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11-27-2013, 07:37 AM
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joshjull
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Over the Boards: LaFontaine did research with Neely

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=6...id=DL|NHL|home

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Cam Neely thought Pat LaFontaine was merely picking his brain to see how things were going as one longtime friend and former competitor checking in with another. Little did Neely know LaFontaine was on a clandestine advice-seeking mission each time the two spoke earlier this season.

"Looking back I can say maybe it was research," Neely, the Boston Bruins' president and alternate governor, told NHL.com, "but during the conversations it felt that it was just his interest in what was happening."

LaFontaine and Neely are laughing about those conversations now, two weeks after LaFontaine was named the Buffalo Sabres' president of hockey operations. He was hired on Nov. 13.

"I couldn't quite tell him everything," LaFontaine told NHL.com. "After he found out he sent me a funny email, called me and wished me good luck."


There's a reason why LaFontaine chose Neely as his secret sage.

"I have great respect for him," LaFontaine said. "I'm so happy to see him have success in Boston."

LaFontaine wants to have similar success in Buffalo, but their roles are different. Neely acts as the conduit between the day-to-day hockey and business operations of the club and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs; LaFontaine is tasked only with revamping the hockey side of the Sabres. Ted Black handles Buffalo's business side as the team's president and alternate governor.

However, LaFontaine and Neely have enough in common that the Sabres' new hockey boss thought it wise to collect advice from the Bruins' president.

LaFontaine rolling with the punches

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Two weeks into his tenure and LaFontaine already has the sour taste of losing. The Sabres are 1-4-0 since he and coach Ted Nolan took over for departed GM Darcy Regier and ex-coach Ron Rolston.

LaFontaine is trying to keep perspective as he evaluates his new club.

"I hate to lose like anybody else who is competitive, but I also have to be realistic," he said. "I'm mainly focused on where our energy level is, where our compete level is, who wants to continue to work hard on every shift, who is showing up consistently. Creating the culture is more important. Results will come, but I want to see who really wants to be here under the culture and environment we're going to create."

LaFontaine said he brought in Nolan because he needed "somebody down in the trenches who I can work with to not only watch the players but identify what's going on, on the inside."

He said he needs to have patience, a trait he's been practicing since he hung up his skates.

"One thing I have learned since being retired is you can't dig the puck out of the corner, make a pass and score a goal in 10 seconds anymore," he said. "It doesn't work that way in life. We talk about delayed gratification. In this case I've had to learn to adapt with patience.

"We're seeing what we have. You can't expect things to happen and change in five games. Over a month or two things start to show."

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11-27-2013, 07:54 AM
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Other comments from Patty on his role with the team and the GM search

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"Cam fills his role in the hockey capacity in a very important way, because it's a connection between the owner and president now down to the general manager and the coaching staff," LaFontaine said. "In good organizations there aren't any disconnects. You want to be connected and everybody working at the same page. My responsibility is not only putting the people in place, but making sure everybody is working together, having input, going in the right direction. The responsibility lies on my shoulder to make sure the right people are picked and to make sure things are running the right way, everybody is doing their job."

Neely didn't have to do all that. General manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien were in place when Neely took over as the team's president in 2010 after a three-year run as vice president. Chiarelli and Julien have made his job easier, Neely said.

"When you have good people, you can focus on other areas that you might need to focus on," he added.

LaFontaine is in the process of putting what he hopes are good people into prominent positions. He said he has begun interviewing candidates for the Sabres' general manager opening, and has more scheduled. He doesn't have a timetable for when he wants to have a GM in place.

Neely confirmed the Bruins have granted assistant GM Jim Benning permission to interview with LaFontaine for the Sabres' opening.
Quote:
Other reported candidates include Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill, Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton, and Montreal Canadiens assistant general manager Rick Dudley.

LaFontaine did not reveal who he has interviewed or will interview, but said his list of candidates has expanded from its original form.

"I did start out with kind of a shorter list, but there have been some recommendations from some very respected people in our game that I felt it was important to keep an open mind," LaFontaine said. "Obviously I would like to identify who the next one is, the right fit, and once we make the decision we want that general manager to be here for many, many years, so I'd rather take the time. If somebody comes extremely highly recommended, it's worth the time to meet those candidates."

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11-27-2013, 08:11 AM
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Glad that he was actively seeking out information waiting for things to become official. Most of the former players mentioned in the article are more on the business or advisory side, it seems out of recent player-to-front-office guys, LaFontaine's position is most comparable to Sakic's in Colorado and maybe Yzerman's in Detroit. Technically those two are (were in Y's case) VP's of Hockey Ops, not Presidents, but Sakic at least seems like he's the one with the final word on the hockey side.

Hopefully we draft our MacKinnon and hire our Roy like Sakic was able to.

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11-27-2013, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Paxon View Post
Glad that he was actively seeking out information waiting for things to become official. Most of the former players mentioned in the article are more on the business or advisory side, it seems out of recent player-to-front-office guys, LaFontaine's position is most comparable to Sakic's in Colorado and maybe Yzerman's in Detroit. Technically those two are (were in Y's case) VP's of Hockey Ops, not Presidents, but Sakic at least seems like he's the one with the final word on the hockey side.

Hopefully we draft our MacKinnon and hire our Roy like Sakic was able to.
I would take a Duchene over a MacKinnon any day.

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11-27-2013, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by BadNewsPoe View Post
I would take a Duchene over a MacKinnon any day.
nope

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11-27-2013, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BadNewsPoe View Post
I would take a Duchene over a MacKinnon any day.
Let's get our own version of both. And a Landeskog too.

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11-27-2013, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadNewsPoe View Post
I would take a Duchene over a MacKinnon any day.
I'd say you're splitting hairs there, but I was only referring to acquisitions that happened under Sakic's new VP tenure.

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11-27-2013, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by BadNewsPoe View Post
I would take a Duchene over a MacKinnon any day.
Too Early to say. Mackinnon is in a great place right now where he doesn't have to be THE guy like he was in Halifax so he can develop correctly, but he has the skating and all the tools to be a better player than Duchene.

Duchene RIGHT NOW is the better player.

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11-27-2013, 10:13 AM
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I would love to have both, I feel Duchene is the more natural goal scorer as Mackinnon is the playmaker. I would like an exciting and prolific goal scorer on the Sabres.

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11-27-2013, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Let's get our own version of both. And a Landeskog too.
Landeskog, drool. Good to see that Patty really is taking the time and making sure he gets the best guy possible for the job. It makes me excited going forward knowing the front office is making the full commitment to becoming a winning franchise.

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11-27-2013, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Paxon View Post
Glad that he was actively seeking out information waiting for things to become official. Most of the former players mentioned in the article are more on the business or advisory side, it seems out of recent player-to-front-office guys, LaFontaine's position is most comparable to Sakic's in Colorado and maybe Yzerman's in Detroit. Technically those two are (were in Y's case) VP's of Hockey Ops, not Presidents, but Sakic at least seems like he's the one with the final word on the hockey side.

Hopefully we draft our MacKinnon and hire our Roy like Sakic was able to.
I don't see Dom filling that roll!

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11-27-2013, 01:39 PM
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so does this give Benning an inside edge? I would assume if Neely warned him off, Pat wouldn't have wasted his time.

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I don't see Dom filling that roll!
ultimate troll for patty, Nolan replaced by Dom.

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