Pat LaFontaine had a big day Thursday. He announced the hiring of his new general manager, Tim Murray, and had an added surprise -- the addition of Craig Patrick, the Hockey Hall of Famer and long-time Penguins general manager, as an advisor to the hockey department.
LaFontaine had a free-wheeling, 15-minute session with reporters after the press conference. Here are a few highlights of Patty's conversation with the media. On the reasons for hiring Murray:
"When I looked at it, Tim was our best fit. I looked for a guy with a tremendous eye for talent and evaluating our next great Buffalo Sabres players for our future. He's the right guy.
"The thing that struck me is, he's paid his dues. He's earned this opportunity. He knows organization from every level, as an assistant general manager and GM of a minor league system. He won a championship in Binghamton two years ago. He knows every facet. He's decisive, he's a team guy, he cares, he loyal and respectful and trustworthy. He's going to be a big piece and a big part to identify those next great Buffalo Sabre players."
"He's a class guy. His advice and assistance, I think, will be very, very valuable through this process.
"I said, Craig, why would you want to get involved still? And he looked me right in the eye and said, 'Because I know I have two more Stanley Cups in me.' He says, 'I'm not done.' He looked me straight in the eye. When a Hall of Famer, a guy who's done what he's done -- gold medal, Olympics -- looks at you, he wants to help. He wants to give advice. He wants to assist. I want guys like that and I want guys like Tim Murray, who have a gift."
He said two cups? Terry Pegula will love that.
"Two more! He didn't say one. He said he's got two more. I actually like the fact of Cups plural. If we're going to build a championship-caliber team, we have to have a real strong, gifted hockey operations team first. It's got to translate straight on to the players."
On Ryan Miller's future with the team:
"I listen to what Ryan Miller wants to do. Obviously, you want to keep a great goalie like that. He knows Buffalo. Everybody loves him here. But at the same instance, I've got to know what he wants to do, and if it fits into the plan long-term and financially it's a good fit, Ryan Miller will be here. And if he doesn't want to be here, we'll make the best choice for the future of the organziation.
"Listen. To come by a goalie like that who wants to stay -- should he choose to want to stay here -- it helps our team grow. It gives us an opportunity to develop. If he wants to stay here, in the right terms, I think you'd love to keep Ryan Miller."
On Ted Nolan, and whether the idea of keeping him was a detriment in the GM search:
"No. I think it took a general manager with a very open mind to understand who's there now and be willing to give Teddy the opportunity. Because he is a great coach. Teddy has proven himself. Tim said "Hey, I really like Ted Nolan. I'd like to get to know him. And I'd like to know what you think of him. I'd like to know where we're at. I like where the team is going.'"
"It's about changing culture. As you can see, Tim Murray has paid his dues. He's earned this opportunity, every step of the way, and he knows Teddy has done the same thing. Let them get to know each other. A general manager and a coach have to work tight together. They have to be a good team. and he was very open to doing that."