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.
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.