BUFFALO -- Ted Nolan may not be a native Latvian, but without him Latvia's hockey team might not be in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He also may not have returned to the NHL were it not for his work with the Eastern European nation.
Three years after being removed as coach of the New York Islanders, Nolan was hired as coach of the Latvian national team on Aug. 3, 2011. At the time, Latvia was on the outside looking in for the 2014 Olympics and needed to win its way into the Sochi Games. Nolan's task was to do his best to make that happen and turn the hockey program around.
"Coaching overseas wasn't something I ever planned on doing," Nolan said. "It was just a call. I got a call on a Wednesday night, I'll never forget it. 'Ted, are you interested in going to Latvia?' I said, 'Where is it?' They called me [back] on a Friday and I think on Monday morning I was on a plane going to Latvia."