The Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Nolan on April 12 after a 23-51-8 record for 54 points--the worst in the league-- at the conclusion of the 2014-15 NHL season.
The Buffalo Sabres have fired head coach Ted Nolan.
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Sabres general manager Tim Murray announced Nolan's dismissal via a press release on the team's official website on Sunday:
"Buffalo Sabres General Manager Tim Murray today announced Ted Nolan has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. In addition, Murray also announced Danny Flynn has been relieved of his duties as an assistant coach and the contracts of Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen will not be renewed."
The Buffalo News' John Vogl confirmed Nolan's firing in his April 12 update. The Sabres finished a woeful 23-51-8 at the conclusion of the 2014-15 NHL season -- the second consecutive year Buffalo finished dead last in the league in Nolan's second term as Sabres head coach.
The Sabres were also 44 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
Murray discussed Nolan's dismissal in a separate Buffalo News article:
"We both said it's too bad it didn't work out. Is it chemistry? Maybe it's just chemistry. Maybe it's just two different personalities. You need chemistry on the ice, and you need chemistry off the ice.
"You have to find a perfect fit to be successful, and maybe it just wasn't a perfect fit.
"I know this isn't a popular thing. To me it's about getting better. I feel that this was an opportunity maybe for us to improve and keep the improvement going."
Nolan declined comment when The Buffalo News reached out to him.
Murray removed Nolan's interim tag and gave him a three-year deal during the 2013-14 NHL season -- the same year when former Sabres president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine resigned after being on the job for barely four months.
Murray: Teddy was very professional, extremely professional (about the news). I thanked him, he thanked me. Wish him well.— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 12, 2015
Vogt says Nolan "was devastated" after LaFontaine, his biggest supporter within the organization, left in March 2014:
"Right now is not about my contract. It's about the situation that just happened. It's about what transpired in this organization, what happened to a very dear friend.
"I have to put my personal situation behind right now."
Shortly after LaFontaine resigned, Nolan had "a long talk" with Murray, per Vogt. The Sabres then gave Nolan a three-year extension on the heels of their 3-18-2 finish last season.
Nolan was hardly to blame for it as he inherited a second-rate roster and worked with assistants he was largely unfamiliar with, per The Buffalo News.
According to Vogt, "Murray publicly endorsed Nolan during their first season together, but the GM's fondness for Nolan's coaching dissipated this year." Murray felt he was able to strengthen the Sabres' lineup, but got the same outcome from Nolan.
The Sabres set several records for futility in 2014-15.
Buffalo endured a point-less month of January and even lost 14 straight games at one point. The team's 1.87 goals-per-game average ranked dead-last while its 3.28 goals-surrendered-per-game average ranked 29th, per Vogt.
With these, Murray told The Buffalo News on Sunday that Nolan's dismissal possibly would not have happened had the Sabres shown some improvement:
"I didn't foresee us being a 30th-place team. Certainly after the trade deadline, trading out guys, I had a big part in that. There's no question, and I own that.
"If we finished 24th and showed great improvement, is it possible that this wouldn't have happened? I guess it's possible."
Murray also discussed the job status of Sabres goaltending coach Arturs Irbe, per Vogt:
"I haven't decided exactly what I want to do with him going forward. If he's still employed by us at the time we hire a new head coach, the head coach will decide on the goalie coach. But would I recommend him to be interviewed by the next coach? I would have no problem doing that."
Vogt identified several potential replacements for Nolan. Among them are minor-league coach Luke Richardson, Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
Murray chimed in on his coaching search, per The Buffalo News:
"I want to have the biggest pool of coaching candidates that I can get. I don't know what's going on to be with the teams they're with now, who's going to be let go. I have no idea on that, that's why there's no timetable."
The 57-year-old Nolan amassed a 113-159-19-17 record for 262 points in a six-year coaching career spanning 1995-97, 2006-08 and 2013-15 with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, per Hockey-Reference.com.
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