By Amy Moritz
The news we have all been waiting for is here: Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston are out and Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan are in.
"Last night I relieved Darcy Regier from his duties as Buffalo Sabres general manager and Ron Rolston as head coach," Sabres owner Terry Pegula said at a news conference in First Niagara Center.
Pegula announced the creation of a new title in the Sabres organization, president of hockey operations, which will be filled by LaFontaine. Ted Nolan was named interim head coach effective today.
Ted Black said: "It gives me great pleasure to introduce Pat. His accomplishments are easily summarized: Hall of Famer. ... Pat is a better person than he ever was a hockey player."
LaFontaine said that he knows Buffalo, the passion of the fans and the hard work and effort that the region embraces and that he will actively be looking for a new general manager.
"I believe that in life everything prepares you for what you're supposed to do next," LaFontaine said. "I can't tell you how excited and ready I am to take this position. Because of that, the first thing I wanted to do is something at the player's level. We'll bridge it together."
The bridge will include a culture change, a phrase heard throughout the news conference. What does that look like for LaFontaine?
"I think it's a philosophy and a direction," LaFontaine said. "Not only do you want to change the culture as far as where you see this team going, but it's in the locker room, the front office and the hockey department that they want to be part of culture change together. Anytime you have new leadership, you have to prepare the troops. ... We've got a lot of work in front of us. We have to be patient, smart, selective. It's not going to happen overnight but I can tell you this, we'll get the right people and still filing the holes and the environment will grow."
Nolan returns to Buffalo and it feels a bit like a homecoming for him.
"I don't know there's enough words inside me to express how excited I really am," Nolan said. "I may have left [Buffalo] physically but emotionally and spiritually I never left. It's a big part of who I am."
Nolan, who got emotional during the news conference, noted he had been through some tough times, thinking he wouldn't get the chance to coach in the NHL again.
"I'm really thankful for the opportunity and will give it all I have ... and try not to let the people of Buffalo down," Nolan said. "We'll make it exciting and a place people want to come to enjoy hockey games again."
Nolan will be the interim head coach as LaFontaine said the next general manager will make the decision on coaching going forward next year. Nolan announced he will retain the current assistant coaches.
“We’re in the entertainment business," Nolan said. "We have to entertain. ... Immediately it’s about getting these guys to compete and work. That’s all you can do for now and good lord willing with some bounces you win. The bottom line is to compete so the fans leave here and don't feel cheated, don’t feel like they wasted whatever they paid for their ticket.”
- Video: Vogl & Harrington on Sabres' big changes
- Video: Nolan's remarks at news conference
- Video: Pegula's remarks at news conference
- Photo gallery: Pat LaFontaine through the years
- Photo gallery: Ted Nolan through the years
- The News' archives: Stories about Pat LaFontaine
- The News' archives: Stories about Ted Nolan
- Audio: Players' reaction after first practice with Nolan
- A look back at Darcy Regier's tenure as GM
- Original story following news conference
- Review news conference through News writers' tweets