Decision to replace Sabres' head coach Ted Nolan obvious, intelligent
From the ice to the bench, Sabres demonstrate commitment to next season
With the pursuit of a last place finish successfully concluded, the Sabres are now guaranteed a chance to select either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, the two most promising talents in the NHL right now, in this year’s draft.
With the firing of current head coach Ted Nolan, the team also has the opportunity to hire a new coach of similar caliber – so Sabres fans have to be hoping that management won’t tank this process.
It’s time to start thinking about winning again.
In fairness to Nolan, he took on a team firmly in the midst of the rebuilding process with a subpar roster.
But with that came lower expectations – no one expected Nolan to lead this team to the Stanley Cup, or even to a .500 record. Nolan must have done something right because the Sabres at least got that prized draft pick.
Part of a rebuild, though, involves individual player development. The Sabres’ roster isn’t entirely worthless.
There are some players worth keeping – players who needed to continue making progress even as their team racked up losses.
When the Sabres start playing to win again, rookies and younger players like Cody Hodgson, Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko have to be ready to compete like playoff contenders.
Nolan failed to foster an environment where this could happen, so he gets the boot – and rightly so.
When expectations are minimal, and even those aren’t fulfilled, it’s clear that new blood is needed.
General Manager Tim Murray clearly has this in mind, as he fired not only Nolan but also all but one of the team’s assistant coaches.
Now Murray has to justify the dramatic clearing of the coaching bench with new hires that can lead this team to victory once again. He wasn’t content with Nolan’s work and said the chemistry between the pair wasn’t there either, commenting on a lack of communication between the two.
Murray has plenty of time – and options – when it comes to finding a new head coach. But his selection has to be spot-on, for his sake as well as the sake of the team’s upcoming season.
It’s clear that Murray is in no rush to make his selection, as he’s said that the Sabres aren’t putting a timetable on the process.
While it’s encouraging that Murray isn’t going to make a hasty decision, there are other teams looking for new coaches. Even with the end of regular season, the competition off the ice continues.
The Sabres need to make sure other coachless teams like Toronto, New Jersey and Edmonton don’t snap up the best prospects.
This concern is especially worrisome because more teams may be on the hunt soon, too, with Detroit, San Jose, Boston and Pittsburgh also potentially making staff changes.
Doing thorough research of the multiple candidates is only beneficial if those candidates don’t become coaches for opposing teams.