Bourne: Sabres' timing may be curious, still a shuffle in right direction

by Nov 13, 2:40 PM

It's tough to argue that the Buffalo Sabres didn't need to make some changes, but at the same time, it's just as to tough for some understand why today (or yesterday) was when they had to happen. The team is terrible, sure, but they were apparently bottoming out willingly for high picks. There's not much Ron Rolston could've done with the gross roster he was handed. Darcy Regier seemed to be getting good return for the talent they were shipping out. And hey, they just beat the Sharks(!) and the Kings(!). So when team owner Terry Pegula was asked why he decided to make the change now and basically said "Because I just felt like it," it's easy to be curious. 

To that, I say, "who cares?" Who cares if you don't get why it happened now, this team has been free-falling down the standings for awhile, and the point which you realize you've hit rock-bottom is always a great time to start rebuilding. Those wins against LA and San Jose are irrelevant. The team is still last place in the league, and I'm guessing Pegula didn't start planning these changes during yesterday's game.

So about those changes: 

Creating the position of President of Hockey Operations for Pat LaFontaine is a great call. If the Sabres are, as Pegula says, about people, Pat is one of the best, and he's awfully smart too. I believe in the trickle-down in cases like this. 

Bringing in Ted Nolan is somewhere between a curious and "bad" move. A lot of people wonder why he didn't get more NHL opportunities after losing his last NHL gig, and that answer is, quite bluntly, that he's not that great at coaching. Complex, I know. He's a wonderful man - I mean that, he really is - but he wasn't blackballed or anything. He's just not that great at it. And to slap the "interim" tag on him on top of that is even more curious. Why not take the time to find Your Guy before getting some other guy's hopes up?

I'm guessing the Sabres put "interim" there in case the GM they hire isn't a fan of Nolan's, but you'd think they'd wait to make the major changes at major positions before sending in a guy to "change the culture," as they claimed.

The Sabres are going to be terrible this year, that's still happening. But I do believe that with Pat LaFontaine taking on a bigger role, there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon. It's dim, but if you'd asked me yesterday, I would've said I didn't see it at all. 

So there you go Sabres fans. A step in the right direction, sort of.