A New Era Begins In Buffalo; With An Isles Connection

By Eric Bordin

To say things have not gone right in Buffalo this season would be an understatement. The Sabres are 4-15-1, and sit in last place in the Atlantic Division. They already traded their best player to the Islanders for a great team guy and very underrated Forward in Matt Moulson. Rumors have been swirling for months about the imminent departure of goalie Ryan Miller. Things are hardly going swimmingly in Buffalo, and the team is in a lot of trouble.

Today, the Sabres made another bold move. They relieved head coach Ron Rolston and former Islanders GM Darcy Regier of their duties. In their place, they hired former Islanders and Sabres superstar Pat LaFontaine, as the President of Hockey Operations, and Ted Nolan as interim head coach.

If you recall, LaFontaine was briefly a member of the Islanders front office during the tumultuous Islanders Summer of 2006. When Neil Smith was let go, and Garth Snow was hired, LaFontaine decided he had enough and left his Isles post after just 6 weeks.

Hiring Pat LaFontaine to the front office isn’t the biggest shocker.  However, hiring Ted Nolan as the interim head coach, that is a bit of a surprise. The last time we saw Ted Nolan in the NHL, was 2008. On July 14th, 2008 Ted Nolan was fired by Garth Snow. He has been seen sporadically since. He was with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, as the Vice President of Hockey Operations, from 2009-2011. In 2011, he was hired as the head coach of the Latvian Men’s National Ice Hockey Team.

It’s unbelievable how intertwined these two franchises have become. Let’s take a look at how involved the Islanders and Sabres have really become:

  • October 1991, Islanders trade homegrown superstar Pat LaFontaine to the Sabres and acquire Pierre Turtgeon.
  • Dec 27, 1996, Darcy Regier, Islanders Assistant GM, and long time member of the organization is fired by GM Mike Milbury.
  • Summer 1997, Regier hired as Sabres GM.
  • June 24, 2001. Michael Peca traded to the Islanders from the Sabres for Islanders prospects Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt.
  • June 8, 2006, Former Sabres head coach Ted Nolan hired as New York Islanders head coach
  • July 14, 2008 Ted Nolan fired as Islanders head coach.
  • October 29, 2013, Matt Moulson and 2 draft picks traded to the Sabres for Thomas Vanek
  • Nov 13, 2013, Sabres fire Regier and head coach Ron Rolston. Pat LaFontaine named team president and Ted Nolan named interim head coach.

The two arenas are separated by 404 miles. But the teams are more alike than anyone realizes. Take it from Islanders Country, Sabres fans, it’s a long way up from the bottom.

Good Luck.