Jordan Nolan won Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014 but admitted Thursday he knew his time was up with the organization, as the Kings are retooling after winning just one playoff game the last three seasons.
Nolan said he was disappointed to be put on waivers -- but could not have been happier with the result of the process.
The son of two-time Sabres head coach Ted Nolan was claimed by Buffalo on Wednesday and donned the Blue and Gold for the first time at practice Thursday. He could make his Buffalo debut Friday night in the preseason finale against the New York Islanders in KeyBank Center.
"It's pretty crazy," said Jordan Nolan, who now lives across the border in St. Catharines, Ont. "Obviously a lot of memories here and friends and family in the area. To come back here after so many years and my father has been here a few times, it's pretty interesting. It's funny the way it works out."
The elder Nolan, of course, didn't have his contract renewed by the Sabres in 1997 after being named the Jack Adams Award winner as NHL coach of the year. He returned as coach in 2013 but was fired in 2015, with his second stint ending following a 54-point season that marked the team's tank era.
Ted Nolan is now in Poland serving as that country's national team coach and Jordan Nolan said his father had no issue with his son playing for the Sabres.
"Once he heard the news, he was pretty happy, pretty emotional," Jordan Nolan said. "I think he was just happy to have me closer to home. Buffalo gave him his first opportunity and they brought him back the second time. Buffalo has meant a lot for our family. It's kind of shaped our lives.
"My brother met his wife in this area. I have my friends and family in this area. Buffalo has been nothing but great to our family. I guess the third time is the charm for the Nolan family."
Jordan Nolan, 28, is a 6-foot-3, 219-pound left winger. He suited up Thursday on a line with Jacob Josefson and Johan Larsson. Nolan has 20 goals and 22 assists in 292 NHL games. He had four goals, four assists and 44 penalty minutes last season in 46 games.
— Jordan Nolan (@Jordan_Nolan71) September 27, 2017
Sabres associate head coach Davis Payne came from Los Angeles and was familiar with Nolan, putting in a word for him with both coach Phil Housley and General Manager Jason Botterill.
"He wasn 't a fit in LA. He's certainly a fit here in Buffalo for sure," Housley said of Nolan. "He's just type of player we need in our lineup. He's big and physical but has a scoring touch. Davis echoed those comments."
"It's no secret we certainly wanted to improve our defense by getting Marco Scandella but giving up a big body in Marcus Foligno left a bit of a hole from that standpoint," admitted Botterill, referring to the team's key offseason trade with the Minnesota Wild. "Jordan's size, ability to get in the forecheck and to hold on to pucks down low was attractive to us. LA is notorious for holding on to pucks. It's something that we were lacking and hopefully he can bring that asset to us."
Nolan will wear No. 17 for the Sabres after donning No. 71 in LA. He said he made the change as part of a fresh-start approach. He said it was good to get on the ice Thursday, his first skate in six day. He took part in the Kings' two-game exhibition trip to China against Vancouver, had to travel back to the United States and then wait out the waiver process.
"It was a fun trip, a long and busy trip," he said. "The team had fun with it and I was glad to be a part of it."
With the departure of former captain Brian Gionta, Nolan becomes the only player in the Sabres' dressing room with a Stanley Cup ring. He was one of 16 Kings to win both titles. Only eight remain.
"I play with a lot of heart and a lot of intensity and I don't like losing," he said. "I've been part of a winning team for a number of years. Just kind of want to bring some experience here. I'm not expecting to change the world. I'm expecting to do my little part and chip in."