When the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers meet Thursday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia it will be matchup of two teams already on their second coaches of the 2013-14 season.
Though that's notable in itself, there's another reason the meeting of Ted Nolan of the Sabres and Craig Berube of the Flyers stands out. According to the Flyers, this marks the first time two First Nations coaches have run opposing benches.
According to the Flyers, tonight's Sabres-Flyers game marks the first time two Native Canadian coaches have been on opposing benches. (Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
"It's huge," Nolan said following the Sabres' practice Thursday. "I was pretty happy when I heard Craig Berube was the head coach here. It's really big in First Nation territory back home in Canada. The word spreads quite quick so I'm sure there's a lot of people that are extremely proud and will be watching this game, and think it's really good for the next generation of young kids to see that also. We do have a lot of talented kids out there who just need a little break."
Berube replaced Peter Laviolette on Oct. 7. The Flyers have gone 8-7-2 since the coaching change, but enter Thursday 4-0-1 in their past five.
Nolan, who previously coached the Sabres from 1995 to 1997, started his second stint in Buffalo on Nov. 13 when he was named interim coach, replacing Ron Rolston. The Sabres are 1-2-0 with him behind the bench.
"Teddy and I played against each other in the minors a little bit," Berube said following the Flyers' practice Thursday. "That's when I first played against him. I'm very happy for Ted to be back in the NHL. He's a good coach. He'll do a good job there."
Berube said his focus, however, would be more on the players on the ice than the person on the other bench.
"It's great," he said. "I'm not saying it's not. I'm glad to be part of it, but I don't really have a whole lot to say on it."
However Peter Dinsdale, chief executive officer of the Assembly of First Nations, told the Philadelphia Daily News on Wednesday that Nolan and Berube "are real trailblazers in sport, especially in the NHL."