JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan will oversee the team's rebuilding plans beyond this season after signing a three-year contract extension on Monday.
The team lifted Nolan's "interim" tag from his title by announcing the signing on its Twitter page. The Sabres' post included a picture of Nolan signing his contract alongside owner Terry Pegula and general manager Tim Murray.
A person familiar with the contract revealed the length of the deal to The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres did not disclose the terms.
"I said back in November that it was a dream to be able to come back and coach the Sabres, and that's still true today," Nolan said in the Sabres' release. "Hockey is my life, and Buffalo is a special place for hockey. I'm excited by the challenge facing our team and our organization. And I'm truly thankful to have this opportunity."
The extension does not come as a surprise after Nolan and Murray indicated on several occasions in recent weeks that the two sides were close to completing a deal.
"Teddy has proven time and again that he is an exceptional leader, motivator and teacher," Murray said in a statement released by the team. "He is exactly what we need in a head coach for our hockey team, and we're confident in his ability to guide our players and turn this team around."
Nolan returned for a second stint in Buffalo in mid-November, when he was hired on an interim basis with the opportunity to keep job after the season. He took over for Ron Rolston, who was fired along with GM Darcy Regier, after Buffalo got off to a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start.
Nolan is staying on even though Pat LaFontaine — the person who brought him on board — abruptly stepped down as Sabres president of hockey operations on March 1, after only 3-1/2 months on the job. The two were close, and LaFontaine's departure opened questions as to whether Nolan might follow him out.
The Sabres (20-45-9) remain in last place, where they are likely to finish with only two weeks left in the season. They're 1-10-1 in their past 12 games in preparing to host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
With 142 goals, Buffalo is flirting with setting an NHL single-season low for goals scored since the league expanded from its Original Six teams in 1967-68. The record in a non-lockout-shortened season is 151 goals scored set by the 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning, according to STATS.
The Sabres' woes do not entirely reflect Nolan's coaching ability. He's been saddled with a team that's been beset by injuries and has traded away many of its key players over the past calendar year.
Murray completed a veteran purge in the days leading up to the league's trade deadline on March 5 by dealing away much of what was left of the team's aging core.
Goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott were traded to St. Louis on Feb. 28. Then, in the hours leading up to the deadline, the Sabres made four more trades, including one that sent forward Matt Moulson to Minnesota.
Nolan previously went 73-72-19 in two seasons in his first tenure in Buffalo. He left following 1996-97 season because he was unhappy with the team's one-year contract offer after being selected the NHL's coach of the year.
Nolan then spent two seasons coaching the New York Islanders and led them to the playoffs in 2006-07, before being fired after the following season.
Aside from the Sabres, Nolan enjoyed a successful stint at the Sochi Games, where he coached Latvia to an eighth-place finish — the country's best in five Olympic appearances.