BUFFALO – Sabres president Ted Black understands Pat LaFontaine’s stunning resignation as president of hockey operations creates uncertainty for a team that had finally seemed to stabilize itself.
“It’s something that fans are going to be upset by,” Black said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center, a day after LaFontaine abruptly bolted from the organization after less than four months.
Still, Black said, LaFontaine was only one person.
“I don’t know if it impacts the greater mission and will deter us,” he said.
Rumors are swirling the Sabres forced LaFontaine out in some sort of power struggle. Black was adamant LaFontaine resigned from the newly created position and wasn’t fired.
“Pat LaFontaine resigned,” said Black, who characterized Sabres owner Terry Pegula as “disappointed.”
LaFontaine’s hand-picked interim coach, Ted Nolan, was rocked by his close friend’s exit. An emotional Nolan said earlier today he didn’t want to discuss his future.
Sabres general manager Tim Murray, however, said he wants Nolan to stay. The Sabres are still negotiating with Nolan, he said.
“We want him to come back,” Murray said. “I don’t know what he’s thinking. We’re just going down that road. So I guess I’ll get an answer shortly.”
Is Murray concerned Nolan doesn’t want to be here?
“I just want people that want to be here,” he said. “If he wants to be here, I want him to be our coach. I can’t speculate whether he does or not. I’m not going to beg anyone to come and work here. … We want Teddy to be our coach moving forward.”
Black said Murray will assume some of LaFontaine’s responsibilities. The Sabres won’t search for a new hockey president.
Murray, who was hired by LaFontaine on Jan. 9, said he was on the same page with his boss. LaFontaine wasn’t involved in Friday’s blockbuster Ryan Miller trade with St. Louis, he said.