When Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine became the new ringleaders for the Buffalo Sabres, some wondered whether or not that would change the team’s direction with Ryan Miller. Darcy Regier seemed intent on trading the soon-to-be free agent netminder for future assets, but then again the former general manager seemed intent to trade just about any Sabres player for futures.
Nolan spoke to Amy Moritz of The Buffalo News at length about the importance of having a strong netminder when building a championship squad, and the new bench boss had this to say:
You look at all the championship teams and it starts from goaltending out. … I prefer you build around him rather than use him as a pawn to try and get something to make you better. You learn to deal with the now as a coach and we’ve got one of the better goaltenders in the world here and I’d like to build around him myself.
The head coach continued to speak highly of Miller and about how he wanted to change the culture in Buffalo to “create an environment where people want to come here and stay here.” Miller will likely be the first test of this new building philosophy. He’s been in Buffalo since 2002, and has seen just about everything the team has to offer.
Interestingly enough, Nolan’s sentiment seems at odds with how LaFontaine reportedly feels. In the middle of November, the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman spoke about Miller’s future in Buffalo and indicated that the new president of hockey operations would make a deal himself if the right offer came along.
This has been a situation worth keeping an eye on since the beginning of the year, and that isn’t likely to chance until Miller is either traded or re-signed—Neither of which seems imminent.