In a semi-stunning announcement, the Buffalo Sabres president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine has resigned from the team to resume his previous position with the NHL.
Renaud Lavoie of the TVA Sports reports that LaFontaine was against trading Miller, and would have preferred to re-sign him to an extension. There were also rumors floating around that LaFontaine was looking for a GM who would keep interim coach Ted Nolan around for the future, but at this point that's just speculation.
From the language in the press release and Lavoie's tweet, it would seem that LaFontaine wanted more input on personnel moves the team was making. Remember, he was initially offered the GM job, but turned it down, saying he wasn't ready. With LaFontaine out (and nobody named to his newly created position) it would appear that Murray now has full control over all player and coaching transactions.
The last straw was the Ryan Miller trade. Pat Lafontaine was pushing to give Miller an extension. Tim Murray was pushing for a trade.— Renaud Lavoie (@LavoieRenaud) March 1, 2014
This isn't the first time LaFontaine has stepped down from a management role in short order. He previously resigned in protest from his unpaid role as senior advisor for the New York Islanders after just six weeks, over a disagreement to fire the newly hired GM Neil Smith.
At this point, we're not sure if this was a full-blown power struggle, a disagreement over the direction of the franchise or the rebuild, or simply LaFontaine not feeling cut out or satisfied with the job. There will certainly be more to this story in the coming days, so keep your ears peeled and your Twitter feed open.
Read the team press release below:
"I would like to thank Pat for all he has done for the organization," said Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. "Pat joined us at a very difficult time and helped transition the organization down a new path. Tim Murray will continue as General Manager and Craig Patrick will continue as a Senior Hockey Advisor. As has been the case since I bought the team, we’ll continue to do whatever is needed to rebuild the organization and keep it on path towards our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup."
"Terry Pegula hired me in November and my primary objective was to lead the Sabres organization through a time of transition," said Pat LaFontaine. "I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish in a short period of time and want to thank Terry and Kim Pegula for the opportunity and their support during my time with the Sabres. I also want to convey my best wishes to all of the players in the Sabres organization and to wish them the best of success in the future. Most importantly, I want to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the great fans of the Sabres for the way I have been treated here as a player and as an executive."