BUFFALO, N.Y. - Ted Nolan has had special moments in his life: getting married, the birth of his children and coaching his first NHL game.
Getting the call from Pat LaFontaine to return as coach of the Buffalo Sabres was on that level. Even on a last-place team, it is a welcome fresh start for Nolan.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native will be back behind the bench Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Nolan has been too worried about learning his players' names to be nervous.
It's an organizational change on the fly for the Sabres, who fired general manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston on Wednesday. LaFontaine took over as president of hockey operations and called Nolan to join him and finish out the season.
Nolan was travelling in Europe when he got the call from LaFontaine, who promised him Broadway theatre tickets. Reviving his role as a prankster from his playing days, LaFontaine told Nolan that he wouldn't be able to see the "Book of Mormon" musical or watch his son Jordan play this weekend. Instead, he'd be coaching the Sabres.