Mikhail Grigorenko changed his mind Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ted Nolan on Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko: ‘The tail can’t wag the dog’

BUFFALO – Interim coach Ted Nolan spoke bluntly today about prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, who initially refused the Sabres’ assignment to junior before accepting it late Sunday.

“We can’t control what people do and what they say, but we can certainly control how we’re going to run this organization and what we feel is necessary for the development of young players,” Nolan said following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “The tail can’t wag the dog; the dog wags the tail.

“We feel as an organization it’s best for him to develop in junior hockey. That’s not taking anything away from him. He’s got some skills and he’s got some ability. But in order to play at this level we just need a little bit more.”

Grigorenko’s agent, Jay Grossman, told the Times Herald on Sunday “there were some real serious concerns about the development process” for the center, who’s playing for his seventh coach in a year.

“I certainly have not seen that or experienced that,” Grossman said.

Can Nolan appreciate what Grigorenko’s going through?

“You got to make the best of whatever situation you’re in,” he said. “If he learns at a young age, it’s even better. But you will learn to adapt and to adjust, and if you don’t, someone else is always going to take your job.”

In injury news, winger Drew Stafford (upper body) and forward Cody McCormick (hand) practiced today in a non-contact role.

Stafford’s closer to returning than McCormick, however.

“See how it responds later today and tomorrow morning,” said Stafford, who hadn’t practiced since hitting Minnesota’s Matt Cooke on Jan. 2. “That’s pretty much where we’re at.”

McCormick, Nolan said, is in the same group with forward Kevin Porter (lower body) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder (upper body), who aren’t practicing.

Captain Steve Ott had a maintenance day today.

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