Dave Chambers paid the price for the Quebec Nordiques' continuing struggles yesterday when he was fired as coach and replaced by general manager Pierre Page, the man who had hired him.
Page met with Chambers for 90 minutes before yesterday's practice, then announced that he will take over behind the bench of one of the NHL's weakest teams.
The Nordiques have finished last in the overall standings in each of the past three seasons. They're off to a 3-14-1 start, have lost 10 of their past 12 games and are tied with the expansion San Jose Sharks for the fewest points in the NHL.
"He spilled his guts out in this job," Page said of Chambers, a close friend who was his assistant coach with Minnesota. "I don't blame him, it's the whole organization that's to blame."
Page is credited with laying a solid foundation in Minnesota, where he coached the North Stars from 1988-90 before coming to Quebec.
Of his decision to remove Chambers, Page said: "We decided, after talking for an hour and a half, that it was best to give the team new direction. Dave admits that he's tried everything he can."
Page retained assistant coaches Jacques Martin and Don Jackson and said that his decision to coach was made to remove some of the pressure from them.
* SABRES: Pat LaFontaine, a high-scoring center acquired this season in a trade with the New York Islanders, suffered a broken jaw Saturday night and will be out indefinitely.
LaFontaine was hurt when the Calgary Flames' Jamie Macoun stick's caught him in the mouth. Macoun received a five-minute major that led to Donald Audette's game-winning goal with 59 seconds remaining.
Buffalo coach Rick Dudley called on the league to suspend Macoun, saying: "It was a cheap shot and it's disturbing. The only satisfaction at all you can draw from it is the fact that it cost them the game."