When the Kings passed through Buffalo a season ago, the Sabres were in the process of cutting ties with coach Ron Rolston and hiring Ted Nolan, Jordan Nolan’s father. There was actually quite a bit of activity on the ground floor of the First Niagara Center last November 13, with Darryl Sutter answering questions about Jonathan Quick (who had suffered a groin injury the night before), and the Sabres preparing for a major news conference some 100 feet away. It was among the busier non game-days of the 2013-14 season.
Los Angeles and Buffalo will meet for the first time since last November 12, which means that tomorrow’s game will be the first time that Jordan Nolan will play against a team coached by his father. Ted Nolan had coached a St. Catherine’s-based bantam team that Jordan played for prior to his OHL career, though the two have never been separated by a plexiglass barrier.
“He coached my Bantam team my [OHL] draft year,” Jordan Nolan said. “I think he ran the defense, actually. He didn’t want to coach me on the forward. And we also had summer hockey teams every year.”
Ted Nolan, the 1997 Jack Adams Award winner, previously coached the Sabres from 1995-97 and the New York Islanders from 2006-08. Through his first 68 games with Buffalo, Nolan is 18-41-9 as he continues to guide a young team looking to find footing in a concerted, heavy rebuild. The elder Nolan also coached Latvia to an impressive eighth place finish at the 2014 Olympics after a memorable run through qualifying.
“I’m sure it will be neat to see him out there on the opposite side of the bench,” Jordan Nolan said. “But we’ve definitely never had this opportunity. He’s coached me a few times. And obviously it’s his dream to coach in the NHL and my dream to play in the NHL. So for us to be in the same game together is pretty special.”
The Sabres have been in town for two days – they’ll face the Ducks in Anaheim tonight – and the two were able to squeeze a dinner and some family time in prior to Buffalo’s quick three-games-in-four-nights jaunt through California. When the Kings return to Buffalo in December, Jordan Nolan said that there will be a bus full of family and supporters making the drive from nearby St. Catharine’s to take in the game.
Players often refer to playing former teammates or returning to cities in which they used to play as part of the business. With his own father coaching the opposing team tomorrow night, will the Kings’ first game since Sunday be “business as usual?”
“It’s just another game,” Jordan Nolan said. “It’s just a little more of a special feeling out there I would think. I’m not looking to be saying hello to him in the game or anything like that. But I’m sure we’ll talk before the game and after the game and I’m sure I’ll give him a little look during the game. So it’s going to be fun I think and I have family that will be watching.”