sakic neely) is the way to go. Pat should personify that as well and love Nolan to motivate.

  4. Andrew says: 11.13.137:13 pm

    We said rebuild and this is the right direction, a coach good with young players and Pat who is a peoples person and has many connections, I love the move. I hope Nolan stays on the team as a head coach and now we wait for the GM

  5. Kevin says: 11.13.137:20 pm

    The thing that worries me is, why would the Sabres hire a coach before hiring a GM? What if they find a GM they want to hire wants to bring in his own coach. Now, having said that, It is most likely if the Sabres are doing well under Nolan. I doubt the GM is going to change the coach, especially him being a fan favorite.

  6. Jan says: 11.14.132:32 am

    Firing Regier and Rolston and hiring LaFontaine and Nolan is the beginning of a long road towards rebuilding this team. Lafontaine is really going to look for a GM that can devise a plan to start turning things around. Nolan knows he’s an interim coach but he’ll take the opportunity (and hopefully lessons learned) to show that he can coach in the NHL. I think Nolan’s role is to motivate this team and offer his opinion on the players. Lots of questions–does Zadorov go back to juniors? who goes to Rochester? who gets brought up from Rochester? who should be traded and/or bought out and should that be done asap?

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