November 17, 2010

Game One A.G.; Additional Thoughts on Firing

Before I get into discussing new head coach Jack Capuano, there are a couple of additional thoughts I want to put out there that I have on the Scott Gordon firing.

In the end, it was going to happen. Like we both said in our podcast, in professional sports you don't go through prolonged losing streaks, this one the 3rd of it's kind under Gordon, and survive very often. I accept the fact that something had to be done here, and that you just can't change all of the players within a few days.

There were a multitude of bad things under Gordon. For example, the inability to not win a single game on the road in New Jersey, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh since 2008 is just plain awful. There are no excuses for that. At times, fans found themselves questioning the line combinations Gordon would put out and even though they were willing to see how they would work, before you could even finish the thought there were different combinations out there, especially on the penalty kill.

Gordon came under fire a couple of times for not being able to adapt and change his system when a circumstance called for it. Did it cost the Islanders some games? Yes, it did. We all saw the blown 3rd period leads the previous couple of seasons.

Then there were the media related issues. Perhaps digging his own grave, after what would be his final game against the Kings Gordon had no other explanations other than quite simply: "We weren't prepared to play." Not the best thing one could say during a 10 game losing streak. Also, no one can forget his little "bouts" with Rob Carlin or other members of the media in the case of the James Wisniewski incident.

At the same time, there are a number of things that go in Gordon's favor, items that might have been overlooked in this decision. The most obvious has been brought up many times and beaten to death, which is the player personnel. That goes beyond all of the injured players this season, as I and many others have stated multiple times.

One also has to take into account the time lost from hindrances, such as the failed trip to China. Not to mention how late Gordon was hired in the summer of 2008, leaving less time to get to know the players and have them properly train to prepare for the new system. Many players were going down with groin injuries at the beginning of the 2008-09 season.

The only thing I can say for myself is that Gordon was brought on while the Islanders have preached patience to the fan base as we watched young players and a young and upcoming coach grow together. That is how this was supposed to work. Now, it is back to square one when it comes to finding a coach for this still young and inexperienced team. What kind of a coach will it be? We'll save that for another post. I've come up with some names I want to put out for discussion, so that would be a better time to go into that.

At any rate, the news (for the time being) will return back onto the ice tonight as the Isles take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Capuano's debut.

I know many people have questioned Capuano, and how successful he can be. Stranger things have happened, but I'm willing to give him the chance. While interim's usually tend to be assistant coaches, last season the St. Louis Blues named Peoria Rivermen coach Davis Payne their interim, a title that has since been changed and he is now the full-time bench boss there. I know some people question the fact that Capuano played only six NHL games, but Payne only played 22 himself and seems to have done a decent job with the Blues. So there is some recent precedence, and Capuano has had some good moments down in Bridgeport.

However, he has also had some not-so-good ones, such as right now. The Sound Tigers have been mirroring the Isles of late, without a 10 game losing streak. They got off to a 6-9 start, and have shown a great deal of scoring problems. They were able to snap out of that funk when Jon Sim was sent back down, but it hasn't translated into momentum changing wins.

Those of you looking for a change in the system, don't expect anything huge. Make no mistake about it - the systems are the same idea, with maybe some very slight differences. Capuano spoke of simplifying things, and that seems to have gone over well with the guys in practice. If it translates into a win tonight or not is another story. But it should be interesting to watch.

BOTTA ON THE MILK CARTON: Beloved Islanders blogger Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank, and a guest on NYI FYI, announced yesterday at 4 PM that his blog is being shutdown indefinitely "for reasons beyond his control." It has sent some waves through the blogosphere as many people are left confused and wondering what is going on there. He has not made any Tweets since that announcement, either.

At any rate, whatever is going on we certainly hope that things turn out OK for Chris, especially if it's a family situation. Chris is a good one when it comes to Islanders information, and has always been very gracious when we have contacted him. Whatever the problem is right now, good luck as you take care of it Mr. Botta.

More to come later.


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