Buffalo Sabres clean house, firing GM and head coach
Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston is shown in this September 2013 file photo. (The Buffalo News/Mark Mulville)
Published Wednesday, November 13, 2013 11:01AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:57PM EST
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres are turning to their past to help turn the struggling franchise around.
The NHL team has cleaned house by firing general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston, and bringing back former star Sabres forward Pat LaFontaine and former head coach Ted Nolan.
LaFontaine was named president of hockey operations Wednesday and Nolan will serve as interim head coach.
"We'll compete, we'll make it exciting and we'll make it a place people want to come and enjoy hockey games again," Nolan said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
The Sabres are off to a 4-15-1 start, the worst in franchise history. Buffalo edged Los Angeles 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night to avoid tying the worst home start in NHL history.
Rolston was 19-26-6 in his brief tenure as Buffalo coach. Regier had been the Sabres general manager since 1997.
Pegula stressed that the problems went beyond the performance of Regier, who had become the subject of "Fire Darcy" chants in Buffalo.
"He didn't do what he did by himself," Pegula said. "There was input from many people, prior owners, myself. Why now? I just decided and that's the only answer I can give you. We work together and sometimes you get to the point where a change was needed."
The Sabres organization has plenty of familiarity with Nolan and LaFontaine.
Nolan was the Sabres coach from 1995-97, winning the Jack Adams Award in 1997 as the NHL's top coach. Nolan also coached the New York Islanders from 2006-08.
His current job is coach of the Latvian men's national team, a role he'll continue into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
LaFontaine starred for the Sabres from 1991-97 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. He started a job as senior executive for the NHL last month.
"Our job is top to bottom to bring a championship calibre team year to year," said LaFontaine, who is looking to fill the vacant general manager's position.
LaFontaine's move into the front office follows contemporaries such as Joe Sakic, who was hired as executive vice-president of hockey operations in Colorado in May, and Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman.
LaFontaine lacks much front office experience, lasting only six weeks as senior adviser to Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2006.
Nolan will conduct his first Sabres practice in 16 years Wednesday afternoon. Buffalo's next game is Friday at the First Niagara Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs.