Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Good and the Bad - Scott Gordon is in.

Finally a decision has been made. Former Providence Bruin Coach and AHL coach of the year Scott Gordon has been named the 14th head coach of the New York Islanders. Let us dive right in and explore this revelation from all perspectives in - The Good and the Bad.


1) AHL Experience does not equal NHL Experience - There is no doubt that Gordon has had coaching success. The biggest problem is that he has no experience coaching in the NHL. Anyone that thinks that the AHL and the NHL game are one in the same has never tried to make the jump between leagues. It is not the same game as the best players in the world are in the NHL and every team has a very separate identity and style of play. This is just another way for the Islanders to prepare another guy for success by giving him his first NHL job.

2) Gordon better than Maurice, Tortorella and others? - Do this math for me. You have guys that have won cups, built teams from nothing into contenders and champions in the NHL and you pick the minor league guy? It seems that this was not the best coach chosen but the guy Garth Snow liked the best. Again Snow puts his "reputation" on the line.

3) Scott Gordon, Placeholder? - This kind of a move is indicative of a move that says if it works out I will look like a genius. If it doesn't well then its his own fault for not being ready for the challenge. The Islanders are a couple of years away from trying to contend and that seems enough time for Gordon to compile a losing record and an excuse for Garth to show him the door in favor of a more seasoned and successful coach when the younger players begin to mature.

Time to Switch to -


1) Hockey is Hockey - There I said it. Either you are capable of coaching or you are not. Whether its the NHL, the AHL, the QMJHL, the IHL, the KHL, the Swedish Elite League, the OHL, the WHL or whatever league if you can instill your system into a group of players and make them believe in it and play hard for it then you are quite simply a good coach. Gordon has proved that and it is time for him to show the NHL what he can do.

2) He is with the program, not against it - Coming to the Island Gordon knows exactly what he is getting into. He knows the negatives that are inherent with the Islanders. Other coaches who have come from more successful franchises with brand spanking new arenas might be a little disheartened when they come into the Coliseum and see the state of the facilities. With a guy like Gordon he hasn't been spoiled with the luxuries of other NHL franchises. Do not think things like this do not matter because I guarantee you they matter.

3) First time coaches = success - Look at all of the first year coaches in the NHL making big splashes. They bring fresh perspectives and new vigor to the rink. They bring an ambition and a zest for the game that maybe some other more seasoned coaches may take for granted. NHL teams are giving more head coaching jobs to coaches with no NHL experience and it has paid off for most of them in spades.

I welcome all feedback on this and any other subject you wish to discuss here. Please leave any comment you wish and let me know what side of the fence you fall on.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Random Thoughts - We are Down to Three...

Welcome to the recurring "Random Thoughts" column on the voice where we will discuss 5 points surrounding the New York Islanders professional Ice Hockey franchise. Let us dive right in!

1 - The field is shrinking. As was previously reported our beloved GM Garth Snow has the choice of the next coach down to a field of three. The next Islanders coach will be one of three gentlemen, Scott Gordon, Bob Hartley or Paul Maurice. I would be willing to bet that it will be Paul Maurice and here is why short and sweet.

Scott Gordon has had success coaching pro hockey. The only problem with that it his success has been in the AHL. Its a different game people and we need someone that has experience dealing with the overall grind that the NHL season is especially for the young players who will be going through it for the first or second times.

Bob Hartley got fired after 6 games for apparently "losing his team". By all rights Hartley should have been fired the previous season because the Thrashers absolutely shut down at the end of the season and got blown away and embarrased in the playoffs. Im not sure I would trust him with our young players.

Paul Maurice has had a lot of experience at the NHL level and a some of it was bringing teams along from mediocrity into prominence featuring some budding players. No one is trying to compare Maurice to Bill Parcells here but his fingerprints were all over the Canes Stanley Cup victory, AND he got them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Maurice seems to be what Snow is looking for but the problem is does anyone truly know what Snow is looking for? Does anyone truly know what GM savant Garth Snow has up his sleeve? Anyone?

2 - Doug Weight speaks - Doug Weight is anxious to show us all he can still play at a high level. Good. I am glad that Weight feels he has something to prove and I think he can be a great mentor to Josh Bailey. They seem to be very similar type players (save thier 19 year age difference) and Bailey can do a lot worse than to learn from Weight first hand. Hopefully Weight can stay healthy.

3 - Joey McDonald, Backup - DP has been around long enough now to know that he will be injured at some point this season and now Yoda is playing in Russia. Can McDonald handle the job? He was serviceable in the action he saw last year, but we had a backup that had seen real pressure and delivered and he is cashing KHL paychecks now. Its just one more question mark. The good thing is the only way it will matter in the slightest is if two things happen - The team is competitive and Dipietro gets hurt for an extended period.

Now which one of those two is more likely to happen?

4 - Lighthouse project news - Right now no news is good news. Assuming nothing changes the coliseum renovation is still tentatively scheduled to begin following according to Charles Wang - "The Islanders Stanley Cup win this coming June"

I'm not going to touch that one.

5 - Prospects of this coming season - There are apologists around the Islanders as always and this may be the first year I am not one of them. For this team to have any shot at a playoff berth so many things have to break right. Let us open that topic up for discussion. What do you think has to break right for this team to be successful?

Bye for now.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wheres the Coach?

I am not sure what exactly is taking so long for The Islander to name a coach. You would think with pre-season business at a lull the team would want to get their next head coach named so he could have plenty of time to name assistants and put his infrastructure in place. We have some poll results to discuss.

First of all when polled as to what the fans thought of the departure of Ted Nolan the majority (60%) of fans said it was a horrible move and thought it was a horrible mistake to let Nolan go. 35% of the respondents thought it was a great move, souring on the coach after two seasons of marginal success. 5% of the respondents were not sure what to make of the move choosing the wait and see approach. What a shock, Islander fans disagreeing with a major move the team makes.

Out second poll covered who you think the next coach of the Islander should be. Joel Quenneville, who has removed himself from consideration won the vote, netting 30% of the votes. Next in line is John Tortorella who garnished 25% of the vote. Tied for 3rd, or 2nd if you take Quenneville out of the equation were Tom Gordon, Mike Sullivan (20%). Mike Milbury, put in as obviously a joke choice also somehow got 20% of the vote making me wonder if 20% of the people who read my blog are certifiably insane. Bringing up the rear was Paul Maurice with 10%. Out of consideration are Gerard Gallant and Bob Hartley who got ZERO votes. All this vote means is that Gallant or Hartley will probably be the next Islanders coach.

Now the moment you have been waiting for. My opinion of the Ted Nolan fiasco aside, I think Mike Sullivan is the best choice for the job. The Islander need someone who can as a number one priority deal with the young players in the organization and in my humble opinion is the guy for the job. There are bigger names out there like Tortorella and Maurice. Torts has a reputation of being akin to a drill sergeant which may not be the best environment for young players. Paul Maurice has had checkered success in the NHL, and some also question his long term prospects of building a young team.

Snow has said he wants to hire someone who is going to be in this for the long haul. Someone who would make a long term commitment to the team so they could grow with the Islanders as an organization. Snow is certainly taking his time with the choice and lets hope this time he makes the right decision.