By Luis Vazquez

The language coming from the New York Islanders GM Garth Snow and his recently fired head coach Jack Capuano were too cordial to be believed. If you read it at face value one had to wonder why a change was made at all.


Former NY Islanders Coach Jack Capuano. Photo credit: Brandon Titus/Islanders Today

Former NY Islanders Coach Jack Capuano. Photo credit: Brandon Titus/Islanders Today

Capuano was the second winningest coach in Islander history (227) behind only the legendary Al Albour. He also was the fourth longest  coach in NHL history.

So what changed?

Well one has to look at the front office to be fair. GM Garth Snow played the off-season like the former goalie he was, a reactor. His answer to the Islanders second straight 100 point season and first playoff series win in 23 years was to gut the veteran attacking core by allowing Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielson to walk leaving your sole star John Tavares to carry the load.

He also waived a very effective goalie in Jaroslav Halak sending him to the down to the minor leagues. The results? A serious regression of numbers for the captain and a team .500 record and last place in the Metropolitan Division.

“It’s was a tough day because you feel that burden of him being the guy to take the fall,” Tavares said, “The way we played, the way I played, it wasn’t good enough.”

Where would Al Arbour be if after his first playoff forays that ended short of the cup the then GM Bill Torrey allowed Brian Trottier, John Tonelli, and Bobby Nystrom to walk leaving Mike Bossy to fend for himself? The results would be similar. One step forward and three steps back.

That is why it was a miracle considering how the Islanders started the season how they got to even at all. That is a testament to the work ethic Capuano defined his team by. His infamous sratched nose last year or his shiner before that were symbols of his grit and says more.

Maybe Snow sees the writing on the wall and made the change now to exonerate himself with his team still only eight points from playoff position.

“I don’t know that Jack fell short of expectations,” Snow said, “I think when you are a coach in this league sometimes you’re a victim of different circumstances.”

 New ownership could be what Snow is referring to. As he is unable to make changes at this point of the season and with the knowledge that owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin are looking to shake up the organizational roster, a coaching change is his only real option.

Snow is banking that lightning strikes twice with his choice of interim coach with Doug Weight as it was for Capuano back in 2011. “Obviously with the career he’s had in the game of hockey at all different levels, behind the bench as assistant coach and the work he’s done with me in the front office, he’s well-respected by everyone in that room,” Snow pointed out.

The most important opinion in that room and the one that must be sold is John Tavares, who is in the last year of his contract. Losing him at this juncture would signal another rebuilding phase to put themselves back in position to contend for the cup.

Fortunately for the Islanders, Tavares reiterated his commitment to the franchise. That might be the only thing that keeps Snow from becoming an organizational casualty.

Comment: Facebook.com/luis.armando.50


Print Friendly, PDF & Email