As has been pointed out by many, the fact that Buffalo Sabres Interim Head Coach Ted Nolan hasn't signed his supposed contract extension is worrisome. While I would love to keep Coach Nolan as I feel he's done a great job improving this team, any hesitation from a man with his limited opportunities (see Coaching the Lavtian Nat'l team. Nothing against Latvia, but that isn't exactly a great resume builder) is a red flag and as Tim Murray said, "I want people who want to be here." If Nolan isn't thrilled about a 3-year extension, maybe it's in the team's best interest to move on.
I believe I have done my due diligence in writing this article and feel each of these twelve men have the potential to be a successful Head Coach for the Buffalo Sabres. I have ranked them in the order in which I would hire them, so your opinions may be and probably are different. So, without further ado, here it is:
1. Kevin Dineen - Current Position: None - Experience: Head Coach of the Florida Panthers (2011-2013), Head Coach of the Portland Pirates (2005-2011).
Why? Dineen took over a 28th place Florida Panthers team in 2011 and turned them into a Southeast Division Champion the next season. He also has ties to the organization as he coached the Portland Pirates when they were affiliated with the Sabres. He made the AHL playoffs in 5/6 seasons coached.
Why Not? Dineen was fired after a dreadful 2012-13 season and bad start to the 2013-2014 season (much due to the lack of elite talent on the Panthers' roster. Sound familiar?)
Why? Richardson took over the Binghamton Senators in 2012 and led a majorly inexperienced team to a 44-24-8 record and was named to the AHL All-Star team as a Coach. Murray also has ties to him, and from what I've heard think very highly of him.
Why Not? Richardson is relatively inexperienced as a coach as the Binghamton job is the only one he's held since retiring from the NHL.
3. Craig Ramsay - Current Position: None - Experience: Assistant Coach of the Florida Panthers (2011-2013), Head Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers (2010-2011), Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers (1999-2001), Interim Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres (1986-1987).
Why? Ramsay is a shoe-in to be on the Buffalo Sabres all-time roster. He lead the 1999-00 Flyers to a Conference Final berth. His success as a coach was small only due to the fact that the teams he was coaching sucked.
Why Not? Ramsay doesn't have much success as a coach.
4. Tony Granato - Current Position: Assistant Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-present) - Other Experience: Head Coach of the Colorado Avalanche (2002-2004, 2008-2009), Assistant Coach of the Colorado Avalanche (2005-2008).
Why? Granato coached the Avalanche to back-to-back 100-point seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
Why Not? As has been mentioned with others, he is relatively inexperienced as a coach.
5. Mark Morris - Current Position: Head Coach of the Manchester Monarchs (2006-present) - Other Experience: None.
Why? Morris has coached the Monarchs to the playoffs in 6/7 seasons he has been there and recently became the winningest coach in the team's History.
Why Not? Morris has never stepped foot on an NHL rink as a coach.
6. Tom Renney - Current Position: Assistant Coach of the Detroit Red Wings (2012-present) - Other Experience: Head Coach of the Edmonton Oilers (2010-2012), Head Coach of the New York Rangers (2003-2009), Head Coach of the Vancouver Canucks (1996-1998).
Why? Renney is no doubt the most experienced coach on this list, serving 10 seasons as a Head Coach in the NHL.
Why Not? Renney has been relatively unsuccessful as a coach in the NHL.
7. Scott Arniel - Current Position: Assistant Coach of the New York Rangers (2013-present) - Other Experience: Head Coach of the Chicago Wolves (2012-2013), Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets (2010-2012), Head Coach of the Manitoba Moose (2006-2010).
Why? Arniel has ties to the organization, playing 4 full season for the Sabres from 1986-1990. He made the playoffs in each of the four seasons he served as Head Coach in Manitoba including one loss in the Calder Cup Finals.
Why Not? Arniel's two seasons as a Head Coach in the NHL were unsuccessful.
8. Glen Gulutzan - Current Position: Assistant Coach of the Vancouver Canucks (2013-present) - Other Experience: Head Coach of the Dallas Stars (2011-2013), Head Coach of the Texas Stars (2009-2011).
Why? Gulutzan has lots of minor-league experience, making the playoffs in all but one of his seasons between 2003-2011 including 6 seasons in the ECHL with Las Vegas and 2 with the AHL Texas Stars.
Why Not? Gulutzan's two seasons in Dallas were both .500 seasons, mediocre at best.
9. Scott Gordon - Current Position: Assistant Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs (2011-present) - Other Experience: Head Coach of the New York Islanders (2008-2011), Head Coach of the Providence Bruins (2002-2008).
Why? Gordon has lots of experience as a Head Coach, serving for 3 seasons in the NHL and 6 seasons in the AHL. He made the playoffs in each of the 6 seasons with Providence.
Why Not? Gordon's years with the Islanders were quite sad, including a last-place season in 2008-2009.
10. Willie Desjardins - Current Position: Head Coach of the Texas Stars (2012-present) - Other Experience: Assistant Coach of the Dallas Stars (2010-2012).
Why? Desjardins has had great success as a coach in general, specifically in junior hockey where he lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a Memorial Cup apperance. His Texas Stars have played extremely well in both seasons he has lead them.
Why Not? As mentioned with others, he has limited experience as a professional Coach.
11. Jeff Blashill - Current Position: Head Coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins (2012-present) - Other Experience: None.
Why? Blashill has had success everywhere he's coached, Including a Championship in the USHL with Indiana and a Calder Cup Championship in 2012-13 with Grand Rapids.
Why Not? Blashill hasn't ever coached in the NHL, Head or Assistant.
12. Todd Nelson - Current Position: Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Barons (2010-present) - Other Experience: Assistant Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-2010).
Why? Nelson has made the playoffs in 3 out of 4 seasons as Head Coach of Oklahoma City.
Why Not? I sound like a broken record, but Nelson doesn't have much coaching experience.
Side Note: For those wondering, I will have my March Mock Draft up next weekend.