As I first wrote about on November 8th, with the Islanders situation spiraling out of control, GM Garth Snow removed Head Coach Scott Gordon and replaced him with Bridgeport Coach Jack Capuano this morning. It was by no means a surprise as the Islanders are in the midst of a 10 game winless streak and have shown little signs of breaking out of their slump. Close games or not, the team isn’t scoring, and the few chances they are giving up are turning into goals plain and simple. This is not a goaltending issue, or a defensive issue, or just an offensive issue. This is an entire team issue and it needs to be resolved fast. Not for the sake of the playoffs (if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn i’d like to sell you), it’s for these young kids we’ve given the keys to the franchise to and are completely overwhelmed. John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Frans Neilsen, Matt Martin, Michael Grabner and Rob Schremp to name a few are all struggling with the weight of the franchise on their backs. They’ve been given a cast of little known veterans and guys who haven’t played much the past few years to carry a team, who hasn’t won a playoff series in in their lifetime, back to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and do it while missing their top defenseman and best all around forward. In plain English, this team is completely lost. The offense is sputtering, the once reconfigured defense is now hurting and on their 9th man of depth, their franchsie goaltender played poorly in 2 games, (the worst 2 games the team as a whole played) and Gordon decided to roll Roloson for 5 consecutive starts since he’s been playing well. Now DiPietro hasn’t played in over 2 weeks, so who knows where his game is now. It’s going to be a busy week for Jack Capuano.
The change behind the bench was not only necessary, but probably overdue. Scott Gordon is not a bad coach, and isn’t a bad person either, he has been dealt a team of players who are not playing well together and he was out of ideas of how to coax wins out of them any longer. Maybe a new voice and a “simplifying of some things”, as Doug Weight put it, will be enough to get the Isles back on the road to mediocrity. What gets them on the road to success is another matter entirely.
I’m tired of hearing fans who killed Mike Milbury for dealing away Roberto Luongo, Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, Olli Jokinen…etc are now are killing Snow for his rebuilding stage. The fact he keeps his roster spots open for younger players and “Bargain Finds”, is the way the Islanders are choosing to go nowadays. Charles Wang has lost nearly $200 million dollars since he’s bought the franchise. He has been trying to build his team a new home since the second he signed ownership papers only to be used and abused by the people we elect and call Nassau County politicians. Here’s a secret for you, no matter who owns the Islanders, they will lose money…that owner may put money into the team for a season or 2….but once the losses start piling up, they are going to do exactly what Charles is doing, only while they’re doing it, they’ll be checking out Quebec, Hamilton and Las Vegas instead of Uniondale and Flushing. Charles isn’t perfect, but you can’t blame him for wanting to cut down on his losses until he has a clearer picture as to where the Islanders will be playing after the 2015 season. What you would like to see, is when the arena issue is finally settled, you’d like to see Charles immediately charge forward with a big trade, free agent signing, or something to show the fans that he was just waiting for his certainty.
Now, you ask how the Islanders can get better?
The first step took place today, placing a new voice behind the bench. As of tomorrow morning, Garth Snow should be formulating a list of new head coaches and start interviewing immediately. The Islanders might be a mess now, but there are coaches out there who would love this job. The Islanders have a wealth of young talent, and once the arena situation comes to a decision (which will eventually happen), the owner has the funds and has shown a willingness to spend on the team. I personally would love to see the team bring up a few kids from the Bridge to shake things up, maybe make a trade to bring in some veteran scoring help in the meantime though i’m not holding my breath on either of these requests.
Finally, I spoke with a friend of mine on twitter today, @greenlanternjet. His real name is Jeff Capellini and he is a die hard Islanders and Jets fan. I told him this afternoon that I was writing a “scathing” blog about the state of the team, the only thing is, the more I look at the situation, the more I understand it. I don’t like it, and I feel my elected leaders are more to blame than Scott Gordon is for the state of my beloved franchise, but I understand it. I get the whole rebuild since it’s the right thing to do, I get the whole try not to commit too much money until you’re sure where you’ll be playing and bringing in the cash in a few years, and I understand that $200 million dollars is a lot to shell out without a light at the end of the tunnel. So Jeff, as much as this blog might be lacking a “scathing” tone, I think you’ll understand it.
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile