Backchecking: What To Expect: Part 1 — Coaching

I have been quiet.

I have been waiting.

I have been patient.

But the dysfunction of the franchise has once again caught up with me, and I am going to take a guess that I am not alone in my dread. What began 2 months ago as hope that this season would afford the Islanders and its fans meaningful games in March and maybe April have evaporated like the morning dew on a Spring day. The brightness of the prodigal “son” proved once and for all that this Islander team — yet again — is not capable of competing. The no-show against the Florida Panthers on opening night was not a forewarning enough. Perhaps the goose egg laid against the Winnipeg Jets should have shown me. Maybe the 2 ass whippings at the hands of the defending champs. But last night sealed it for me. I gave them about a quarter of the season, and realize — it’s more or less done for 2011-12.

A season that had promise based in large part on what transpired during the final 4 months of last season.  Where did it go wrong?

Is it the coach and his staff that are not getting enough out of a talented group of players?

Is it a nasty funk the players are in, and no coach is going to change it?

Is it the arena?

Was it the lack of moves over the summer?

There are a number of “reasons” and we can all speculate, but until we are actually in the room, speculation, supposition, and the word of those in the room are all we can go with.

Though my disappointment is clear, and I am hoping that some moves are made, the rebuild can’t be called a “failure” as some fans are suggesting.

Last night, after the game, and in reading some tweets, going back and forth with some fans and followers, there are a number of things that I think we need to be realistic about, and it is not going to make any of us happy.

A Coaching Change

I suppose its possible if the team loses really big like the last 2 nights , but I don’t think it will happen — not a year after they brought Capuano in, and not right after giving him a new deal. This is the guy they wanted — the management, the players. There was no doubt. No ambiguity. There was no search done by Garth Snow and Charles Wang. They zeroed in on Jack before the end of the season if you recall, and made it official soon after the end of last season. They would need to be blown out the next few games in a row before Cappy is let go.

There is a possibility. The way this team is right now, I can see it happening, which would give Snow the mandate to make a change — considering the real culprits can’t be all fired, including the owner.

The Isles have Philadelphia and then a home-and-home with the Devils — I could see the Islanders losing all three by 5-6 goal deficits, and being shut-out in the process. We always do poorly against the Flyers, and Zack Parise reminds us all of the fact he should be an Islander had any one of us been the GM that year. He is guaranteed at least 2 goals in each game (or so it seems)

I like Capuano. I think he is a good guy.

Not to be cold — but good guys don’t cut it in this business. The players need someone who knows how to balance ass kicking and nurturing. There any number of buttons that need to be pushed, and they all need to be pushed on a little bit, all at the same time. It is a delicate balancing act, and one I am not sure Cappy is up to managing. I was hoping that having Doug Weight on the bench may help as a liaison between coaching staff and team, or the addition of some vets who had been through the wars — but they have all given up on each other.

The Choices

Left to right, Bob Hartley, won the Cup in 2000-01 with Colorado, Michel Therrien, Cup finalist with Pittsburgh 2007-08, Marc Crawford, won the Cup 1995-96 with Colorado

The Islanders would do well to go outside the organization, but they likely won’t. Hartley, Therrien or Crawford  would all offer a completely new direction, new voice and new systems — all desperately needed. This is still Scott Gordon’s system with tweaks. But my guess is if Snow pulls the trigger — it will be one of Dean or Doug to finish out the year.

Should they do it?

I think they should. I think at this point, somehow, the players need a completely new direction. We said this just a year ago, and it messes up the stability that Snow has been trying to bring in after a decade of disaster under Mike Milbury. But he made a poor choice in both Gordon and Capuano. And what good is stability if they are stable losers?

A young team needs some experience, and someone who commands a certain level of respect. If I walk into the room and say to any of these players that they need to play with more fire and passion it does not have as much weight as a guy like Marc Crawford or Bob Hartley who have their names on the Stanley Cup. I would have added Ken Hitchcock to this list, though some feel he is too cerebral.

What to expect

Depends on what happens. If they are crushed in the next 3 games — and I mean crushed — expect a change. If they compete but lose the rest of the year, Cappy finishes the season.

If they do let Cappy go — expect Doug or Dean. That is what this organization does. They don’t bring in the “real” people. So far, the only time that has worked for the Islanders is Laviolette — and as soon as he showed he was “real” he was fired.

Who would your choice be? Any of the three above or would you recommend someone else?

Ill have more on the players, the GM and the owner down the road — (been crazy busy)

Happy Thanksgiving — and I am truly sorry to all the Islander fans, my son included who I apologize to regularly for making him an Islander fan. (How sad is that…)


UPDATE: 12:15pm — Source is confirming Garth SNow has the authority to do what ever is needed to save the Isles season. This came from Chris Botta and Eric Hornick via Twitter. Is that a first “rumbling” something could happen to shake up the team?


UPDATE: 1:49PM — Arthur Staple Tweets — Garth Snow confirms to Newsday he has no intention of firing Jack Capuano (Can’t say I am surprised)

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About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: Twitter:

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  1. anthony c says:

    garth has “authority” when wang says so. Snow is a puppet, and that’s all. As far as coaches. Either one of hartley, therrien or crawford would be ideal.

  2. Isles Fanatic says:

    I do not pretend to know what the problem is, but I will say that change is needed, either behind or on the bench…Tie to shake this team up…

  3. Et le but!! says:

    I don’t know why I bother commenting – I happen to look for morbid curiousity at this site.

    You guys make it so complicated, when the Islanders’ ills are actually rooted in one thing.

    Charles Wang is the worst owner in professional sports, bar none.

    Wang is a total clown, as a hockey owner. There aren’t many more ways over the years I can think of saying it.

    You may confuse yourself into thinking that there must be a more complex explanation, but the dysfunction of this organization changes, when Wang sells – it’s that simple. That’s not a popular opinion on sites, such as this one, because it highlights the futility of still being an Islander fan and frames clearly what a waste of time it truly is (they ARE moving to Quebec, btw). But, no offense, if you haven’t figured the aforementioned out on your own, then…. I really don’t know what to tell ya.

    But, for yet another time, I will amplify the obvious:

    One, the Islanders owner has totally divested/disinvested (whichever you prefer) himself of this team, year in and year out spending just enough to still own the franchise under the collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, veterans that are signed by this owner are guys that the other 29 clubs (yes, even Columbus for chrissakes) know are on the scrap heap. The homegrown guys have no real support.

    This dovetails into a bigger and more global problem with the organization:

    Wang is likely divesting because he knows he will sell, and likely he will sell to a management team of men from Quebec, when the time is right.

    Even if the players all have I.Q.‘s of 38, this is something that must be felt, even if it is still an unknown. And even if the players are all idiots, they all have agents, whom are not.

    *****In other words, the Islander players probably all know they are dead men walking.*****

    It’s a sad, sad, borderline tragic *#$%@& situation, really.

  4. Drillsetc says:

    I really thought this was the year that it would happen for the Islanders. On paper, they have some good players. Maybe it is time to blow it up, but then again they still have the owner!