By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- On the eve of the trade deadline, and after a late-night arrival from Dallas, Ted Nolan told his players to take the day and not think about hockey. And he's not thinking too much about his own status either as new GM Tim Murray gets set for the most important day yet in the overhaul of the franchise.
"Tim and the coaching staff and all are really focused on the trades. We don't need to be negotiating a contract at this point. I'm not going anywhere. I'm here," Nolan said during an early-afternoon chat with The Buffalo News, TSN and Sabres.com in the lobby of the Westin Harbour Island hotel. "I'm trying to do the best job I possibly can and worry about the team. We've got a bunch of young kids who don't really know what happened and why. I can give them some direction and leadership right now."
Nolan had a morning meeting with his team in the hoteland his message was simply that he understands how the sudden departure of Pat LaFontaine combined with the trade deadline can add to the stress. But the players simply need to get on the ice and keep playing.
"Some don't know if they're going to be here after today," Nolan said. "Who knows who's going to be here tomorrow? Right now they're here together so I decided to give them a day where they could enjoy being themselves.
"That's why I decided today to let them do something outside of hockey. Let them go to the dog races or go fishing or go walk in the beach, enjoy the sunshine and just be themselves today and try to get hockey out of the system. We go to the rink, we're going to talk hockey all the time. There's some other things that can be a little bit more interesting than talking hockey 24 hours."
The TSN crew was focused solely on Nolan's contract and the coach answered questions just as he did in Buffalo on Sunday.
"There's a lot more important issues than getting my contract signed," Nolan said. "People are looking at it. It's in the proper hands. ... I have no concerns with my personal situation right now. It's all about this team and how we get through this period."
Nolan admitted he's as curious as anyone else to see who he will be coaching at tomorrow's practice -- and especially at Thursday's morning skate. But he' s not too involved in all the trade talk.
"I'm a coach. I'm not going to make trades, I'm not going to worry about the draft," Nolan said. "I want to coach the players I have and Tim and his staff are very capable of making some good trades. Whatever happens the next 24 hours I've got to deal with who's here."
For Nolan's complete chat, click the audio file below: