The Buffalo Sabres open training camp under Ted Nolan today and most fans and followers of the NHL expect a finish at the bottom of the league. The one person who doesn’t expect that is Ted Nolan. This season Nolan has his own coaching staff and his own system in place, he expects different results.

Ted Nolan has always been a fierce competitor, going back to the days when he was a player coming up in the amateur ranks. Nolan has also shown an ability to motivate young players and get them to over achieve. There were only brief glimpses of that last season, but Nolan is counting on a fresh start with new coaches and a few more talented youngsters to turn that around.

This all flies in the face of those of who want the Sabres to more or less tank the season so they can draft Connor McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft. However, even the suggestion to Nolan that he should have his team give less than their best effort is an insult.

Nolan felt that the team he inherited last season from Ron Rolston was out of shape, at least for a 82 game regular season. Nolan has stressed to this season’s squad that they must show up today in shape and ready to go. The team has been working out for over a month on their own, but today their level of fitness will be one of the things tested. If a player shows up less than what Nolan expects, he will bring it to their attention immediately.

Ted Nolan’s new coaches are Bryan Trottier, Danny Flynn, Tom Coolen and his goaltender coach is Arturs Irbe. Nolan hand picked this group, each supplying a quality he believes is critical in the development of a young team. Nolan feels comfortable that his new staff will reflect his philosophy on and off the ice and echo his passion for the game. Anyone familiar with Nolan knows how much loyalty and and a united front means to him.

I expect a more competitive Buffalo Sabres hockey team this season. One that plays hard, physical and rises to the challenge more than last season. I wouldn’t pencil them into a playoff spot just yet, but I would be surprised if they are in the running for McDavid in June.


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