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Sabres address LaFontaine resignation, ready to move forward

Mar 2, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

Tim Murray, Pat LaFontaine AP

BUFFALO — Buffalo Sabres president Ted Black and general manager Tim Murray addressed the media about Pat LaFontaine’s sudden resignation from the organization.

After just over three months on the job, LaFontaine left the Sabres to return to the NHL where he was the vice president of hockey development.

“I found out a few days ago [about LaFontaine leaving],” Black said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to be announced or when.”

The “when” was answered on Saturday night.

Black said he knows it doesn’t look good from the outside for the team.

“It’s a lot for our fans to swallow in a short amount of time,” Black said. “The franchise goalie is traded, the former player hall of famer that was the president of hockey operations resigns. So it creates this same reaction you measure from your readers and from Twitter. It creates uncertainty. It’s something that fans are going to be upset by.”

With rumors of discord amongst members of the front office, both Black and Murray made it clear it was LaFontaine’s decision to resign and that he wasn’t fired. Of course, the timing of his departure came a day after the team traded superstar goalie Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues.

Front office shakeups after a trade are always going to get noticed, but Murray said he and LaFontaine worked together.

“We were on the same page,” Murray said. “I was brought in here for the rebuild and we were on the same page with that. I’ve been here for six weeks and probably on the road for four of those scouting. Every phone call I got concerning trades was relayed to Pat. There was never any indication that we weren’t on the same page.”

Given the timing of when LaFontaine said he wanted to leave, Murray said the former Sabres legend wasn’t consulted about the Miller deal.

Now the Sabres will have to put this distraction to bed as the trade deadline approaches on Wednesday and they have numerous players drawing interest around the league.

“For me it’s just about the hockey and it’s about continuing to talk trade, it’s about continuing to get ready for the draft, it’s about continuing to evaluate the hockey staff,” Murray said. “I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”

  1. ralphwilsonisrich - Mar 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Don’t hire a former player to be involved with organization. I feel bad for ted Nolan, he has no alliance with Murray. Pat brought Ted into the fold. They better keep Ted around or the fan base will be really pissed,

    • rycoem - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      They are on record as offering Nolan a 3-yr contract to stay on as coach…if Nolan decides it’s not in his best interests to stay on, that is his choice

    • govtminion - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Not all former players end up being bad execs. Things have gone pretty well for people like Cam Neely, for example.

  2. nicofthenorthstar - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Disarray. Tough year to be a sabres fan.

  3. zetaone - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    I was sort of confused when he was hired to begin with (I can see WHY Pegula felt the need to however). I figured Ted Black already did the tasks LaFontaine’s title held, so his presence seemed sort of redundant to a point. Which may have made him feel sort of like a 3rd wheel with no power. I loved his hire of Tim Murray and what he has accomplished so far, so in the end it only served to benefit us.

    Going forward I have a lot of faith in Murray’s abilities and no-nonsense, down to business attitude that Regier lacked and drove me nuts over. He instills confidence with us fans in the front office for the first time since John Muckler.

  4. sabatimus - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    The fact that Steve Ott was the captain on this team indicates that the GM couldn’t or didn’t acquire winning personnel.

    • leninthebuff - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      @sabatimus

      Do you know what you are talking about?
      First, Ott was brought in by the previous GM
      Second, it seems Ott was wanted enough that STL gave up a first rounder for him even if it is near the bottom of the round

      troll elsewhere

      • sabatimus - Mar 2, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        I said “the GM”, not “the current GM”. If St Louis wants to take its chances with Ott, that’s their idiocy. The man had the second to last plus minus on the Sabres. Out of your CAPTAIN? Ott would be a third-liner at best on most teams.

        I guess you don’t know what trolling is.

  5. krebsy34 - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    I really like Murray and I think he is going to be real good for this squad. He said he wanted Ted to be here, and that they were working on an extension. I think Ted should take the extension. Just because Pat isn’t with the organization anymore doesn’t mean that Ted also has to leave the Sabres. If they do extend Ted or not, this is still a rebuild. This may be the best time for this to actually happen if you think about it. Murray has a vision for this club and that is how they are going to rebuild. They said Pat wasn’t involved in the Miller deal and that was a pretty solid deal, it was also the first major step personal wise in the rebuild. Because Pat wasn’t involved in it and he won’t be involved in the future, then I don’t view it as big of a deal everyone thinks it is. If Pat wanted to live in NYC and work for the NHL, then so be it. People take jobs and then months later realize it’s not what they thought it was gonna be and then they go back to their old job. I think that is what happened in this situation.

  6. drewsylvania - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    This is the second time LaFontaine has left an org quickly. Any reason why?

  7. leninthebuff - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Ted Black said there was no discord in LaFontaine resigning which is BS in my opinion. Think about it, if LaFontaine wanted to go back to NY for family reasons or for other personal reasons there would have been a presser and LaFontaine would have explained why he was resigning even if it was a BS story yet he is no where to be seen or heard. Ted Nolan looked devastated when talking about it, if there was no discord then Teddy might have been emotional about it but he would have signed an extension (which was to be announced last Tuesday) which probably means he now has second thoughts because of the way it went down. Tim Murray stated that LaFontaine was not in the loop in trading Miller and Ott so what’s that tell you, this has been brewing for some time.
    Pegula again shows that other then his free spending ways, he is a train wreck otherwise as an owner. He can’t be getting good advice from his Pittsburgh cronies Black,Sawyer and Batista.
    If he is smart he better just let Murray do his job and stay the hell out of it till Murray calls asking his approval on whatever moves he has on the table.

  8. ducksk - Mar 2, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    Coo coos nest.

  9. 2qswing - Mar 3, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    nice tidy explanation…not buyin’ it. Obvious decision-making power struggle. Too many chefs deciding on the ingredients.

  10. janoon2013 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Murray could be right for evaluating talent, which is what the Sabres need. But I am concerned about his lack of empathy for Nolan, who is obviously shaken by Lafontaine’s departure. Murray commented that “I’m not going to beg anybody to come work here.” That tells me a lot about Murray and his attitude towards Nolan. Maybe the question about keeping Nolan in Buffalo is what Lafontaine was upset about! And the Murray’s insistence about trading Miller broke the camel’s back! So if Murray can undercut the guy who brought him to Buffalo and gave him a chance, what else can we expect from him? Maybe Buffalo needs a tough hand to dole out reality in Buffalo, but at what cost? A great trade followed by a disheartening defection only asks more questions as to where this franchise is headed.

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