BUFFALO, NY - Among the most thrilled of Sabres fans with the return of coach Ted Nolan in particular, is Jean Knox.

The widow of Seymour Knox, who along with his brother Northrup founded the team, never wanted to see Nolan leave in the first place.

As contract talks broke down back in 1997, Mrs. Knox was front and center with fans at a rally, calling for the Sabres management to retain Nolan after he had just been named NHL coach of the year.

This was a month after her husband passed away, and at the time, she told Channel 2 News "If Seymour were alive today, the contract would have been signed."

Reached by phone in Peterborough, Ontario on Wednesday,Knox could not be happier that Nolan is back 16 years later.

"I am so excited for Ted because he's the best coach that Buffalo ever had and I'm so glad he's going to be back...I think it's absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to come to a game," Mrs. Knox told 2 On Your Side.

For his part, Nolan says he wished he could have told Knox that he was returning, but had to keep it a secret.

"Last night and going into this morning, one of the people we wish could have been there was Jean Knox, so we'll reach out to her probably very shortly," Nolan said.

When Mrs. Knox's husband died Nolan, an Ojibwe Indian, gave her an eagle feather. She wore it to the 1997 rally, and still keeps it as a treasured gift today.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On YOur Side Reporter dave Mckinley and Photojournalist Bob Mancuso. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2