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Buffalo shakeup: Regier, Rolston fired; LaFontaine, Nolan hired

Nov 13, 2013, 10:48 AM EST

patlafontainegetty Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres (a.k.a. the NHL’s worst team) announced major changes today. Longtime general manager Darcy Regier has been fired, as has head coach Ron Rolston. Hired are Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations, a newly created position, and Ted Nolan as interim head coach.

Both LaFontaine and Nolan have ties to the Sabres and have worked together in the past. The former starred for the club from 1991 to 1997; the latter coached the team for two seasons, from 1995-97. (Click here for more on that.)

Sabres owner Terry Pegula announced the changes at a press conference.

“Why now? I guess I just decided it was the time,” he said, per NHL.com. “Sometimes you get to the point where a change is needed.”

LaFontaine said he’ll be “actively searching for the next general manager” and already has a short list of candidates.

“I don’t have the experience right now in the general manager’s job,” he said. “But I know people and I know people out there who know how to do the job. I think putting together the right people to build that team and working together, that’s my strength. … I think my strengths are people and making sure everyone’s on board and doing their job. I told [Pegula], I said I could probably grow into that [GM] position but right now I think I could best serve you by building the hockey operations side of things.”

Nolan said the goal is to change the culture of the struggling team. He also confirmed that assistant coaches Teppo Numminen, Joe Sacco, Jerry Forton will remain on the staff.

The Sabres are 4-15-1 after 20 games and sit 30th in the NHL standings. Last February, they fired longtime head coach Lindy Ruff after a 6-10-1 start, replacing him with Rolston.

  1. nhstateline - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Ted Nolan did a good job the last time he was in Buffalo and with the Isles. This is a good hire. I’m just disappointed Joe McGrath did end up as GM, seems it like its that kind of year in Buffalo……

  2. dropthepuckeh - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Wow. I never thought Pegula would pull the trigger.

    John Scott on waivers in 3…..2……1…….

    • leninthebuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      Doubt it…Teddy likes a tough team.

  3. hockey412 - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Timing is a little off, eh? Fired after a big win?

    • govtminion - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      I thought that was odd too, when I heard this- I had to go back and check, I was sure the Sabres had just won their last game, didn’t they?

      Leave it to Buffalo to make the right move, a couple of years later than they should have, and STILL find a way to do it with baffling timing.

    • captbuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Eh – I wouldn’t put too much stock in that win. Miller won, not the Sabres. We were outshot 45-17, gave up the lead with less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd, and needed a shootout win against the backup goalie after Quick got hurt in OT. 3 of 4 wins in the shootout this year – anytime was the right time for a change.

      • hockey412 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Can’t disagree with the decision or the comment…just so ironic!

      • mnovak7884 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        It was Miller’s statement that he should be the Team USA Goalie

    • ajpowers2987 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      I believe Ted Nolan Said Patty called him a few days ago so this has been in the works.

      • nhstateline - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        Jordan Nolan said on an LA Kings related page that he knew about it three days ago so this was in the works for a while.

    • pens919209 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Yep, I’m sure that win was the mark of Ron Rolston finally turning that team around.

  4. sjsblitz - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    And so the TRUE rebuild of Buffalo begins

    • elemeno89 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Will be interesting to see who comes in as GM. And if Nolan will stick around after the season. Kind of exciting however.

      • jbretwei - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        I vote for Dud’s to take over as GM. I think that would be awesome!!

      • leninthebuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        I’m with ya bring in Duds

    • Meta - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Things finally look to be going in the right direction for the Sabres now. Best of luck to you guys.

  5. pugsley927 - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    i hate the sabres but feel bad for a fan base that has had absolutely nothing to cheer about for a long time. they held on to Ruff and Regier far too long and then replaced Ruff with a hack. get Oglethorpe out of there next, another step in the right direction.

    • ibieiniid - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Ogie takes offense.

  6. ruthlessandtoothless - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Steve Ott looks severely cross eyed in that picture

    • ruthlessandtoothless - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      aaaaaaaand they change it

  7. ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Holy s**tballs, what a great day for. Buffalo

  8. thecheeman - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Pat LaFontaine has like no experience running anything, right? Also what does Director of Hockey Operations do if he’s hiring a GM? Sounds like he’s basically a face.

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      but what a face it is…

      • thecheeman - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        that’s true

    • captbuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      LaFontaine acknowledged that – that’s why I love the hire. Pegula offered him the GM job, and Pat said (paraphrase) “I don’t have the experience right now to be a GM – but I know people, and I know the right people to bring in and do that job.”

    • dewzer - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      This is how the Bruins are built; Neely as Pres of Hockey Ops and Chiarelli as Gen Mgr. Seems to be working out OK for them so far.

      • thecheeman - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        Neely worked in the front office for a few years before being made president.

  9. dasportsninja - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    It is pretty exciting to bring back LaFontaine and Nolan. Gives me a reason to watch. They still need quite a few decent hockey players to be good.

  10. jwalsh217 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    if john scott isn’t on waivers in 48 hours i will be shocked

    • leninthebuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      lol just before a home/home with Toronto you expect them to put Scott on waivers, what are you smoking.

    • leninthebuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Nolan confirmed Scott will be in the line-up Friday night!!!!

      • nhstateline - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        I hope he plays 20-25 minutes a game most nights…….that’d be fun to watch.

  11. bleedingteal4life - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Ah yes, buffalo. New york’s red headed step child. The real question is, does anyone even care?

    Eh I’m just bitter from that loss the other day.

  12. ryanrockzzz - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Hmm…so a team that had a good coach and mediocre talent fires Ruff in Feb. Going into this year, everyone knows they will be awful. Said year starts, and the team is awful, and no one is surprised. Team trades Vanek, theoretically making them more awful. Now the GM and coach are fired because they are, well “awful,” despite the fact this was what everyone expected going into the year. Seems a little strange how Buffalo has handled things over the past year.

  13. terrier92 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Long time bruins season ticket holder here While the enemy I feel for Buffalo fans They are loyal and very knowledgeable they deserve a competitive team and I hope that this moves them in right direction I loved old Adams division battles with sabres in the 80’s. They were all out war Good luck buffalo

  14. mnovak7884 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Next GM – Rick Dudley. The culture change will then be complete

    • withseidelinn - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      How about Pierre?? Ha!

  15. joey4id - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    If Lafontaine can do as he said, then that will be huge for the organization. He knows his limits and will be working within his strengths. I’ve always wondered why Nolan was not hired back in the NHL after his last stint as an NHL coach. Hope both will do well.

  16. pmonte3122 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    WERE DANCING IN THE STREETS!!! LALALALALALla Fon Taineeee!!!!

  17. thos_prattt - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Seems odd that Regier was allowed to trade Vanek. Surely an incoming GM should have been allowed the opportunity to make that decision, not a guy on the way out.

    • leninthebuff - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      You may be right but Regier got a good return, a first and a second for a guy who was gone no matter what. Moulson may want to stay now and will be a much cheaper sign and will get roughly the same amount of goals.

  18. pxland - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Really, they fired Regier? Already? Just kidding.

    I’m letting go of my Buffalo hate. I will troll no longer.

    Good luck to you Sabres and fans on the much needed fresh start.

  19. sabatimus - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    About damn time.

  20. thedavesiknowiknow - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    It was supposed to be cold today- but I woke up to find hell froze over. It’s going to be 5 years before the impact is truly seen- but this morning was the most significant day in the Sabres timeline thus far. I’m glad Pegula stopped letting dudes in suits tell him how smart Regier was.

  21. blue21c - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    If Joe McGrath gets hired, get ready for the fashion shows!! I think the problems really stem from those wonderful new third jerseys!

    • nhstateline - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      so who is the guy who will be threatening him “I’m gonna do it, Joe, I’m gonna wiggle my at them.” I’d go with Ryan Miller.

  22. 19inarow - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    First Moulson and now LaFontaine? The Buffalo Sabres are now my second favorite team. Enjoy the rebuild, fans, it’s actually pretty cool if you allow yourself to see it that way.

  23. muckleflugga - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    in much the same manner sandra corleone described sonny’s dimensions during the wedding reception in the godfather, lafontaine appears in the attending graphic to be describing what he saw during a recent turkish bath with nolan…

    all of this helps us understand missus hasek and the entire cougar population of upstate new york’s interest in ted

    the term hockey club takes on a whoooooole new meaning

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