The hiring of Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine did what it was supposed to do for me. It was a warm, comfortable feeling to know those two guys were down at the arena, and a part of my city’s hockey team again.
For me, it’s even beyond hockey. It brings me back to the most fun, care-free days of my professional life. From 1993-2003, my primary job was producing sports talk shows on the radio and sportscasts on TV.
In that position, you got to know that some guys who appeared to be good guys weren’t always when the cameras stopped rolling. Not the case with these two.
Having been in the dressing room at the Aud and Marine Midland Arena, I was lucky enough to know first hand that Pat LaFontaine was a gentleman and always willing to talk with reporters, even after a loss, and even as the old Sabres organization took a year to essentially dump him. 15 years later, we know that the best thing that he could have done after so many concussions was retire, but it was less clear then, and the team’s motives were less than clear. But Pat was a gentleman through it all.
Ted Nolan became an instant celebrity when he came to Buffalo in 1995 because he was cut from the same cloth that we were. A humble, hard-working guy, who liked to see humility and hard work from his players. I think he accepted that celebrity in the same we we hope we would, with class, a realization that he’s no better than anyone else, and just being a good guy. I produced Ted’s hour long weekly radio show on WBEN in those days, and he was the sort of guy that would always pop his head into the control room to say hello to us behind the scenes folks. It’s not that he said hi to me– its emblematic of the way he treated people.
So those are the good memories. But within minutes of hearing the news, I also saw a rehashing of stupidity from decades ago.
Today, we have internet trolls: people with information that either A.) their small brains somehow find credible or B.) information they know is false, but they share in an effort to be funny or malicious. That information is then shared as “truth” by “A.) people.”
Back in the old days, before you could just “broadcast” any piece of stupidity on the internet, people would call radio stations and TV newsrooms with these “hot tips.” I would say almost all of these callers fell into that A.) category. Many felt that they heard something important, and that they were doing their civic duty to make sure all of Buffalo and America knows this bit of information they learned from a guy whose cousin bowls with a lawyer whose brother is a cop who heard it happened.
These rumors almost always had to do with local politicians and athletes and– as someone who constantly fielded these calls– you kinda got the impression that you were involved in a massive game of “telephone.” There were a few recurring general themes for many of the “tips,” but the details were slightly different.
A few examples: I have received “proof” from callers that nearly every politician is gay and got married just to hide this fact. The call will often go on to say that those same closeted gay politicians are about to be arrested for cavorting with under age boys. I could write down at least a dozen names off the top of my head right now that I have received that anonymous call about. I’ve never heard of any such investigation from a credible law enforcement source about anyone in elective office locally, let alone dozens of them.
We’d get many calls about Jim Kelly when he was taking the Bills to Superbowls, but my favorite– and it was frequent for a few years– was something along the lines of the caller knew a guy who knew Kelly’s optometrist. Jim Kelly wasn’t connecting on passes because he couldn’t see, but was too vain to get glasses. I laughed when I got the same call about Todd Collins.
Of course, the rumor that kicked off this thought train involves Ted Nolan. I hate to put it in print, but I will only to show how stupid it is. The story is now so well versed, that when you type Ted Nolan into Google, it’s one of the options that come up.
Somehow, it’s believed by many that Ted Nolan had sex with Dominik Hasek’s wife. Can I prove that didn’t happen? No, but if you watched the rumor evolve like I did, you wouldn’t believe it either.
This particular rumor started with phone calls alleging, very specifically, that “Ted Nolan was caught having sex with Hasek’s wife in the showers at the arena, and that’s why Ted and Dom don’t get along.”
It becomes even less credible when you know that this was the last in a long line of these variety of calls. There’d been others about Nolan and other players’ wives along the lines of, “This guy was cut because Ted got caught having sex with the guy’s wife in the dressing room shower.”
There were also a few that involved Ted getting caught getting it on with players in the locker room showers. “John Muckler cut this guy was cut because he was caught having sex with the coach in the dressing room showers.”
Wait, you say! If all this Ted and shower talk is going on, there must be some truth to it, right?
Absolutely not. The “Sabres having sex in the dressing room showers” nonsense pre-dates Nolan. The first time I got a call about two Sabres caught having sex in the shower, probably in 1993, I thought I had the scoop of the century. I was quickly slapped down when I told my fellow reporters, who repeated the same rumor back to me with a long line of different Sabres through history dating back to the 1970’s.
The Nolan one stuck, because I think he just might be the biggest, most widely-loved Sabres celebrity of all-time. Not just by hockey fans, but by everyone. He was a good coach, a good guy, a rough-and-tumble guy, and good looking to boot– Everyone loved him. Except Dominik Hasek. Everybody knows both of those names, so its easy to repeat, and we all love to kill our heroes for some reason. So here it is, 15 years later, and still going, because you’d have to have a pretty big reason to hate Ted Nolan, right?
The one good thing, I guess, is that Nolan/Hasek’s wife stupidity became so rampant that it seems to have ended the Sabres dressing room shower sex rumors forever.
Mostly in jest, I think, it was repeated, or at least eluded to, a whole bunch on the internet yesterday. and probably will forever. But it’s stupid, and it’s made up, so let’s let it die, OK?
This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com