Ted Nolan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ted Nolan
Ted Nolan at the 2006 NHL awards
Born (1958-04-07) April 7, 1958 (age 65)
Garden River First Nation, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL Draft 78th overall, 1978
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1978–1986

Theodore John Nolan (born April 7, 1958) is an Indigenous Canadian who has made significant contributions to professional hockey both as a player and as a coach. His career highlights include playing as a left winger in the National Hockey League (NHL) and serving as the head coach for teams such as the Buffalo Sabres and the Latvia men's national ice hockey team.

From July 2017 until May 2018 he was head coach of the Poland men's national ice hockey team. He played three seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also coached the New York Islanders, after serving as assistant coach for one season with the Hartford Whalers. On November 13, 2013, the Buffalo Sabres re-hired Nolan as interim head coach; he remained in the position until April 12, 2015.

Playing career[edit]

As a player, he played left-wing for the Ontario Hockey Association's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the Kansas City Red Wings of the Central Hockey League, and the Adirondack Red Wings, Rochester Americans and Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League. He also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League from early to mid-1980s.

Coaching career[edit]

Ontario Hockey League[edit]

Nolan became head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 1988, as a mid-season replacement and coached there until the end of the 1994 season. Nolan led the Greyhounds to the three consecutive Memorial Cup tournament berths, winning the Canadian national junior championship in 1993.

Buffalo Sabres, 1995–1997[edit]

Nolan was hired as an assistant coach by the Hartford Whalers prior to the 1994–95 NHL season. After one season in Hartford, he accepted the position of head coach with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. In his second season in Buffalo, he led the team to the Northeast Division title and was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's top coach.

His relationships with all-star goaltender Dominik Hašek and general manager John Muckler, however, were strained. Hašek, who sided with Muckler, stated in an interview during 1997 NHL Awards Ceremony that "it would be better for me if he (Nolan) did not return." Muckler, who had just been voted the NHL's 1996–97 Executive of the Year, was the first casualty of this toxic situation and was fired prior to the 1997–98 season. New general manager Darcy Regier was given the option of choosing his own coach. Rather than fire Nolan, whose two-year contract had just expired, Regier offered him a one-year extension, reportedly for $500,000. After winning Coach of the Year honors, Nolan found the offer insulting and rejected it. Regier subsequently pulled the contract off the table and hired Lindy Ruff as the Sabres' new head coach.

Post-Sabres career[edit]

Following his departure from Buffalo, Nolan was offered NHL coaching jobs in 1997 by the Tampa Bay Lightning (head coach) and in 1998 by the New York Islanders (assistant coach). Nolan declined both offers. Nolan was not offered an NHL coaching job again until May 2006, a span of eight years, with reports of his role in the firing of Sabres' GM John Muckler being the reason no team would hire him.[1]

On December 16, 2005, Nolan was the victim of racial harassment during a Wildcats road game against the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Fans in the stands shouted racial slurs at him and directed gestures such as the "tomahawk chop" and shooting a bow and arrow towards him as he stood behind the Moncton bench. The incident, he said later, left him shaking with anger and humiliation. The fans' behavior was condemned both by the QMJHL commissioner and Saguenéens management, the latter of which issued a formal apology to Nolan.[2] [3]

Nolan's Wildcats reached the 2006 Memorial Cup final only to lose to the Quebec Remparts.

New York Islanders, 2006–2008[edit]

On June 8, 2006, New York Islanders' owner Charles Wang dismissed interim coach Brad Shaw and announced the hiring of Nolan as the team's new head coach. New York Post hockey columnist Larry Brooks quickly criticized Wang for hiring Nolan at the same time as new general manager Neil Smith, rather than allowing Smith to hire a coach of his own choosing.[4]

In his first season with the Islanders in 2006–07, he led the team to a 92-point season and its first playoff berth since 2003–04. On April 20, 2007, Nolan's Islanders fell in five games to his former team, the top-seeded Buffalo Sabres.

In his second season, Nolan led the Islanders to a record of 35–38–9 for 79 points. On July 14, 2008, he was fired by then-Islanders' general manager Garth Snow.

Rochester Americans, 2009–2011[edit]

On July 2, 2009, Nolan agreed to a one-year contract with the Rochester Americans to become their Vice President of Hockey Operations. He remained with the team through 2011, when the team was sold to Terrence Pegula.

Latvia men's national ice hockey team[edit]

On August 3, 2011, Latvian Ice Hockey Federation announced that Nolan has agreed to become the head coach of Latvia men's national ice hockey team.[5][6] He coached Latvia at the 2012 and 2013 IIHF World Championships, finishing 10th and 11th respectively. In 2013, Latvia qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics with Nolan behind the bench.

At the Sochi Olympic Games, Latvia finished last in its group during the round robin tournament. They then upset favoured Switzerland in the qualification playoffs 3–1. Advancing to the quarterfinals, Latvia lost a hard-fought match to defending Olympic champions Team Canada 2–1. It was Latvia's best-ever Olympic result as they finished eighth overall.[1]

Return to the Buffalo Sabres, 2013–2015[edit]

On November 13, 2013, Nolan returned to the Buffalo Sabres, being named the interim head coach following the firing of both head coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier. Nolan was hired by Pat LaFontaine, who had also joined the team as president of hockey operations before resigning three months later.[1]

Despite a relatively poor on-ice record, Tim Murray, Regier's replacement as general manager, expressed interest in keeping Nolan as permanent head coach. Nolan signed a three-year contract extension on March 31, 2014. However, on April 12, 2015, Murray fired Nolan and his assistants, stating that he and Nolan "didn't have a great relationship" and suggesting that Nolan expected to be consulted on the team's trade deadline moves, saying "But going back to player personnel decisions, going back to him not being consulted on trade deadline, those are things that I think are normal that maybe somebody else doesn't think is normal."[7]

Poland men's national ice hockey team[edit]

Nolan started coaching the Polish national team in 2017. The team played in the 2018 IIHF World Championship Division I A and were relegated to Division I B. He resigned shortly thereafter.


Nolan and his wife Sandra have two sons who played in the NHL, Brandon Nolan, a Vancouver Canucks draft pick who last played for the AHL's Albany River Rats, and Jordan Nolan, who last played for the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Nolan is a member of the Ojibwe tribe, a First Nations people. He was raised with eleven siblings in poverty on the Garden River reserve near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The house had no electricity or running water. At age 14 his father, Stan, died of heart failure, and his mother, Rose, was killed by a drunk driver when he was 24.[8]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Ted Nolan was chosen as a role model in the national native alcohol drug and abuse program in 1986. Nolan was also chosen for the Kiwanis Citizen of the year in 1991, and is an active member of the Aboriginal community.[9]

Coaching statistics[edit]

Note: Head coaching statistics only.


Regular season Post season
Year Team G W L OTL/T Pts Finish G W L Result
1995–96 Buffalo Sabres 82 33 42 7 72 5th Northeast Division Did not qualify
1996–97 Buffalo Sabres 82 40 30 12 92 1st Northeast Division 12 5 7 Lost in conference semi-finals (PHI)
2006–07 New York Islanders 82 40 30 12 92 4th Atlantic Division 5 1 4 Lost in conference quarter-finals (BUF)
2007–08 New York Islanders 81 34 38 9 79 5th Atlantic Division Did not qualify
2013–14 Buffalo Sabres 62 17 36 9 43 8th Atlantic Division Did not qualify
2014–15 Buffalo Sabres 82 23 51 8 54 8th Atlantic Division Did not qualify
NHL Totals 472 188 227 57 433 17 6 11

Junior leagues[edit]

Regular season Post season
Year Team League G W L OTL/T Pts Finish G W L Result
1989–90 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 18 42 6 42 7th Emms Division Did not qualify
1990–91 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 42 21 3 87 1st Emms Division 14 12 2 Won J. Ross Robertson Cup (OSH)
1991–92 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 41 19 6 88 1st Emms Division 19 12 7 Won J. Ross Robertson Cup (NBC)
1992–93 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 38 23 5 81 1st Emms Division 14 9 5 Won the Memorial Cup (PET)
1993–94 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 35 24 7 71 2nd Emms Division 14 10 4 Lost in semi-finals (DET)
2005–06 Moncton Wildcats QMJHL 70 52 15 3 107 1st Eastern Division 21 16 5 Won President's Cup (QUE)

 Denotes championship season

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1975–76 Kenora Thistles MJHL 51 24 32 56 86
1976–77 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OMJHL 60 8 16 24 109
1977–78 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OMJHL 66 14 30 44 106
1978–79 Kansas City Red Wings CHL 73 12 38 50 66 4 1 2 3 0
1979–80 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 75 16 24 40 106 5 0 1 1 0
1980–81 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 76 22 28 50 86 18 6 10 16 11
1981–82 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 39 12 18 30 81
1981–82 Detroit Red Wings NHL 41 4 13 17 45
1982–83 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 78 24 40 64 106 6 2 5 7 14
1983–84 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 31 10 16 26 76 7 2 3 5 18
1983–84 Detroit Red Wings NHL 19 1 2 3 26
1984–85 Rochester Americans AHL 65 28 34 62 152 5 4 0 4 18
1985–86 Baltimore Skipjacks AHL 10 4 4 8 19
1985–86 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 18 1 1 2 34
AHL Totals 374 116 164 280 626 41 14 19 33 61
NHL Totals 78 6 16 22 105


The Ted Nolan Foundation: Established by Nolan in 2004, the foundation is dedicated to supporting the educational and athletic aspirations of female First Nations students through the Rose Nolan Memorial Scholarship. Named in honor of his mother, the scholarship provides $5,000 annually to recipients who demonstrate academic achievement, athletic involvement, and strong community engagement.

3|NOLANS First Nation Hockey School: In 2013, Nolan, alongside his sons, founded the 3|NOLANS First Nation Hockey School. This initiative offers a 5-day hockey skills camp aimed at boys and girls aged 7 to 15. The program focuses on enhancing hockey abilities among First Nation youth and emphasizes the importance of active, healthy living. Beyond sports skills, the camp encourages participants to become positive role models in their communities.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Shoalts, David (3 March 2014). "Shoalts: Nolan's future is uncertain in the wake of LaFontaine's departure". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Ted Nolan given apology for QMJHL incident". cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Saguenéens apologize to Nolan for fans' racism". theglobeandmail.com. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  4. ^ ISLE HANDLE IT Archived 2006-06-15 at the Wayback Machine, New York Post June 11, 2006
  5. ^ "LHF apstiprina Latvijas izlases vecāko treneri". Latvian Ice Hoceky Federation. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-08-03. (in Latvian)
  6. ^ The Canadian Press (3 August 2011). "Former Jack Adams winner Ted Nolan hired to coach Latvian national team". NHL.com. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Sabres fire coach Nolan after 23-win season".
  8. ^ MacGregor, Roy (8 December 2007). "Persevering Ted Nolan is making a difference - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail.
  9. ^ "Ted Nolan". Indspire. 20 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Legends of Hockey – NHL Player Search – Player – Ted Nolan". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. 2001–2008. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  11. ^ "Indspire Laureates". Indspire. Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  12. ^ "Ted Nolan – Three Nolans".

External links[edit]