Sabres general manager Tim Murray released former head coach Ted Nolan, Ojibwa, from his contract Sunday, citing the team’s losing streak.
For the second straight season, the Buffalo Sabres had the worst record in the NHL, finishing 23-51-8, a slight improvement from last year’s 21-51-10.
"I don't know if I was disappointed [in Nolan]," Murray told NHL.com. "We decided to go with young guys in a rebuild and surround them with some high-character veterans and we've done that. We still finished in 30th place. There's been a lot of changes here and that's on me. I'm not going to question his coaching decisions."
Nolan was hired as interim coach in November 2013, and signed for the full-time job with a three-year extension deal in March of 2014. He first coached the Sabres during the 1995-96 season, and again in the 1996-97 season. At the end of the 1997 season, the Sabres’ overall record was 73-72-19. Also at that time, Nolan won the Jack Adams Award, an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the coach judged to have contributed the most to his team's success. He ended this season with an overall (2013-2015) 40-87-17 record.
Nolan has yet to make a formal statement, but reactions on Twitter were supportive of him.
“Hey Buffalo,” wrote Edmonton Sun reporter Rob Tychkowski, “Firing Ted Nolan because the Sabres weren't winning is like firing a Kamikaze pilot because he wrecked the plane.”
USA Today tweeted: “What's expected isn't always fair. The Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Ted Nolan.”
In 2013, Nolan and Craig Berube, of the Flyers, made history when the two head coaches of First Nation descent played against each other in an NHL matchup. The Sabres lost that game 1-4.
No replacement for Nolan has been announced.