“It’s tough,” an emotional Nolan said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “I don’t even want to think about it right now, to tell you the truth. It’s that tough.”
Nolan hasn’t spoken to LaFontaine in the past couple of days and called his departure a “big surprise.”
“Everyone knows what kind of man Patty is,” he said. “They don’t come much better than him.”
Of course, now Nolan’s future here is in doubt.
LaFontaine brought Nolan back to the Sabres on Nov. 13, his first move as president. It appeared Nolan, who’s popular with his players and the team’s rabid fan base, would be awarded an extension at some point soon.
Nolan acknowledged he has talked to management about a contract.
“Right now is not about my contract,” he said. “It’s about the situation that just happened, what transpired in this organization, what happened to a very dear friend. We’ll leave it at that.”
He has said in the recent past he wants to keep coaching the Sabres.
“Several times I did,” Nolan said. “But right now’s not the time to discuss that.”
Nolan sounded like someone who knows he’ll be moving on soon. He said he’s experiencing “emotional roller coaster.”
With the team undergoing a major overhaul – franchise goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott were traded Friday – he wants to concentrate on his players.
“That was the main reason I got here is to try to turn things around and coach the Buffalo Sabres,” Nolan said. “Right now, especially, I’m going to really concentrate on that because we traded our franchise player. We traded our captain. That’s tough enough as it is. Then, all of a sudden, a situation happens with Patty.”
In other news, winger Chris Stewart, acquired in Friday’s blockbuster deal with St. Louis, will make his Sabres debut Monday in Dallas. Goalie Jaroslav Halak, the subject of trade rumors before he even landed in Buffalo, won’t play. Both practiced today.
Center Tyler Ennis (general body soreness) will return from a two-game absence Monday.