Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray has barely been on the job for 24 hours, but he already has plans in motion for how he will run the team. The first order of business very well may be establishing something more permanent for interim coach Ted Nolan.
Murray told Daren Millard and Doug MacLean on Sportsnet Radio's Hockey Central that Nolan's interim status may soon change:
"No he doesn't have to audition," Murray said of what Nolan has to do going forward. "He's our coach.
"We may talk to him shortly about his future. Right now, I'm happy with Teddy. I'm happy with the effort. We need some better players to carry us through. I talked to [Sabres president of hockey operations] Pat [Lafontaine] twice for 15 minutes yesterday and today. The interim tag is still on, but we probably will do something there for him there that it won't be on for long."
The Sabres have posted an 8-11-4 record under Nolan since he took over the team after head coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier were let go in mid-November.
The team is certainly playing better, but the cast of characters simply isn't up to competitive standards in the league.
"It's hard to win with this team," goaltender Jhonas Enroth explained to reporters after the Sabres lost to the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Thursday night.
Murray knows the pieces in place need to be better and it appears like he's going to give Nolan a chance to guide this roster through the transition period. The road could be very rocky, but Nolan has regained popularity with the fans and has brought some optimism to an organization seemingly in ruin.
If Nolan does have the interim tag removed, he will have completed his comeback run to the NHL after years being unofficially blackballed by many GMs since his dispute with New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow in 2008 that left Nolan out of a job. If the interim tag is removed, Murray will have given Nolan a fresh start, just like he'll need to give the rest of that organization in what will be a difficult new job.