Buffalo - November 13, 2013 - The Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday revamped their front office, firing general manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston, and hiring Hockey Hall of Fame member and former Sabres star Pat LaFontaine to fill the newly created role of president of hockey operations and Ted Nolan as their interim coach.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula said the decision to fire Regier and Rolston was made Tuesday, following the Sabres' 3-2 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings.
"Why now? I guess I just decided it was the time," Pegula said. "We worked together. Sometimes you get to the point where a change is needed. Darcy Regier had a heck of a run with the Buff Sabres. … It's not like he was a failure."
LaFontaine has full control of all aspects of the hockey operations department. He had been working with the NHL since October as the League's vice-president of development and community affairs.
"It's going to take a team from top to bottom and we don't have all the pieces in place," LaFontaine said. "I asked Teddy to come in and change the culture [in the locker room], get everyone on board. I'll work on my side and put the pieces together. My goal is to get the best men out there and build a championship-caliber team."
LaFontaine further described his idea of culture change:
"I think it's a philosophy and a direction," he said. "Not only do you want to change the culture as far as where you see this team going, but it's in the locker room, the front office and the hockey department that they want to be part of culture change together. Anytime you have new leadership, you have to prepare the troops. ... We've got a lot of work in front of us. We have to be patient, smart, selective. It's not going to happen overnight but I can tell you this -- we'll get the right people."
LaFontaine said he will not be the team's general manager and will lead the search for the next GM.
"I don't have the experience right now in the general manager's job," he said. "But I know people and I know people out there who know how to do the job. I think putting together the right people to build that team and working together, that's my strength. … I think my strengths are people and making sure everyone's on board and doing their job. I told [Pegula], I said I could probably grow into that [GM] position but right now I think I could best serve you by building the hockey operations side of things."
LaFontaine played for the Sabres from 1991-97, totaling 158 goals and 385 points in 268 games, and his 148 points in 1992-93 remains a single-season franchise record. He was the team's captain for the final five seasons of his tenure and his No. 16 has been retired by the team.
Regier had been the team's general manager since 1997; in his 16 full seasons, the Sabres went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs eight times, including four trips to the Eastern Conference Final and a spot in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Nolan previously coached the Sabres from 1995-97; he won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 1997 after leading the Sabres to a 40-30-12 record, but was fired after that season. Nolan said assistant coaches Teppo Numminen, Joe Sacco and Jerry Forton would remain in their roles.
"I don't know there's enough words inside me to express how excited I really am," Nolan said. "I may have left [Buffalo] physically but emotionally and spiritually I never left. It's a big part of who I am."
He had been coaching Latvia's national team since 2011, and is set to coach Latvia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Rolston had been named Sabres coach in February when Lindy Ruff was fired. In parts of two seasons he went 19-26-6. This season the Sabres are 4-15-1, and their nine points place them 30th in the League standings.