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.