When the Buffalo Sabres announced the hiring of Tim Murray as general manager and Craig Patrick as a special adviser, the organization seemed to be complete. After many months of searching, Pat LaFontaine finally put all of the pieces together for the front office that he feels can build a Stanley Cup champion in Buffalo. LaFontaine made two very good hires as he chose men who are experienced in the game of hockey and experienced in running an NHL team.
But there is still one little piece of business to attend to.
As of right now, Ted Nolan is still the interim head coach of the Sabres. When Nolan was first hired to replace Ron Rolston, there was no general manager in place for the team. Pat LaFontaine made it clear that Nolan was an interim head coach until a general manager could be hired, and Nolan went right to work putting his stamp on the roster. In just a few short months, the team plays harder, works more and is starting to look like a Ted Nolan team. The pieces are still not quite there, but Nolan is doing the best with what he has.
There are several reasons why it is necessary to remove the interim tag from Ted Nolan’s name. First of all, the Sabres have several players that are going to be unrestricted free agents after this season, and a prolonged sense of stability would go a long way towards keeping those players in Buffalo. Goaltender Ryan Miller and forward Matt Moulson are two players who will have options come July 1, and the team would like to see both those players stay in Buffalo.
Nolan is already acting like he is the head coach. He is deciding which players get called up and which players get sent down to the AHL affiliate in Rochester. It is probably a good bet that Nolan had a lot to do with the trades that brought in Linus Omark and Zenon Konopka as well. Instead of allowing Ted Nolan to play head coach, the Sabres should just go ahead and make him the head coach.
The longer Murray allows Nolan to be saddled with the interim tag, the sillier the whole situation starts to look. It also brings into question whether or not Murray is going to retain Nolan as the head coach, and that is not a rumor that the Sabres want circulating among the fanbase. There were literally parties in the streets of Buffalo when Ted Nolan was brought back to the Sabres. That positive energy can turn negative really quick if Nolan is not given a legitimate chance at turning this franchise around.
It may not be fair to question Murray’s decisions after only two weeks on the job, but making Nolan the full-time head coach was supposed to be a no-brainer. The longer this drags out, the worse it is making the new general manager look.