By the Masked Man
» More Columns
When you can’t win you fire the coach.
I’d have to think Scott Gordon knew this was coming with the team’s lack of success. The firing of Gordon exposed a couple of things well out of Gordon’s control.
The first is that GM Garth Snow is an average GM who outside of a slam dunk in John Tavares as the #1 pick and a good free agent signings in Matt Moulson and Mark Streit hasn’t done much to help his coach.
That might be unfair because in reality who do the Islanders have in trade bait to fill the holes in their roster? Secondly, you can’t knock him completely on the free agent thing because what free agent is coming to this team, especially one with a family? I’ll tell you who — Matt Moulson. Moulson was a good player at Cornell on some good teams up there and had a really good season last year. Give credit to head coaches Mike Shafer of Cornell and Mark Morris at AHL Manchester for his development as they did a great job with him.
Scouts who saw him as an NCAA player worried about his skating as a detriment to NHL success despite an NHL shot and above average hands and hockey sense. When L.A. started to improve, Moulson found he wasn’t needed by the big team and signed with the Islanders. Moulson was a top six forward his whole life and he doesn’t project to a 3rd or 4th line guy so if you were signing him you needed him in that role and that made him perfect on LI. However you have to ask yourself, is he a top six guy on a playoff team from last season and you might be inclined to say probably not. Not a knock on Moulson, just reality. He was available to the league, he signed with the NYI.
That exposes the Islanders biggest issue and that is they can’t get players because they play in a building that should be replaced with a better one and need a much more modern practice facility than the one at Iceworks (now I haven’t been there in a while but the dressing room that serves the team at the practice facility used to be a storage room and the coaches offices were part of the zamboni storage area. I know that because I was a hockey school instructor there when it was the Long Island Skating Academy and was on the original staff in the summer of 1991).
Legit top six fds are going elsewhere. Elite top 2-3 defensemen are going elsewhere. Top notch free agent goalies are going elsewhere because they don’t wat to look like Glenn Resch or Billy Smith in the early days of Islanderdom where they were facing 40 shots a night playing behind an expansion team.
Everyone, agents, players, the Islanders know Charles Wang is leaving if he doesn’t get what he wants so why would anyone outside of a young player hoping to get a shot, or a young coach looking to prove himself (Gordon or new coach Jack Capuano). What is equally disturbing is the AHL team in Bridgeport where outside of Travis Homenic and Rhett Rakhshani there isn’t much going on.
It is a shame that the franchise is in the state of continuing decline. It is more of a shame that no one seems to have an answer on how to fix that. The Isles are a glorified AHL team in many areas of the roster and the Hershey Bears or Toronto Marlies would probably give them fits.
Do you knock Charles Wang or Nassau County on that one? Wang has provided options, the county has said no. Wang sees the writing on the wall and that is he will have to move the team. Maybe it is only to Queens, maybe it is to Winnipeg, maybe to Quebec City. Wang needs a whole new set up that will remind fans that it is 2010. The Nassau Coliseum, while housing many historic memories of Islander history reminds people of 1980. It is old, it is outdated, and it would make a great convention center.
Back to the team. The old expression is you can’t make chicken soup out of chicken s&^t. Let’s be honest, the Islanders are dreadful. Losing Streit and Kyle Okposo doesn’t help and the contracts that Wang signed Alexi Yashin and Rick DiPietro to are the standard bearers for how not to run a franchise. There is talent there but outside of Doug Weight (who is limited at this point in his terrific career) the Isles are a rudderless ship. Gordon’s assistants will stay with the new coach, the assistants Gordon hired personally.
Gordon was left with the assistant coaches of the regime he took over for and they finished dead last so you could make a case the entire staff should have gone and the AHL staff that new coach Jack Capuano had in Bridgeport should have come up with him and Dean Chynoweth should be running Bridgeport. You could make a case Gordon should run Bridgeport but that would be insulting to him to ask. He has an outstanding player development record in the ECHL and AHL.
It is a mess, it isn’t getting better. There is no system of accountability there, no structure in place for it to get better and nothing to look at as promise for the future.