This morning the Buffalo Sabres announced they would be holding a "major news conference" at 10:30 and it was anything but. Big changes have finally come to Buffalo after a disastrous 4-15-1 start, landing them last in the league, with the firing of Ron Rolston and Darcy Regier. In addition, Pat LaFontaine was hired as the President of Hockey Operations. Ted Black called the changes "A huge step forward". I agree.
After 17 years as GM, the "Fire Darcy" chants were finally answered with the firing of Regier. It's clear his vision for the team was not working and, in most minds, his firing was long over-due. Ownership finally agreed with the firing of him today. LaFontaine, in his new role, will be choosing his replacement from what he says is a short list he has already prepared.
Next up, Rolston will be replaced by interim head coach Ted Nolan who was the Sabres coach during the 95-97 seasons, before the start of the Ruff era. He did have some success leading the team to the semi-finals in 1997. He also coached the Islanders from 06-08 with a quarter final appearance in 2007. Nolan was emotional during his turn to speak during the conference, bringing something that Rolston was clearly lacking.
Another change was LaFontaine being named President of Hockey Operations. A new role to oversee everything hockey based with the first task of finding a GM to hopefully help turn things around in this city. Most Sabres fans should be familiar with LaFontaine as he spent several seasons playing with the Sabres and finally returns as a management position. LaFontaine was mentioned as a possible GM but turned it down as he thought he was lacking the experience and would like to get someone who knows more into that role. That bodes well for him in my mind.
Again, big changes for a struggling team that is coming off it's first home win of the year. Hopefully the confidence from the win, a new coaching system, and new leadership from the top down can make the Sabres competitive enough to make hockey exciting again for the city of Buffalo. This weekend's home and home series at Toronto just got interesting.