Ted Nolan was born into a large family on the Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario in 1958. Nolan grew up playing minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, ON and left home at the age of 16 to play junior hockey in Kenora, ON. A year after leaving home to play in Kenora, he returned to play for his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League from 1976 to 1978.
Nolan was 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, he 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, Nolan knew 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. After a couple tough seasons of not making the playoffs, Nolan found his groove and took his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to three straight Memorial Cup appearances, eventually winning the prized possession in 1993.
A year after winning the Memorial Cup, Nolan was hired as an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers in the National Hockey League (NHL). After one season with the Whalers, he would then 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 first in the Northeast Division, Nolan was awarded the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year. Nolan also has international coaching experience, leading the Latvian Men’s National Ice Hockey Team to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Latvian’s would go on to finish 8th in the Men’s Ice Hockey Olympic Games.
Nolan 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.