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Ted Nolan, Craig Berube to make history with coaching matchup

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Craig Berube and Ted Nolan will be on opposing benches Thursday night. (USATSI)
Craig Berube and Ted Nolan will be on opposing benches Thursday night. (USATSI)

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When the Buffalo Sabres meet the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, it will not only be a matchup of two coaches who took over teams mid-season in the first month and a half but it will also mark an NHL coaching first.

Both Flyers coach Craig Berube and Sabres bench boss Ted Nolan are First Nations men, or of Native descent in American terms. Never before in league history have two First Nations coaches opposed each other in an NHL game. Thursday night's game will change that.

Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News has more:

They are First Nations men, to be precise; that is the correct nomenclature in Canada. Sabres coach Ted Nolan is an Ojibwe from Ontario. Flyers coach Craig Berube is part Cree, and from Alberta.

"It's huge," Nolan said upon his arrival in Philadelphia yesterday. "The significance of it is not really what it means to me, or Craig Berube, but what it means when you think of what our ancestors went through."

"I guess you'd think about it. You'd think there'd be some other Native coach that would've come out by now and been a coach," Berube said. "It's pretty cool."

Indeed, it is pretty cool, and a monumental achievement. Peter Dinsdale, chief executive officer of the Assembly of First Nations called the coaches trailblazers.

The NHL has had a fair amount of First Nations players through the years with Fred Sasakamoose becoming the first to play in the NHL 60 years ago and there are a handful of players in the league today with First Nations heritage. Carey Price paid homage to his on a mask last season and of course Ted's son Jordan Nolan plays for the Kings..

It's terrific to see the diversity hitting the coaching ranks too.

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