Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Comeback of the Year

Ted Nolan
Head Coach of the New York Islanders
Nolan, 48, knows about lost and found. Professionally lost for years, he found his way back to the NHL this season after a puzzling exile upon accepting a trophy as coach of the year in 1997. Later he pitched it down his basement steps.

"I haven't opened the box to see if it's broken," he says. "Maybe when I'm old and retired I'll pull it out and dust it off."

Or perhaps he'll win another someday. The Islanders, who have reached the playoffs three times in the last 11 seasons, are among six teams fighting for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference nearing the regular-season end April 8.

When Nolan last coached in the NHL, his Buffalo Sabres won their division for the first time in a generation. Nolan's return to the NHL completes a circle.

"Everything an Indian does is in a circle" according to Black Elk, late holy man of the Oglala Sioux, Nolan says, "and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles and everything tries to be round."

Even, as it happens, a hockey puck.
I've never been much of a Islander fan over the years but this season I'm pulling for them big time because of Ted Nolan. He's a coach I deeply admired years ago during his stint with Buffalo and as many were I was perplexed by his looooooong forced exile from the game. It's great to see him back behind the bench, being successful again. I never had any doubt that he would be, if given the chance. Finally that chance came and if his club makes it to the playoffs in his first year back, a feat many thought impossible for his team at the start of this season, he'll be my choice for Coach of the Year.

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