Ted Nolan was hired, on an interim basis, by the Buffalo Sabres to stabilize a team that was in a freefall. To that end, he’s been successful: The Sabres are 8-11-3 under Nolan, after going 4-15-1 under Ron Rolston during their epic stumble of a start.
But all bets are off when a new general manager is hired, as Tim Murray was with the Sabres on Thursday. New GMs want their own guys; so can Ted Nolan still become Murray’s?
“Teddy’s my guy right now,” said Murray during his introductory press conference. “I got the job last night. I’m going to come in here and try to establish a relationship with Ted and his staff.”
Murray said he knows Nolan “from arenas,” as their paths crossed when Murray was visiting rinks as a player personnel guy for the Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. But he’s never worked with Nolan.
“There’s no preconceived notions. I’m looking forward to getting to know him.”
Neither Murray nor Sabres president Pat LaFontaine gave Nolan a vote of confidence, but both sounded open-minded about giving the veteran coach a shot at keeping the job on a permanent basis.
But again, the reality: Tim Murray has been around this game for over a decade. He’s built close relationships with guys who could become the next Sabres head coach – guys like Cory Clouston, whom he hired with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL and who is now head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders; and what about a guy like Brad Shaw, the St. Louis Blues’ associate coach with whom Murray worked when they were with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim?
“Do I have a specific guy [in mind]? No,” said Murray. “I’m open minded about this coming on.”
It’s also his first day on the job, and Murray began bristling at the questions about his interim coach’s future.
“I don’t want to think about negativity. I want to think about moving forward,” he said.
OK, we'll go ahead and be negative for you, Tim: Short of the Sabres somehow making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we can't conceive how Murray isn't going to bring in his own coach when Nolan is just a half-season interim band-aid.
In fact, we'd offer that Joe Sacco, Sabres assistant coach, has a better shot at getting the gig.