Niagara Gazette

Sports

March 3, 2014

Sabres stunned by LaFontaine's resignation

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Black failed to divulge any further details regarding the resignation except to reiterate LaFontaine wanted to resume his previous role working with the National Hockey League.

Black called the resignation a disappointment, but denied speculation that there had been any discord between LaFontaine and front-office staff or owner Terry Pegula.

LaFontaine has not returned messages, and on Sunday, his cell-phone mailbox was full.

What’s clear is that his departure marks the latest setback for a franchise that has had difficulty establishing a winning course in the three years since Pegula bought the team and vowed to build an immediate contender. The Sabres are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a third straight season, and in the midst of a rebuilding plan that began with the purge of numerous high-priced veterans last year.

Black said the objective has not changed, and the team’s transformation will continue under general manager Tim Murray.

“Pat was here for three months. It is one person,” Black said. “I don’t know if that impacts the greater mission or will deter us.”

Murray was hired by LaFontaine in January and now assumes much of his former boss’s responsibilities.

It was Murray who negotiated the Miller trade. He is also fielding offers to make further deals before the league’s trade deadline on Wednesday.

Next on Murray’s priority list is negotiating a contract extension with interim coach Ted Nolan, who was brought in by LaFontaine for a second stint in Buffalo.

“We want Teddy to be our coach going forward,” Murray said. “If he wants to be here, I want him to be our coach.”

The question is whether Nolan wants to stay, something he left open following practice Sunday.

“Right now, it’s not about my contract. It’s about the situation that’s happening,” Nolan said. “It’s about what’s transpired in this organization, what happened to a very dear friend. And we’ll leave it at that.”

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