By John Vogl
Ted Nolan has been friends with Pat LaFontaine since the mid-1990s. That's not going to change. The Sabres' coach has also lived through chaos in the Buffalo organization before, so he knows what a firestorm this is right now.
The emotional man also knows now is not the time to talk at length about everything that is going on.
"It’s one of those situations where I have to put my personal situation behind right now and really concentrate on those 22 guys here," Nolan said this morning after practice in First Niagara Center. "That was the main I reason got here was to try to turn things around and coach the Buffalo Sabres. Right now especially I’m going to really concentrate on that because we traded our franchise player, we traded our captain.
"It’s tough enough as it is. All of a sudden, a situation happens with Patty. Right now I’ve just got put how I’m feeling away to the side and deal with the team."
The wild weekend that has seen LaFontaine resign as president of hockey operations and Ryan Miller and Steve Ott get traded has weighed heavily on Nolan. The emotions are even more raw because the interim coach, who was brought in by LaFontaine, is in the midst of contract negotiations.
"Right now I can’t even discuss that. It’s such an emotional roller coaster," Nolan said. "Right now is not the time to discuss that because of the situation that just occurred. When you’re emotional, you never want to make emotional comments on anything.
"Yes, we did talk about contract, so like I said right now is not about my contract. It’s about the situation that just happened. It’s about what transpired in this organization, what happened to a very dear friend. We’ll leave it at that."
During Nolan's last coaching stay in Buffalo (1995-97), a huge power struggle that featured the coach, John Muckler and Dominik Hasek took place. The dysfunction was clear, as it is now.
"I went through that a number of years ago," Nolan said. "I can’t control what people assume. There’s something happened, and I don’t know, so I can’t answer a question that I don’t know."
One thing that's clear is Nolan will miss working alongside LaFontaine.
"I don’t want even want to think about it, to tell you the truth. It’s that tough," Nolan said. "It hasn’t just been the last two months with Patty. I formed that relationship with him as a player back last time I was coaching. Everybody knows what kind of man Patty is. They don’t come much better than him."
taggedPat LaFontaine | Ted Nolan