Some breaking NHL news, just three and a half months after being hired, Pat Lafontaine has resigned as the President of Hockey Operations of the Buffalo Sabres. Lafontaine will return to his former job, working for the NHL head office.
The news comes just one day after the blockbuster deal that saw the Sabres trade away franchise goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues.
The Sabres made the following press release on the situation.
“I would like to thank Pat for all he has done for the organization,” said Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. “Pat joined us at a very difficult time and helped transition the organization down a new path. Tim Murray will continue as General Manager and Craig Patrick will continue as a Senior Hockey Advisor. As has been the case since I bought the team, we’ll continue to do whatever is needed to rebuild the organization and keep it on path towards our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
“Terry Pegula hired me in November and my primary objective was to lead the Sabres organization through a time of transition,” said Pat LaFontaine. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period of time and want to thank Terry and Kim Pegula for the opportunity and their support during my time with the Sabres. I also want to convey my best wishes to all of the players in the Sabres organization and to wish them the best of success in the future. Most importantly, I want to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the great fans of the Sabres for the way I have been treated here as a player and as an executive.”
However, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet is reporting that the situation is ugly and there is more than what is described in the initial release.
Barring any last minute efforts at reconciling, it’s appears LaFontaine days with #Sabres is over. One source described situation as “ugly”
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) March 1, 2014
To further this Elliot Friedman is reporting on Hockey Night in Canada’s Hot Stove that Lafontaine wanted to attempt to re-sign goaltender Ryan Miller and was upset by the trade. He is further upset that Ted Nolan has not gotten a contract extension at this point, and is involved in a power struggle with other members of the Sabres front office.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News is also reporting these reasons.
If there is discord in #Sabres front office, the clear issues would be disagreement over the Miller trade or the status of Nolan.
— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) March 1, 2014
Further reports suggest a power struggle between new general manager Tim Murray and Pat Lafontaine. Here is what Chris Botta of the New York Times and Sports Business Journal is saying.
Sabres Hockey Prez LaFontaine was told he had final say over hockey decisions. Once GM was hired, LaFontaine wasn’t getting final say.
— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) March 2, 2014
The situation brings back memories of Lafontaine’s short stint with the New York Islanders, he left that position in a dispute with other management. He was a hockey consultant for the Isles for just six weeks.
Lafontaine was hired on November 13th, 2013 when the Sabres let go general manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston. He brought in Ted Nolan as head coach on the same day and then conducted a search for a general manager that eventually saw Tim Murray hired.
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