03 Nov Ted Nolan
Ted Nolan was born into a large family on the Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario in 1958. The 3rd youngest of twelve children, in a house lacking electricity and plumbing, Ted learned resilience from his parents Stan and Rose. From his mother, he received pride in his heritage and that helped him become the strong man that he is today. He also learned to follow his dreams, no matter how big or small. Today, Ted believes that pride, strength, and a willingness to dream are the cornerstones of success.
Ted grew up playing minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, ON and left home at the age of 16 to go play junior hockey in Kenora, ON. A year after leaving home to play in Kenora, Ted returned to play for his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League from 1976 to 1978. Ted played the game with so much passion, skill, and a ton of grit, and it was a combination of these attributes that helped him get drafted into the NHL in 1978 by the Detroit Red Wings. After a brief stint in the Red Wings organization, which saw him raise the Calder Cup Championship with their minor league affiliate, Ted was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins appearing in 78 NHL games before having his career cut short by a serious back injury at the age of 26.
After being forced to retire in 1986, Ted knew that he wanted to stay involved in hockey, and it was his first coaching job in 1989 with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL that helped launch his coaching career and taught him what it takes to build a champion. After a couple tough seasons of not making the playoffs, Ted found his groove and took his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to 3 straight Memorial Cup appearances, eventually winning the prized possession in 1993. A year after winning the Memorial Cup, often said to be the “toughest championship to win”, Ted was hired as an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers in the National Hockey League (NHL). After one season with the Whalers, Ted would then go onto to coach the Buffalo Sabres (1995-1997 and 2013-2015) and the NY Islanders (2006-2008). During the Buffalo Sabres season in 1996-1997, which saw them capture 1st in the Northeast Division, Ted was awarded the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year.
Ted also has international coaching experience, leading the Latvian Men’s National Ice Hockey Team to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Latvian’s, led by Ted, almost shocked the hockey world and nearly broke the hearts of every hockey fan in Canada when they took the Canadian team down to the final couple minutes of play in the quarterfinal game. The Latvian’s would go onto finish 8th in the Men’s Ice Hockey Olympic Games, but the team and coach Nolan would go onto endear themselves to every hockey fan in the small country of Latvia.
Ted always says, “hockey is what I do, it is not who I am”. Ted is so grateful for the opportunities hockey has created in his life, and most importantly, the opportunity it has created to become a positive role model for First Nations people all across Canada