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New Era



blog-0544152001384374421.png1997-2013…The Darcy Regier era for the Buffalo Sabres has come to an end. For the first time in 16 years Regier is not calling the shots over the hockey department in Buffalo. A long time coming. Perhaps one of his worst decisions keeping Ron Rolston as head coach was also shown the door today. Under Rolston the Sabres went 19-26-6; however very few of those wins came in regulation. This year the Sabres gave up the most shot in the NHL and continued to be one of the worst teams in puck possession in the league. Rolston was in over his head and not ready to be an NHL coach yet.

I’m not going to bash Regier and Rolston today though. Everyone knows what lead to their failures and no need to go over again. Instead I want to focus on the new era of the Sabres that will be led by new Director of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine and in the short term Interim Head Coach Ted Nolan. First I’m going to touch on what Ted Nolan brings. Nolan and Rolston are on complete opposite sides of the coaching spectrum. Rolston is an X and O’s teacher and Nolan is a lets go play hockey who needs fancy systems guy. Nolan believes in outworking your opponent and winning the battles for the puck. This is a very different style than what was preached by Ruff and Rolston for the players; however I think Nolan’s style better fits this young team better. Nolan is going to demand his players to work hard or they simply won’t play. I think Nolan’s style also fits really well with one important Sabres player in particular…Tyler Myers. I think Myers will be able to join the rush more and show his offensive side we haven’t seen in two years without a coach shoving defense first and second down his throat. Also look for out casts like Luke Adam (11 goals in the AHL this year), Brayden McNabb, and Patrick Kaleta to get another chance to show what they have with no eyes watching.

Now to the main attraction Pat LaFontaine. LaFontaine was working for the NHL under Bill Daly before being brought in by Buffalo. People are going immediately point to the fact LaFontaine has no experience however I don’t recall Neely in Boston or Sakic in Colorado having experience before being handed the keys to the hockey team in those organizations and so far so good for them. The hiring of LaFontaine brings excitement and some credibility back to the organization. LaFontaine said he has a short list of GM candidates he’s looking at to replace Regier. He also spoke about his #1 candidate being someone with “multiple Cups” and “one of the smartest hockey people knows”. I immediately jumped to LaFontaine’s former teammate currently working in Edmonton Mark Messier. Messier would bring more star power and credibility to the Sabres front office. Another name to watch who is always connected to Buffalo is Rick Dudley.

Do these moves today help the Sabres turn this season around? Probably not. Sabres are still likely headed for a top 3 draft selection in April; however it makes the plan of rebuilding more acceptable to the fans with new people overseeing this organization. It’ll be interesting to see the ripple effects in the lineup these changes cause. Also should be a next interesting few weeks as LaFontaine looks to bring in the new GM of Hockey Heaven.

Oh yeah….Sabres have a home and home with the Leafs this weekend, meeting for the first time since the preseason line brawl. Should be intriguing.

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