'While introducing Peter Laviolette as his team's coach yesterday, Islanders general manager Mike Milbury believed it was necessary to acknowledge runner-up Ted Nolan and emphasize the positive impression he made on Milbury during the interview process.'
Ted Nolan overstated his own value and found himself out on his can. He was offered the head coach job in Tampa and turned it down because he wanted more money. Are you kidding me? He was offered a job to coach in the OHL; feeling it would be a major step down, he turned that down. It's been NHL or nothing for Teddy. So far, it's been nothing.
'He was driving home Monday evening feeling good about himself when his cell phone rang. It was a reporter with an update, confirming the worst. Nolan wasn't getting the job. He should have known. He thought he could bear the news, but the truth is he was devastated. He turned off the cell phone and pulled over. And he cried.'
'Nolan said in an earlier interview that he knew he made mistakes in his relationships with management in Buffalo but that he never intentionally tried to undermine anyone there, including Muckler. He also received support from Jean Knox, the wife of the former Sabres founder and team president and from Pat LaFontaine, a former Islanders and Sabres player who played for Nolan in Buffalo. Both are said to have lobbied for Nolan in regards the Islanders job.'
'Hockey's Thruway marriage – the longest between an NHL club and its top minor league affiliate – is at a crossroads. Their nuptials expire after this season, and while the teams aren't necessarily estranged, they've started playing the field.'
'Hasek played well in the playoffs, but not well enough to reach the third round. He's no longer the best in the world, but he's among the best in the league. He hasn't proven he can win the Cup, but almost every Cup contender needs a great goalie. He wants the Sabres to give him another crack.'
'He thought he deserved more respect. Instead, he still is waiting for his next opportunity to come. If it ever does. "I proved I can win," he said, "and that's the bottom line." Apparently, it's not enough in Nolan's case.'
‘Ted Nolan could have done that. He would have been a galvanizing presence. He would have become the face of the Islanders, a confident and smiling face. It would have been interesting to talk about his rise from a modest upbringing-he and his brother couldn’t play on the same shift when they were in youth leagues because they had to share a pair of gloves-to the NHL’s coach of the year with the Buffalo Sabres.’
'In bypassing Nolan, Milbury is likely to add to the reputation that Nolan will not be hired by any current NHL general manger. Nolan hasn't worked in the NHL since a nasty separation from Buffalo during which there was a long-simmering feud between himself and former Sabres general manager John Muckler and a feud between Nolan and star goaltender Dominik Hasek.'
After dismissing early-season critics with a rousing start, the 2000-2001 Buffalo Sabres produced one of the more memorable regular seasons in their franchise history. Here are this season's final grades in numerical order with Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier saved for last…
'So apologies are due to the best minds of my generation and all those dharma bums out there on the road somewhere for this imitative effort to chronicle the lows of poor Buffalo suffering through a bout of Kasparaitis Bop.'
'The "Hockey Hotline" pair knows the diehard and sophisticated hockey fans who dial in, not just locally and regionally but across the cable universe, cannot be fooled. If the players don't like it, they should take Robitaille up on his offer and speak with him directly.'
'I don't think life is unfair for Buffalo hockey. The Sabres have qualified for the playoffs in 13 of the last 14 seasons. In three of the last four they advanced at least to the quarterfinals. They do it as a small-market team with a small-market budget.'
'Nolan has learned more about dealing with people in his last four years away from hockey than he did in his two years in Buffalo. He has a much better understanding of management after putting together a hockey program for Native North Americans across Canada. He also has had time to reflect on his own actions during his feud with Muckler and, presumably, realizes he was at least part of the problem.'
'"That's the probable scenario," our man said, laughing off a report out of Buffalo indicating Hasek would be willing to play for the Sabres next season for $6M. "I know what Dom would like to do, and it has absolutely nothing to with remaining in Buffalo at a discount."'