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Sabres coach Nolan sees growth despite mounting losses

Dec 14, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, left, takes his place behind the bench before an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert) AP

Firing bench boss Ron Rolston didn’t pay immediate dividends for the Buffalo Sabres. After all, the team is just 3-8-1 under Ted Nolan.

That’s not surprising. Buffalo was never expected to be anywhere near good this season, so it would have been truly remarkable had Nolan found a way to nearly instantly turn Buffalo into a contender.

So the Sabres remain a project, but at least Nolan is seeing signs that they are making progress.

“Before you can compete you have to trust. You have to be reliable and you have to be accountable,” Nolan told the Buffalo News. “Right now and in the last couple games, I really felt the guys are competing hard and they’re trusting one another. They’re feeling good about themselves. … Overall the trust is coming and the compete level is coming and everything is going in the right direction.”

He’s not alone in that belief. Although Buffalo suffered a 2-1 loss on Thursday to Ottawa, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller felt it “was one of our better efforts.”

The Sabres already 19 points out of a playoff spot, so even with more than half the season left, the practical question is if they can give their fanbase reasons to be hopeful for the 2014-15 campaign.

  1. bullwinkle88 - Dec 14, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    They can give their fans hope by finishing last in the league this year…and next. With Reinhart & McDavid (hopefully), the team will soon become a powerhouse again.

    • TestSubjekt - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Finishing last next year would have been easier with Regier at the helm. I think he understood what needed to be done.

      I think he was going to get rid of all the decent veterans like Miller, Ott, Stafford, Moulson and that was how next year the Sabres could be worse than this year.

      I think LalalalalaFontaine is going to try and make sure the Sabres don’t finish last next season =(

  2. miket333 - Dec 14, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    If Buffalo can end up with 1st overall next year and make a decent 2nd 1st round pick if we end up using the one we got for Vanek, and grab a decent veteran offensive free agent, they might not be as far off as people think. Also, Myers has been getting so much better the last few games. Nice to see. But they better not blow it getting 1st pick!

  3. valoisvipers - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    How bad is bad? The Sabres are on pace for 41 points this year.

    • bullwinkle88 - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      I think that’s bad enough to finish last.

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