2) To review for those who may either be new to the NHL, or not recall the soap opera that surrounded Ted:
- Nolan took a team in decline and (admittedly with the help of Superstar goalie Dominick Hasek) turned the team around. Winning 'Coach of the Year' in 1997
- No one knows the true story, but Nolan and his GM John Muckler never got along. There were rumors that Nolan went to the owners and Muckler was fired because of this. Many point to that as the reason Nolan was shunned afterwards " GM killer" was the oft used phrase. He has strenuously has always denied this. No one has yet to come forward who would confirm the story either. What is certain John Muckler had/has been around the NHL for a long time and has many friends, so even the hint of that hurt Nolan's chances of finding work after Buffalo
- Then there were the other whispered, racist inspired innuendos-? of 'coming to practice drunk, and chasing/sleeping with players' wives. None of which could be confirmed or even corroborated with any source that even we at FAUXRUMORS could find! (We tried to find some!) The team didn't out right fire him, but even after winning the Adams award, they made Nolan a one year contract offer which was blatantly disrespectful for the job he had just performed. Instead of quickly latching on with another team when an opening occurred Ted found himself without so much as a job offer for several seasons.
- Spurred from the NHL Ted stopped looking for work with in the league opting instead to return to his roots to help native children, through work with the Assembly of First Nations and through hockey. He set up an Indigenous hockey program and took his players to an international tournament. He also started the Ted Nolan Foundation to help raise money for native youth and native women.
- It wasn't until 5 years had passed did the NY Islanders offer Ted an asst coaches offer which Ted declined, to concentrate on aforementioned native projects. However, Nolan still had hockey in his blood so when he was offered an opportunity to coach in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats Ted took the job, and excelled just like he seems to always do. Taking his team to the finals.
- In the spring of 2006 Ted got a call from Isle's maverick owner Charles Wang. Wang had shown in the past with his 10, 15 year contracts and other 'unique' moves that he didn't go along with the usual NHL flow, and apparently Ted had been on Wang's radar for quite awhile, but now the time seemed right for the two to agree on a head coaching comeback.
3) The Isles team he inherited was hardly Cup material. Certainly NOT on paper. Still with the team was 'salary cap albatross', and apparent locker room cancer, Alexei Yashin. Hardly a 'Nolan type' player, but for some reason he was still team captain. The team had just fired its new GM Neil Smith after 30 days, in a bizazzaro-world series of summer time moves that culminated with an unheard of 15 year contract for goalie Rick Dipetro. Almost all prognosticators (admittedly even us at FAUXRUMORS) figured the Isles would finish at or near the bottom, fighting with Washington for 15th
4) So what happened? Ted took what he had and shaped that team into his own. Getting the very most out of every player, and having the Isles seemingly way overachieve toward an unexpected playoff berth garnering a very respectable 92 points, good for the 8th slot. Though they bowed out in the first round, it wasn't an easy 5 game series win for the Sabres.
5) What followed is what makes us believe there are STILL hard feelings/elements that are blackballing Nolan even after a decade.
- Nolan would seem to be a shoe-in to be the winner if not at least to be among the 3 finalist for the award he won in his last NHL season, the Jack Adams award as 'Coach of the Year'. Yet amazingly he was omitted. While it could be argued that either Therrien or Alain Vigneault were there by virtue of their superstar players (Luongo and Crosby), and Lindy Ruff had a star packed club, Nolan had no such list of players.
- In fact we were floored that Lindy Ruff (coincidentally Nolan's successor in Buffalo) was even included. After all he had a returning team that was considered one of the best. They didn't over achieve or vastly improve their point totals. His inclusion, in our opinion, was a clear anti-Nolan statement.
- This season Nolan takes an apparently even more undermanned Islander team into action. Having lost scoring from Jason Blake, Ryan Smyth, Yashin(though that loss is a likely gain!) Victor Kozlov, etc. With early snubs this summer from many of the UFA's it looked like no one wanted to go to the Isles. The ones who did come seemed to be mercenaries; there for the pay cheque/no one else wanted them. Hardly a team to build around/compete for a playoff spot. Will Nolan and the Isles succeed again? Well its way too early, but thus far the Isles are right in the mix.
- Add to all this that the classy manner in which Ted Nolan himself urged and arranged to have one of his idols, Al Arbour return behind the bench last week. Usually Arbour has shunned public attention since his retirement nearly 12 years ago. However, at Nolan's urging he returned for one additional game to get to a milestone 1500 games coached. What sounded like a gimmick to even some hard core Isle's fans turned into one of the more classier done tributes to the Hall of fame coach. While he was instrumental in getting this to fruition, Nolan stayed in the background as much as possible and allowed Arbour to enjoy the fitting lauds he received.
- After all this, with an apparent, easy to write/cash in on feel good story(s) you'd think the NHL would be quick to try to use/promote what Nolan has done/embodies? What we have heard thus far from the league? Virtual silence. Not blackballed, huh? Yeah right!
6) The only questions that remain are the reasons. Are they buried in racism? After all, though there have been quite a few Native American(First Nation) players in the NHL, Nolan was the first(and only) one to become a head coach. Was it the manner in which John Muckler was fired and the possible influence Nolan had on this? To this day is still a very touchy subject, no one is talking. As many sources as we have, we at FAUXRUMORS can not get into any one's head/heart to find out. However, regardless of the reason(s) there is little doubt that Nolan was singled out and it appears continues to be by the league. Though we at FAUXRUMORS are NOT Islander fans, because of what he has endured and the manner in which he has carried himself, we ARE Nolan fans and wish him the best/success!