BUFFALO – Pat LaFontaine believes you put people together and let them do what they do best.
“They’re good at what they do and together they’ll be better,” the president of hockey operations said Thursday after naming Tim Murray the Sabres’ new general manager.
Murray’s now together with Ted Nolan, the interim coach LaFontaine named in November.
What’s going to happen?
“Ted is my guy right now,” Murray said inside the First Niagara Center prior to the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.
Murray said he knows Nolan “from arenas.”
“I’ve seen him in arenas watching games, whether he was watching his kid or scouting for Sault Ste. Marie,” Murray said. “I’ve known him for a long time on a casual basis. He’s the coach of this team. I got the job (Wednesday) night. I’m going to come in here and try to establish a relationship with Ted, his coaching staff, get to know them.
“But he’s the coach right now. Whatever happens going forward will determine everything else. But there’s no preconceived notions.”
LaFontaine, who played under Nolan and has vouched for him, said Murray likes Nolan and wants to get to know him.
“I think it took a general manager with a very open mind to understand who’s there now and be willing to give Teddy the opportunity, because he is a great coach, and Teddy’s proved it himself,” LaFontaine said.
Murray added: “I was never told if I took this job I had to keep Ted Nolan as coach.”
LaFontaine, who believes Nolan’s “doing a great job right now,” said “it’s about trust.”
“Teddy trusts the process,” he said. “I think Tim believes he’s doing a great job. Here’s the thing, when you’re going through this process and you’re in 30th place, you have to stick together. I think Tim, as he gets to know Teddy, I’ll be anxious to see how he feels.”
While Murray “would have a huge say in what happens and how he likes the coach,” LaFontaine, as his boss, will have a big say.
“If Teddy’s the right guy for the job and Tim feels that way and I feel that way and as a hockey operations team, Teddy’s going to be here as the next head coach,” LaFontaine said. “I think he’s doing a great job.”
Nolan, who watched Murray’s introduction from the front row, said he hadn’t spoken to his new boss.
“My status has always been the same since Pat asked me to come here,” Nolan said. “I’m going to coach this team as best I can. I’m not worried about tomorrow. I’m just worried about here today. I really mean that in a sincere way.”
Nolan, who also coached the Sabres from 1995 to 1997, wants to stay.
“Oh, definitely,” he said. “I made no secret about it. If I had a crystal ball and I could pick one place to do this job in the best league in the world and the best city in the world, this would be the place.”
Nolan wants to build a relationship with Murray.
“I think once Tim sees the type of guy I am, hopefully he likes it and we continue,” he said.
Nolan said he hadn’t been paying attention to the GM search.
“My main focus is really trying to learn this team,” he said.