Ted Nolan’s dismissal was no surprise. The relationship between Tim Murray and Nolan has never been great since the “resignation” of Pat LaFontaine. However, to hear Murray say he made the decision after interviewing the players for six hours on Sunday seems odd to me. Nolan’s reputation with players has always been strong, just ask Brad May or Tyler Ennis.

Ennis has publicly credited Nolan for his growth as an NHL player and the Sabres “MVP” this season is not alone. Even Mikhail Grigorenko, who has spent plenty of time in Nolan’s dog house this season, credits Ted with helping him understand what it takes to be a NHL player.

In the final minutes of the Sabres last broadcast of the season Saturday night, former Sabre Brad May gave Nolan a heart-felt testimonial. May praised Nolan as a leader of men and an individual NHL players respect and want to play for. May pointed out the effort this depleted team continued to give despite their record in the final month and credited Nolan for that. I’m guessing Management didn’t appreciate May’s editorial considering Nolan’s future was predetermined for months.

Ted Nolan was also popular with Sabres fans who remember the job he did in Buffalo in the 1990’s. Nolan took an underachieving team and turned them into playoff contenders. However, Nolan’s horrible relationship with then GM John Muckler and goalie Dominik Hasek did him in.

Now, believe it or not, almost twenty years later there are individuals within the Sabres front office who still privately criticize Nolan because of what went down between him and Muckler. Had Pat LaFontaine remained those staffers would probably have been sent packing, but such was not the case.

Tim Murray called Nolan a good man and said it just wasn’t a great fit between the two. Murray put some of that blame on himself but said the move was for the best of the organization. Murray, to his credit, said he was not going to run Ted Nolan down, but did seem to indicate that finishing in last place was on Nolan. Really? Wasn’t that the plan all along?

I will say that I was surprised Nolan’s second tenure with the team did not go better. Nolan was unable to capture that magic he had with this franchise in the 90’s or get this team to over-achieve as he has with the Latvian national squad.

Nolan has been criticized by former NHL player and coach Mike Milbury as not being an X’s and O’s guy. Some in the local media Sunday repeated those criticisms, calling Nolan a “motivator” but not a good tactical coach. Really? Then why has Nolan won at every level and usually without a team stocked with stars?

Ted Nolan still has two years remaining on his contract so he won’t have to worry about a pay check. My guess is Nolan will probably resurface in amateur hockey at some level because he can coach. It would have been nice to see him succeed right here in Buffalo because he loved the city and most of the fans loved him.

Tim Murray said that if he didn’t find a better fit at coach then someone else would be doing his job. Such is the life in professional sports. and like life often not fair. Ted Nolan knows that better than most, but he can still hold his head high and say I gave it my all.

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