Yesterday, plenty of rumors were swirling around about why Pat LaFontaine suddenly and surprisingly resigned from his position as president of hockey operations for the Buffalo Sabres. Today, Tim Murray and Ted Black flew back to Buffalo to clear the air.
However, after a short press conference this afternoon, there's still some fog we can't quite see through.
The big questions dealt with LaFontaine's departure, and Murray and Black both stuck to the "he just wanted to go back and work in New York" story, and insisted that there was no discord in the front office. All three men, Terry Pegula included, are disappointed in LaFontaine's decision, and said they weren't exactly sure why he decided to go, other than to be back in NYC. When asked whether this had anything to do with a disagreement over the Miller trade or a front office power struggle, Murray responded as such:
Murray: "We were on the same page. (Pat) hired me. Everything was relayed to Pat. No indication that we weren't on same page." #sabres— Ryan Wolfe (@wolfeshc) March 2, 2014
Murray said LaFontaine was not consulted on Miller deal as he had already decided to leave organization.— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdonPHT) March 2, 2014
Interesting to note that LaFontaine had apparently already decided to leave the team prior to Friday's trade. Despite the solidarity from the front office, this story still smells fishy, and I would think we'll hear more about this sudden departure over the coming days.
There were also questions about the team's future, including head coach Ted Nolan. Reports leaked yesterday from WGR's Paul Hamilton that Nolan had been offered a three-year contract extension, but that negotiations are ongoing. Today, Tim Murray confirmed that, and said that the Sabres want Ted Nolan to be their coach, but only if he wants to.
#Sabres GM Tim Murray on Ted Nolan: "We want him to be our coach going forward." Contract negotiations ongoing.— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 2, 2014
The rest of the conference was typical talking-without-saying-anything chatter, but one of the biggest things I took out of this ten minutes was Tim Murray's attitude. Murray was forthright and honest, but answered his questions quickly and very much had the look of a man thinking "Can we just get this over with already so I can do do my job?" When asked why he sent Joe Battista was sent to pull Miller and Ott from Friday's lineup rather than do it himself, Murray responded bluntly, "I sent him because I was on the phone...making the trade." After more than a decade of the same, it's just so refreshing to hear Murray's go-get-em, honest talk.
The Sabres do seem to know how this makes them look around the league, but Black said that he wants people in the organization who want to be here. For frustrated Sabres fans shocked at all the change this weekend, Black has this to say:
Sabres Prez Ted Black: "It’s a lot for our fans to swallow in a short amount of time. ... It’s something that fans are going to be upset by"— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) March 2, 2014