BUFFALO, N.Y.-When Ted Nolan coached the Sabres the first time, the team was known as "the hardest working team in hockey." Nolan and the team endeared themselves to the fan base.
Nolan was hired by the Hartford Whalers in 94-95 and a year later was hired by the Sabres as their head coach.
For his work during the 1996-97 season he was named the Jack Adams award winner, given annually the NHL's top coach.
Nolan's Sabres were tough to play against. Opponents had to work hard to play against the Sabres. Players like Rob Ray and Matthew Barnaby were notbiggoal scorers, but were key components on Nolan's teams. However, it was Nolan's relationship with star goaltender Dominik Hasek and former general manager John Mucklerthat did him in.
Hasek went so far as sayingduring the 1997 NHL Awards ceremony that "it would be better for me if he didn't return" as head coach. Hasekhad left game three of a playoff series with Ottawa after being scored upon. His departure forced Steve Shields into action. Hasek said he felt something pop in his knee and team doctors declared him day to day. Hasek took exception to what the late Jim Kelley wrote in the Buffalo News and physically attacked him. Hasek was suspended by the league for three games.
The Sabres beat Ottawa in seven games and advanced to the next round against Philadelphia. The Sabres lost the series in five games. Hasek took exception to what the late Jim Kelley wrote in the Buffalo News about what happened in Ottawa and physically attacked him. Hasek was suspended by the league for three games. With the Sabres down 3-games to none Hasek was scheduled to return to the lineup but after the pregame skate he told the coaching staff he felt a twinge in his knee and left the ice. Shields helped the Sabres avoid the sweep. Muckler who also had a rocky relationship with Nolan was fired before the 1997-98 season.
When Darcy Regier offered Nolan a one year contract shortly after being hired as general manager to replace John Muckler, Nolan turned down the offer andhis tenure as Sabres head coach came to an end.
After leaving theSabres, Nolan was offered the head coaching job in Tampa in 1997 and wasoffered a position as an assistant coach with the Islanders in 1998.He turned them both down. It would take until May of 2006 for Nolan to return behind an NHL team's bench. There was speculation of outright racism and it was also widely believed that he was labeled as a "GM killer" that prevented him from getting a head coaching position in the NHL.
Currently, while also serving as the Sabres interim coach, Nolan is also the head coach of team Latvia and will be allowed to coach the team during the upcoming Olympics.
Nolan played in the NHL with Pittsburgh and Detroit. In 78 NHL games with the Penguins and Red Wings, Nolan had 22 points on 6 goals and 16 assists.
Nolan was the head coach of the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in 1988. He took over in mid season and coach there until the end of the 1994 season. He led the Greyhounds to three consecutive berths in the Memorial Cup. They won the Canadian national junior championship in 1993.
Nolan's two sons, Jordan and Brandon are hockey players. Jordan won a Stanley Cup with the LA Kings.
Nolan has now come full circle as hereturns behind the bench for the Sabres. He is the interim coach as the new general manager, when he's hired, will determine who gets the permanent position.