Regier, Rolston out in Buffalo; LaFontaine, Nolan in
Buffalo, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres have made wholesale changes in the wake of a disastrous start to the 2013-14 season.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula fired both general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston on Tuesday night and on Wednesday named former Sabres great Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations with Ted Nolan taking over as interim head coach.
The Sabres, coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, are just 4-15-1 and have the fewest points in the NHL with nine.
"We didn't exactly put Ron in the best of situations as head coach with some of the moves we've made and the direction we've taken the organization," said Pegula at a Wednesday news conference.
Rolston was in his first season as the full-time head coach. He took over on an interim basis last February after Lindy Ruff was fired. The Sabres finished 15-11-5 in 31 games under Rolston last season before this year's rough start.
Re-enter Nolan, who was Buffalo's head coach for two seasons from 1995-97 before Ruff had his stellar run of 15 years as head coach.
Nolan guided the Sabres to a record of 73-72-19, taking a team that finished fifth in its division in '95-96 to first place the following year.
Regier took over as Sabres' GM in 1997 and decided not to renew Nolan's contract. Nolan didn't find another NHL head coaching job until 2006-07 with the New York Islanders. He also spent two seasons with the Isles, taking the club to the playoffs in his first year.
Overall, Nolan has a record of 147-140-19-21 as an NHL head coach. He had been working with the Latvian national team and will still guide the European nation at the Winter Olympics in February.
"It's great to be back," said Nolan on Wednesday. "Hopefully, I can bring some credibility back to this organization."
Regier had been Buffalo's general manager since 1997. He built a Sabres team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and made three other appearances in the Eastern Conference finals. However, Buffalo has not qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons and four of the last six.
"I just decided," said Pegula when asked why he made the change. "Sometimes you get to the point where a change is needed. Darcy Regier had a heckuva run with the Buffalo Sabres."
LaFontaine will now be in charge of the hockey operations and will eventually hire a new general manager. He starred with the Sabres for six seasons from 1991-92 until 1996-97, but had concussion issues late in his Hall of Fame career.
A five-time All-Star in a career that also included eight seasons with the New York Islanders and one with the New York Rangers, LaFontaine was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. He scored 468 goals and 1,013 points in 865 games.
"I can't tell you how excited and ready I am to take this position," said LaFontaine, who played for the Sabres during Nolan's two years as head coach. "We have a lot of work in front of us. We have to be patient. It's not going to happen overnight. We'll get the right people in position. We'll get it there."
LaFontaine added that assistant coaches Teppo Numminen, Joe Sacco, Jerry Forton will remain, stating that the new general manager will have input into the final decision on a full-time head coach.
It is Nolan's job for the remainder of the season, however.
"I'm going to get try to get to know this team as quick as I can and change the culture," said Nolan. "We'll make it exciting and we'll make it a place people want to come and enjoy hockey games again."
It's already the third coaching change in the NHL this season. The Philadelphia Flyers dumped Peter Laviolette after just three games and the Florida Panthers dismissed Kevin Dineen last week.
11/13 11:48:39 ET