BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan will oversee the team's rebuilding plans beyond this season after signing a contract extension on Monday.
The team lifted Nolan's "interim" tag from his title by announcing the signing on its Twitter page. The Sabres' post included a picture of Nolan signing his contract alongside owner Terry Pegula and general manager Tim Murray.
The extension does not come as a surprise after both Nolan Murray indicated on several occasions in recent weeks that the two sides were close to completing a deal.
Nolan returned for a second stint in Buffalo in mid-November, when he was hired on an interim basis with the opportunity to keep job after the season. He took over for Ron Rolston who was fired along with GM Darcy Regier, after Buffalo got off to a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start.
Nolan is staying on even though Pat LaFontaine — the person who brought him on board — abruptly stepped down as Sabres president of hockey operations on March 1, after only 3-1/2 months on the job. The two were close, and LaFontaine's departure opened questions as to whether Nolan might follow him out.
Murray maintained his support for Nolan as someone capable of providing direction to a team that's essentially rebuilding from scratch.
The Sabres (20-45-9) remain in last place, where they are likely to finish with only two weeks left in the season. They're 1-10-1 in their past 12 games in preparing to host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
With 142 goals, Buffalo is flirting with setting an NHL single-season low for goals scored since the league expanded from its Original Six teams in 1967-68. The record in a non-lockout-shortened season is 151 goals scored set by the 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning, according to STATS.
The Sabres' woes do not entirely reflect Nolan's coaching ability. He's been saddled with a team that's been beset by injuries and has traded away many of its key players over the past calendar year.
Murray completed a veteran purge in the days leading up to the league's trade deadline on March 5 by dealing away much of what was left of the team's aging core.
Goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott were traded to St. Louis on Feb. 28. Then, in the hours leading up to the deadline, the Sabres made four more trades, including one that sent forward Matt Moulson to Minnesota.
Nolan previously went 73-72-19 in two seasons in his first tenure in Buffalo. He left following 1996-97 season because he was unhappy with the team's one-year contract offer after being selected the NHL's coach of the year.
Nolan then spent two seasons coaching the New York Islanders and led them to the playoffs in 2006-07, before being fired after the following season.
His coaching career has enjoyed a resurgence over the past year. Aside from the Sabres, Nolan enjoyed a successful stint at the Sochi Games, where he coached Latvia to an eighth-place finish — the country's best in five Olympic appearances.