I feel the same way about Darcy Regier that I do about Lindy Ruff. Ruff was a solid Head Coach, who also had a tough job, but oversaw some great teams. It was a class act by the organization doing what they did for Lindy when he returned to face the Sabres....but man was it so weird to see him coaching another team. I mean I wanted him gone 3 years ago just because sometimes it's just time to change it up....and I swear I was convinced he had a lifetime appointment as coach. Then I woke up and he was gone.
Let's just skip Ron Rolston and get right to Ted Nolan. Now let me ask all of you guys this: Am I the only one who looks at Ted Nolan on TV today and thinks it's 1996? Im looking on the screen and thinking Rob Ray is going to jump the boards and get into the action, and Michael Peca and Curtis Brown are going to hit the ice soon.
Never thought i'd see him here again but is he the right guy for the job? Eh....it's so tough to evaluate him right now, or any coach for that matter. Al Arbour couldn't win with this roster right now.
But if he's not the right choice then who is? Lets take a look at some options here:
Phil Housley:: As of right now, Former Sabre Phil Housley is in his first full season as Nashville Predators Assistant to Barry Trotz. Not a bad start. I think many believe Housley would be a fine NHL head Coach someday. If Paul Fenton were to be named the Sabres GM, I feel Housley would be first up to get an interview for sure...I mean how can't they?
He's already making his mark on Rookie phenom Seth Jones. He has a great working relationship which Jones.
SI's Stu Hackel recently pointed out a specific example of the good working relationship with Seth Jones and Phil Housley:
Hackel describes a scene following a play against Winnipeg on which Jones was caught flat-footed by Evander Kane, The error caused Housley to break out his iPad between periods and quietly review the play on video with Seth, explaining the better way to do it, adding a visual reminder that Jones has made the right play other times. "I like how he doesn't embarrass you in front of the team," Jones says. "He'll tell you what you need to know and tell you only."
"Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff," Says Predators GM David Poile. "He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career. He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play. As of right now the Predators Powerplay has improved from near the bottom of the league to 8th in the NHL.
The Sabres have 4 very good, and very young Defense Prospects working their way up through the system in Rasmus Ristolanien, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Pysyk, and Brayden McNabb...and a veteran Powerplay QB in Christian Erhoff who certainly could benefit from Housley's mentoring and of course Tyler Myers.
The Drawback is NHL coaching expiernce....but I think if anyone can make the rapid asend into a NHL Head Coaching Job, it's Housley.
Dale Hawerchuck Another former Buffalo Sabre, Dale Hawerchuk, was rumoured to be in line to take over the Winnipeg Jets. Hawerchuk was hired as Head Coach of the Barrie Colts in 2010. Hawerchuk, the former NHL star who also launched his career in Winnipeg, has rebuilt the Colts, leading them to the OHL final in his third season with the team. Many coaches can make the jump from the juniors to NHL (Roy, DeBoer, D.Hunter) and Hawerchuck can be another.
Doug Houda Yet another Former Buffalo Sabre, Doug Houda is a key assistant on Claude Julien's staff with the Boston Bruins. If GM canadiate Jim Benning were to get the job, I would fully expect Houda to get considered at the least with their connection to Boston.
Houda understands and coaches the finer points of defensive play, and he helped raise the Bruins to a championship level during the 2010-11 season when they won the Stanley Cup. Houda served an apprenticeship with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League before coming to the Bruins. Houda's not my first choice however, and actually wouldn't be my 2nd or 3rd...but He is a good prospect for the job.
You can't go without mentioning Peter Laviolette and you can't deny that he's a damn good coach who ive liked for years. 2 Stanley Cup Finals Appearences, and also two Game 7 Wins over Lindy Ruff's Sabres in the Playoffs....so he's been a major pain in our ass for years. He is one of the most outspoken coaches in the NHL, right behind John Tortorella, which few realize and a proven canadiate nonetheless. By far, the Best Canadiate available....but is he right for this team? Is Laviolette the right man for this team? He'll certainly command respect for sure, but what I mean is: Does Peter Laviolette want to come here and be the Head Coach of a Franchise Rebuilding from the ground up?
Kevin Dineen A former Whaler who has ties to the Sabres as he was their former AHL Affiliate Head Coach. Ok, he isnt a sexy pick, and I dont have a lot to say on him except, What Coach can win in Florida? That is by far the worst coaching job in the NHL. Peter DeBoer, another former Panthers coach did leave Florida and lead the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals...so sometimes people can do fine with second chances. New Jersey is a much better situation, but the oldest team in the league is no easy job either. Jacques Martin, Bryan Murray, Mike Keenan, and Roger Neilsen couldnt win there consistently.
Guy Boucher I still think Guy Boucher would make a fine head coach despite his run in Tampa Bay. Lack of Goaltending buried him however. A former coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning (like Tortorella), Boucher is young, energetic and is probably curious about what he can do with a world-class goalie playing behind his unique systems, including a 1-3-1 forecheck. Boucher couldn't get the Lightning going after taking them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011. They had bad goaltending and a subpar defense that couldn't make up for the amount of offense Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis create. He was fired with roughly one month left in the 2012-13 regular season. But would he be a good fit in Buffalo with Ryan Miller going out the door? He certainly get a consideration as a darkhorse canadiate and could be good for a young team.
Willie Desjardins Willie Desjardins was a finalist for the Dallas Stars opening, that was filled by Lindy Ruff. He is currently the head coach of the AHL's Texas Stars. "Desjardins has a strong history of coaching success. He was a head coach for the University of Calgary from 1989-94, a head coach with the Seibu Bears in Japan from 1994-96, head coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team from 1997-2002 and head coach of Medicine Hat from 2002-2010. In every stop, he found a way to win, and his run with Medicine Hat was especially impressive _ 333-182-61 (.631) and two Western Hockey League championships. That’s not easy to do." From the Dallas Morning News But of more immediate importance is the job he did with the Texas Stars this season. Desjadins was given a Texas team that had talent, but was in disarray after a 31-40-5 (.441) record in 2011-12. He brought together a varied group during an odd season that was affected by the NHL lockout and posted a 43-22-11 record (.638) and won Coach of the Year in the AHL. I think he's a little too old for what i'd want at 56 years old for a First Coaching Job, but still a solid canaidate.
Tom Renney As an Associate coach for Detroit Red Wings as of right now and is mainly responsible for their Powerplay. As we all know, a Mike Babcock Assistant Coach is not a bad choice as Paul MacClean and Todd MacClellan have both done well in their first jobs. Tom Renney is an experienced former NHL Head Coach however, and at age 58, is he what we want? He did have some success with the New York Rangers, so there's a little something to be said there , although Chris Drury's memorable goal helped play a part in the Rangers 2007 playoff demise and Renney was the coach of that team. When Paul MacClean left for Ottawa 2 years ago, he took the Powerplay with him, the Red Wings suffered in Lidstrom's last year. Tom Renney was brought on to fix the Poweplay and has done so. Despite the Red Wings woes, they have the 7th ranked Powerplay in the NHL, in large part due to Renney's success. But large appeal with Tom Renney is as the Sabres have gone young, and are going in the high draft pick direction....Tom Renney worked with the Edmonton Oilers when they began their rebuild and has experience working with young teams...he's not my favorite, and as a major con: Even with his reputation as a great teacher, he was fired by the Oilers in May 2012, a team that has been in a full-blown youth movement for seemingly the last few years. But it is an interesting hire.
Tony Granato and Randy Cunneyworth What im trying to do really hard, is link connections to GM canadiates and the coaches they know well, and who they might hire. Currently Dan Bylysma's key assistant in Pittsburgh...if Jason Botterill gets the nod as GM, Granato could very well get a look. He has some expierence as an NHL Head Coach. His First 2 seasons in Colorado before the lockout: 72-33-17 Record with a Divison title and a first and 2nd round playoff exit. He returned in 2008-09 and took over a much different Av's team, going 32-45. His Record is 104-78-17. He has a ton of expierence as a player and as a coach. He's be a decent hire for the Sabres. Randy Cunneyworth is another name and Former Sabre with a tie to Jason Botterill. One of the most successful coaches in Amerks History is a scout for the Sabres right now. People in Buffalo are familiar with him. He could also be worthy of a look.
Jeff Blashill As of right now Jeff Blashill may be by far the best AHL canadiate for a NHL Head Coaching Job, and would be a fine choice by the Sabres as well. He is currently the AHL Head Coach of the Detroit affiliated Grand Rapids Griffins who are coming off their Calder Cup Victory last season. He was also considered for the Head Coaching job by the Dallas Stars with his tie to GM Jim Nill, but was edged out by Lindy Ruff. At age 39, along with leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to their first Calder Cup. He currently has an AHL record of 57-35-5. He also has overseen the development of Red Wings Prospects: Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and currently is overseeing the developemnt of top AHL Forward, and top prospect Tomas Jurco. In 2008 he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice, a Tier 1 junior hockey team in the United States Hockey League. In Blashill's first season, the Ice won the Clark Cup for the USHL Championship. Afterwards, Blashill was then named head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos men's ice hockey team on April 6, 2010. In his first season as head coach, Blashill led WMU to a top-four finish in the CCHA, the CCHA Championship game, and the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, the best season for WMU in 15 years. After the season, he was named USCHO Coach of the Year, Inside College Hockey Coach of the Year, and College Hockey News Coach of the Year
Other Canadiates include: Mark Messier, Mike Haviland, Scott Arniell, Scott Stevens, Larry Robinson and Marc Crawford.