Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Random Thoughts - The Next Coach of the Islanders

After my failed attempt at humor in my last column we will turn back the business at hand and that is who will coach the Islanders. Snow has interviewed or will interview at least 6 possible candidates "competing" for the "privilege" of coaching the New York Islanders. The list has some big names on it -

Bob Hartley - He lost his players last season and that is never a good sign. You could make the argument that eventually a coach ALWAYS wears out his welcome over time with players but Atlanta was a team on the rise that took a nose dive.

John Tortorella - Has a hard edge to him that could be a problem with dealing with young players. He would have to realize that the same demeanor he had in Tampa could damage young players.

Joel Quenneville - He would be a good choice, but when was the last time the team did the over obvious right thing?

Mike Sullivan - Also a very good candidate that would seem to fit the kind of guy Snow would want. Has 2 years of NHL coaching experience and my money is on him.

Scott Gordon - This guy is not exciting anyone. Sorry Scott is your among the MILLIONS of readers of The Voice.

Gerard Gallant - He knows the players but he worked with Nolan and when the head is cut off the body usually goes with it.

Paul Maurice - I would love to see this guy behind the bench. I would also like to have seen Filatov on the podium on draft day. The team never does anything that falls along the lines of normal.

Mike Sullivan, Joel Quenneville or Paul Maurice are in my mind the best choices for the job.
Let me know who you think is the best choice for the job but keep in mind the following -

This next coach is going to have a dramatic effect on a great many things. One of them are the many number of prospects the Islanders have. Sooner or later this coach is going to decide when and how much these kids will join the Islanders and once they are here will shape them as players. That added to the very young players that are already here and this next coach will have massive input into how these players develop. He will have the responsibility of dealing with Rick DiPietro, a strong minded sometimes reckless All Star goaltender who would throw himself in front of a train to stop a puck. Make no mistake about it this may be the most important hiring this franchise has seen in the last 30 years.

Dealing with the players themselves is like the care of a fledgling apple tree. You provide the right nurturing to that tree and it will develop into a strong fruit bearing tree for years. You provide the wrong care for it and it will stunt growth, the fruit will sour and die off and one day you will wake up and wonder what happened to that apple tree you planted. Lets all hope we do not see Garth Snow and Charles Wang standing over the spot when their apple tree used to be wondering what they could have done differently.

This coaching hire could be the difference between a strong fruit bearing tree or a spot of dry soil and the same sour fruit we have been eating for years.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Islanders Tapping new resource for possible players?

It was a banner weekend for me this past weekend getting to go to the Billy Joel concert on Friday and the Great American Bash WWE Event on Sunday. I was not alone at the WWE Event as many of you may know Rick Dipietro was at the event schmoozing with a lot of the WWE Stars. This next story is a work. Whats not known is that GM Garth Snow was looking for new faces for the Islanders organization. The results of his meeting will astound you.

Pictured at right is the newest member of the New York Islanders, Former World Heavyweight Champion John Cena!! From West Newbury, Massachusetts, Cena brings an arrogance and aggressiveness as well as that "do anything to win" mentality that is so lacking up and down the Islanders lineup. It was not immediately know what position Cena will play but in a interview he said this " I am coming to the NHL to do what it is that I do, and that's dominate like only John Cena can." While this may be the first time in a long time an athlete in the NHL referred to himself in the third person, the shot of attitude may be just what the Islanders need headed into this coming season. When approached by GM Garth Snow about his contract demands Cena responded the only way he knows how and that is with a finely tuned chair shot right to the GM's head. When Chris Dey explained to Cena that that type of behaviour is not acceptable in the NHL Cena responded with one of his trademark "FU" wrestling maneuvers driving the unfortunate soul into the concrete back first. When told of the actions of his new superstar player, owner Charles Wang simply smirked and said "The guy's got spirit, and hes a true friend."

Hey at least it would not be boring.


Monday, July 14, 2008

The Good and the Bad - Ted Nolan is Out

Garth Snow and Ted Nolan got together and managed to agree on one thing this off season. The problem is that the one thing they agree on is that Nolan should not coach the Islanders any more. It seems amicable and this blogger wishes the coach the best and I hope to see him do the same thing so many former Islander players and coaches have done after leaving the team. Win. Here are 3 points for and against Nolan leaving the Islanders.


1 - Nolan brought the respectability, and he was the only one - Make no mistake Ted Nolan brought an air of respectability to the New York Islanders franchise. A team that has an owner who a lot of people think is in this for the real estate, a GM who almost no one takes seriously, an arena that most college franchises would laugh at, a player roster that impresses no one, a legacy for the last 25 years of bad moves, embarrassing fiascoes and failure after failure on the ice. People will argue that Charles Wang is a rock as the Islanders owner but he is not in this for hockey, he is in it for the Lighthouse Project.

2 - More on Snow's head - As if the draft wasn't enough to let us know who is running the Islanders. Garth Snow all but pushed Nolan out the door at the very least saving Nolan the indignity of being fired after a season who's result was the fault of one thing. That one thing is injuries. Now from top to bottom the teams fate will fall in the lap of its 2nd year GM. I hope he can handle the pressure of not only this year's draft but all but showing the popular coach the door. One more question to consider is who in his right mind would want to coach this team? I hope Snow doesn't hear laughter on the phone if he is smart enough to call John Tortorella.

3 - Bad, Meet Worse - Nolan was commended for getting the Islanders to the playoffs in his first year on the team, then Smyth runs to Colorado and the roster is remade. Amazingly enough the Islander are still competitive. Not only competitive but a mere 3 points behind the Devils for FIRST PLACE in their division. This was roughly 50 games into the season. Ask anyone and they will tell you the Ted Nolan was the reason for the success doing what he does best and that is squeezing every bit of talent out of the players he was given. Eventually the bottom fell out as the team lost over 400 man games to injury last season. It would seem the coach is not at fault but he is left paying the price.


1 - Unhappy coach? No Thank You.- Ted Nolan was not happy and did not want to do 2 things. One was enter the final year of his contract without an extension, and he wanted a steady veteran presence on his team. Unfortunately both of those were going to happen no matter what. Instead of staying and trying to earn more time with the team Nolan chose to push the issue and the result is him leaving the team. The players on this team do not need an unhappy coach, they need a coach who is on board 100% with the plan.

2 - Coach the Kids, Not Bury Them. - Its also no secret that some of the Islanders most promising prospects did not flourish under Nolan, always favoring the veteran over the kid. Jeff Tambelini in one that springs to mind. Everyone wanted the kid to get top 6 minutes. That is everyone except Ted Nolan. You will come to realize that Nolan had every intention of playing the veteran over the kid possibly at the expense of letting said kid get the time he needs to flourish in this league. The new coach will certainly be on board on this policy and hopefully the kids will get the chance they never got under Nolan unless injuries required it.

3 - Everyone on the same page. Make no mistake people. The Islanders are in a rebuild mode. Ted Nolan is a great coach and no one can deny this. That being said he just wasn't right for this team. The Islanders need a coach who will grow with the team and the young players it is committed to for the long haul. 2 years ago Nolan was the perfect guy for the job but our outlook has changed over the last 2 years. Instead of piece mealing a team together the Islanders are trying to grow one and Nolan clearly did not want to be a part of it.

Let me know what you think on this subject as I am sure it will generate a lot of discussion.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

More Random thoughts regarding free agency.

1 - Islanders are done. - Don't look for any more free agents to be signed by the Islanders. They locked up Streit to a 5 year deal and veteran Doug Weight to a 1 year deal. I applaud both moves as they make total sense if you really think about it. The team is going no where and they are years away from even thinking about competing for a cup. This season will be a transition year or a rebuilding year and if you are going to rebuild then you cannot hand out the absolutely silly contracts that have been flying around. If Doug Weight can regain just a small portion of himself after all he is 37, not 47 then we may have a decent 1-2 center position for the 1st time in a long time. The experts will still pick this team to finish dead last in the conference and they would be justified in doing so but they are going the only route they can to establish themselves in this league and that is with a total rebuild.

2 - Silliness is abound. - Let's be honest. Some of the contracts that have been thrown around are just plain silly. I wont go into which ones because we all know what they are. I am glad the Islanders aren't a part of it. In the words of Forest Gump, "Dats all I got to say about thaait".

3 - Jagr goes to Russia - Jagr has signed a letter of intent to go play in Russia and all I have heard from Ranger fans is a remarkable amount of indifference. Come again? If you think "Soft as Carvel" Markus Naslund or Nikolai Zherdev have a ghost of a chance of replacing Jaromir Jagr then I have got some news for you. Its not gonna happen. Jagr does not get replaced that easily. He led the team in scoring last season. Heck he led the Rangers in scoring every year he was on the team. Jagr is a dynamic player and this is one Islander fan that is thrilled he is off the Rangers, but I am upset a talent like Jagr is going to finish his career outside the NHL.

4 - Avery brings show to Dallas - Wow, a lot of Ranger talk on the Voice today. The Rangers have also let their new lord and saviour walk to the big D. You can admit it Islander fans, your glad hes gone, I'm glad he is gone, Martin Broduer is glad he is gone and the entire Eastern Conference is glad he is gone to go play his 8 year old antics in front of Roberto Luongo and Chris Osgood.

More later -


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quick Thoughts on Free Agency so far...

Just some quick thoughts -

1 - Streit to set the power play straight? Who would have predicted this... the Islanders net themselves arguable the second best defenseman on the free agent market. He can be a liability defensively, but if that is the case we have plenty of defensive defenseman to cover for him.

2 - Avery seeing Stars - So much for the Rangers new messiah. I'm glad hes gone, and all of those Avery jerseys, t shirts are all going to become shoe polish rags now.

3 - Jagr gone? Who are they going to get? I am sure you know who I mean by THEY.. The Rangers are probably scrambling over Hossa shockingly signing with the Red Wings (and for only ONE season?) After paying the highly vanilla and over rated Wade Redden 6.5 million for 6 years if theywant to retain JJ he is going to make them pay, and pay hard too!! I love it when the Rangers spend their money on Canada's over bloated "superstars" - If Redden played his career in the US, he would be considered in the "middle of the road" defense class.

4 - Islanders gaining Weight? Word has it that Guerin is trying to give a big off season assist to the Islanders signing his pal Doug Weight. I think it would be a great move to bridge the gap to when Bailey and Trivino are ready to take over. Weight can dish, we really need someone who can do just that.

More Later -