Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula today announced that Pat LaFontaine has been hired to serve as President of Hockey Operations for the team. Pegula also announced that Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston have been relieved of their respective duties. Ted Nolan has been hired as the team’s interim head coach and the Sabres have retained the remainder of the coaching staff.
LaFontaine joins the Sabres after beginning the season as vice president of development and community affairs for the NHL. He will work with Assistant General Manager Kevin Devine on day-to-day hockey operations while conducting the search for the Sabres’ next general manager.
LaFontaine enjoyed an illustrious 15-year career, including six seasons with the Sabres, before retiring from the NHL in 1998 as the second highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history with 468 goals and 1,013 points in 865 games. Today, he ranks sixth among all Americans in goals and ninth in points, and his 1.17 points-per-game average ranks 11th among the 79 1,000-point scorers in NHL history.
He had a career year for Buffalo in 1992-93 when he set Sabres records for points (148) and assists (95) in a season. After being sidelined by a knee injury for most of the 1993-94 season, he returned as team captain in 1994-95 and was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey. LaFontaine played with the Sabres from 1991-1997, finishing with 385 points (158+227) in 268 games with the team.
Nolan re-joins the Sabres after coaching the team to a 73-72-19 record in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, a stint during which he became the franchise’s first Jack Adams Award winner following a first-place Northeast Division finish in 1996-97. Nolan later spent two seasons as head coach of the New York Islanders, guiding the Islanders to a 74-68-21 record during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Nolan began his NHL coaching career as an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers in 1994-95 after building a successful resume in junior hockey that culminated with a Memorial Cup win in 1993-94 in his sixth and final season as head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL). Prior to his coaching career, Nolan tallied 22 points (6+16) in 78 NHL games as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.