Sabres Begin GM Hunt, With Canadiens' Rick Dudley Considered A "Natural Fit"
The Sabres are "in the market" for a new GM after firing Darcy Regier on Wednesday, and "most of the discussion has centered" on Canadiens Assistant GM Rick Dudley, according to Craig Custance of ESPN.com. He would be a "natural fit" as he coached the Sabres in '91-92 and played for them from '72-75. Dudley would give new President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine "exactly the experience he is looking for when it comes to the GM position." What might "make this job appealing to Dudley, besides being in Buffalo, is that LaFontaine's presence means he could keep a low profile, which he prefers." If they "opt not to hire Dudley, the Sabres can go out and hire one of the smartest, CBA-memorizing, contract-negotiating and player-evaluating assistant GMs in the league." Custance notes candidates fitting that description include Maple Leafs VP & Assistant GM Claude Loiselle, Penguins Assistant GM Jason Botterill, Canucks VP/Hockey Operations & Assistant GM Laurence Gilman, Coyotes VP/Hockey Operations & Assistant GM Brad Treliving and Predators Assistant GM Paul Fenton (ESPN.com, 11/14).
THE LONG GOODBYE: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington notes Sabres President Ted Black on Thursday revealed on WGR-AM that Nolan and LaFontaine "were at his home watching Tuesday’s shootout win" over the Kings on TV. They were "later joined by owner Terry Pegula, and Pegula and Black then headed downtown after the game to dismiss Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/15). NESN's Billy Jaffe said of Regier not being let go sooner, "It seemed like Darcy Regier got in with the new owner, with Terry Pegula. He was smart, he saved his job. In fact he got an extension, so he got a few years parachute for him as well there. Listen, that's part of the business, sometimes it's figuring out how to stay involved with the owner." Jaffe added he hoped the Sabres "get better soon." Jaffe: "They are an important team for this league. It's a small market, but it's a big hockey market and they have a great fan base" ("The Instigators," NESN, 11/14).
GOOD VIBRATIONS: ESPN.com's Greg Sukiennik wrote LaFontaine is "regarded as the long-term cure" for the Sabres. He remains "wildly popular in Buffalo," and is one of the "greatest U.S.-born players in the game's history." That reputation "alone with open the doors to front office candidates and free agents who would have never previously considered America's North Coast" (ESPN.com, 11/14). In Buffalo, Donn Esmonde writes Pegula on Wednesday "put people in high places who will ... allow this area to start feeling good again about its hockey team." What matters to most people is "having a team that we can be proud of" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/15).