Nolan was fresh off winning the Jack Adams award for the league's top Coach in 1996-97 when John Muckler was fired and replaced with Darcy Regier. Regier offered Nolan an extremely low, one year contract which Nolan turned down as any Coach of the Year honoree would do. Regier never offered another contract essentially forcing Nolan out of town and bringing in Lindy Ruff to replace him. It was a critical mistake, as even though the Sabres found their way to the NHL Finals by 1998-99 under Lindy Ruff, it was largely the team that Nolan had helped mold into the "hardest working team in hockey". Their leader was not there to finish the job.
Now, 16 years later and ironically enough, Nolan returns at the same time Regier is being shown the door. Listening to Nolan's press conference, he is incredibly easy to cheer for. He choked back tears when spoke of how much his family supported him. He talked about making the current roster into a team that would all work together towards a single goal. He talked about hard work. That's what Buffalo wants. Even more so, that's what Buffalo needs. The wins may not come right away. There will be ups and downs and struggles. But there is one very important thing that Ted Nolan brings back to the Buffalo Sabres organization: ACCOUNTABILITY. He sounds energized and ready for this new chapter. He is happy to be here and Buffalo couldn't be happier to have him back.