April 13, 2011

Capuano Hits the Lottery, Isles Don't

On a day when Jack Capuano had the interim label removed and was given the reigns for the next few seasons as the man behind the bench, the Islanders weren't as lucky.

Tuesday night the NHL held their annual draft lottery. The Islanders sat with a 10.7% chance of winning the lottery and moving up to the top pick. Unfortunately, it was the New Jersey Devils and their 3.6% odds that would prevail on this night.

It seems fitting for the Devils to get the pick. All they did for much of the last few months is win, and after just falling short of the playoffs they seemed to have just a little bit more luck in them for one more victory.

After hitting the lottery, the Devils will move up to the 4th spot from 8th. The Islanders, who held the 4th spot going in, move down to 5th as do the other teams down the line to Columbus who now takes the 8th spot.

Just before the lottery show started, I made the comment that I had an odd feeling that a team not in 1st was going to win and jump up. It seemed that statistically speaking, it was time. The previous three seasons saw the worst team win the lottery and retain the first pick.

The Islanders will still be able to pick a solid player at 5th, but unfortunately for me that player most likely won't be center Sean Couturier. Unless of course a few NHL teams are buying what the scouting services are selling and he is slipping in their rankings.

More importantly, it emphasizes the Isles need to have a good offseason. As we said on the show this past weekend, this team can ill afford to have another offseason of just drafting high, putting that player in the line-up, signing guys who have toiled in the minors and hoping for extreme maturation (or in some cases exceeding expectations) across the board. Now, it most likely makes it a little bit tougher to justify putting the player we pick in June on the roster in October (forget for a moment the ability to have players come in for nine game "try outs," of course).

INTERIM NO MORE: Regardless of who is on the roster next season, we know that Jack Capuano will be behind the bench coaching them.

The Islanders officially removed the interim tag off of Capuano as they made him the official head coach.

Of course, this was all just a formality by this point. When you look at what Capuano had done with an injury ravaged roster, it is quite a feat.

Neither Sean nor myself were happy with the decision to fire Scott Gordon back in November. Sean wasn't a big Gordon supporter from the get go, but given what the team was we both felt it was a bit unnecessary.

I can't speak for him, but I can speak for myself and say I have been pretty impressed with Capuano. I didn't think he would come anywhere close to doing what he was able to do, but I was flat out wrong. This was the right decision for the team to make, especially since they still qualify as up-and-coming. Could they have gone out and looked at the Todd Richards' or Corey Clouston's of the world? Sure, but at this point if something works, don't mess with it. The best coach in the world isn't going to make this current team as constructed into a contender over night.

It's nice to have this situation settled barely into the off-season too. I remember how frustrated I was back in July 2008 when the Islanders fired Ted Nolan, which was a long time after teams normally would make coaching changes. There were still plenty of candidates to choose from, but it seemed odd to wait that long to fire a coach.

At any rate, good job by the Isles and congrats to Capuano. This is well deserved.



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