Islanders Blog: Jack Capuano – The Wrong Choice

By Nick Colombo
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The Islanders had a chance to take a big step forward next year…  and they just blew it by bringing back Jack Capuano as head coach.

It’s nothing against Jack, he’s not a bad coach, but someone has to explain to the Islanders that simply not being bad doesn’t necessarily make you good.

Capuano experienced success this season as head coach for one reason: He wasn’t Scott Gordon. All Jack had to do was walk in, let the guys play hockey, not institute any stupid system, and keep the team happy. So again, not be Scott Gordon.

But not being Scott Gordon (a.k.a. not being a bad coach) doesn’t automatically make you a good coach. For example, I’d consider myself not bad at doing my taxes. Does that then mean I should be handling all the corporate taxes here at CBS? The answer is no, and that’s because I’m not very good at doing taxes. Which is exactly why when things get complicated I call my boy “Gio the Italian Tax Machine” to hide some money for me.

What the Islanders have just done by hiring Capuano permanently is a damn shame. Don’t they understand? This team is in the uniquely fortunate position of being ready to take the next step. They’re right on the cusp of becoming a highly competitive team that makes the playoffs. The one component they were missing was a really, really good head coach to take their young guys to the next level. Instead, they hired Capuano when they needed “Gio the Italian Tax Machine.”

All the time I hear Garth Snow says he’s got money to spend on the team but they can’t convince free agents to come here. What better way to spend that money than by hiring a top line head coach to get the most out of the guys you do have here? No, apparently that’s too much to ask.

Instead, the Islanders, as always, will take the cheap way out, and that’s unfortunate. Because now more than ever it’s abundantly clear the difference coaching can make in the NHL.

We’re only a year removed from Peter Laviolette taking the Flyers from a struggling team to the Eastern Conference champs, and we’ve just been through a season where the great Jacques Lemaire resurrected the all-but-dead Devils into a playoff contender.

Hiring a great coach would’ve given the Islanders a legitimate chance to be in the playoff conversation next year. Instead, they’ll be rolling the dice with Jack Capuano, a coach who is a nice enough guy, but is much nicer to them because he fits in the budget.

Questions or comments? Email me at ncolombo@wfan.com

Do you agree with Colombo? Let him know in the comments below…

Comments

One Comment

  1. Dominick Mezzapesa says:

    From the writer that gave you “The islanders should throw in the towel to secure the #1 pick” comes another moronic article.

    I swear you must know someone because there is no way you should be anywhere near a computer.

    I am sure if you covered the Yankees you would be writing “Why would the Yankees hire a loser like Joe Torre?”

    You said “great Jacques Lemaire resurrected the all-but-dead Devils into a playoff contender.”

    Really Lemaire is great, but Capuano is not worthy enough? So Capuano took over a team that was dead in the water, a team that YOU CLAIMED should mail it in when Capuano had them starting to win, but now is not good enough, but Lemaire is somehow great?

    From what I seen the Islanders after an historic non winning streak were just as much in the playoff run as the Devils were the last few weeks of the season.

    I find it odd that you did not mention who this god send of a coach was? It’s so easy to say “We need a top of the line great coach” and of course not even mention who you would have chosen.

    All I see is Capuano did a good enough job to warrant his return to the Islanders after he went 26-29-10, including a 25-21-8 mark over the final 54 games

    Since the Islanders according to you are ready to take the next step, I think WFAN should understand that with the Islanders success it will bring more readers to the islanders blog, and the should seriously consider hiring a new Islanders blogger, maybe someone who actually knows what they are writing about.

  2. gary says:

    this guy should have his keyboard taken away. this is credible? has CBS and WFAN’s hockey coverage fallen this low – i could get a middle school student to write a better article!

  3. Kevin Daly says:

    While Capuano may not be a household name keep this in mind.
    When an NHL team is bad it constantly grabs players from it’s AHL affiliate.
    The Hershey Bears have been AHL champs the past 2 seasons.
    The NHL Club they are affiliated with? The Washington Capitals a team with a pretty good regular season record.
    Capuano managed to keep the SoundTigers over 500 and in the play-offs while constantly have his best players shipped off to the big club. Helluva coaching job.

  4. Dan says:

    I don’t know what this article is talking about. Jack has proven after he steped in that he can get this team to win. He earned a chance to coach this team next year and get them winning. This was a good move, not a bad move.

  5. Nick,

    It’s clearly not always neccesary to go out and make a big coaching splash. It’s been proven now in Pittsburgh with Dan Balisma (former AHL coach – now a Cup Winner) and in Washington with Bruce Boudreau (Former AHL coach – still hungry for a Cup).

    Coaches have to start somewhere – every single NHL coach had no experience in the big leagues at one point or another.

    Sure, Capuano made some missteps along the way – but he addressed issues and went with the flow, unlike Gordon who wouldn’t change anything when his system was clearly flawed.

    Oh and to address your man crush on Lavy – were did he start as coach? Oh that’s right – the AHL.

    He was once also an obscure choice (Isles got blasted then too), who blossomed into who he is today.

    Sorry, I’d rather have a coach grow and learn with his team any day – instead of constant turnover.

    Capuano is the right choice.

    1. Nick D. says:

      “Oh and to address your man crush on Lavy – were did he start as coach? Oh that’s right – the AHL.”

      So was Steve Sterling, Brad Shaw, and Gordon. So right there you are down to only a 25% chance he’ll be a good one.

  6. Robert Trost says:

    That is a funny article!Does CBS have stock in the Rangers!

  7. MCK says:

    Nick who? What a lame article! Capuano coached some of these kids in the minors and maybe that familiarity helped bring them together as a team! He gave them some freedom to play their kind of hockey and that helped immensely! Why change things now? If the injuries are a thing of the past then this team is headed in the right direction! Who says that Capuano won’t be a coach that will be in hot demand in the NHL 2 years from now! Everyone has to get their start somewhere!
    Why does very reporter…if that’s what you call yourself…think it’s always the big name that a team needs? I say…good move Islanders!

  8. Jerry K says:

    100% THIS GUY NICK IS CLUELESS HE NEEDS ANOTHER PROFESSION HE DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ISLES OR HOCKEY AND SHOULD JUST QUIT WHILE HES AHEAD…HE WROTE 2 MONTHS AGO COACHING IS EVERYTHING AND THE REASON THE ISLES HAD A TURN AROUND SEASON NOW HE SAYS THE COACH WHO TURNED THE TEAM AROUND IS NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE LOL WHAT A DUMASS THIS GUY IS WHERE DID HE GET HIS JOB OR DEGREE FROM A CRACKER JACK BOX…NEVER HERD OF HIM EITHER SURE NO ONE HAS BUT THATS WHY HE IS NOT A WRITER WHO WILL EVER BE KNOWN OR MAKE IT IN NY LOL GO WRITE ABOUT THE RANGERS AND HOW THEY BACKED INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITH THE HIGHEST PAYROLL IN THE NHL BUT JOHN TORTARELLA IS THE RIGHT COACH?!! LOLLL

  9. Petey Peter says:

    This article only confirms that going to CBS NY for expert hockey opinion is like going to a diner for 5-star seafood.

  10. @mygameworn says:

    Terrible article. You would think the writer would be somewhat informative. How do you have a job, seriously? You never once put anything relative into your article. No quotes from players, no stats, no quotes from NHL analysts or anything.

    Like others have said, do some frigging research. The Islanders have 600+ man games lost due to injury. They’ve played with 6 goalies, 10+ defensemen and a ton of AHL call ups. Capuano still managed to lead them to a 25-21*8 record.

    Seems you have a man crush on Lavy, which is ok, but he’s LONG gone and it’s time to move on.

    1. Jerry K says:

      100% THIS GUY NICK IS CLUELESS HE NEEDS ANOTHER PROFESSION HE DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ISLES OR HOCKEY AND SHOULD JUST QUIT WHILE HES AHEAD…HE WROTE 2 MONTHS AGO COACHING IS EVERYTHING AND THE REASON THE ISLES HAD A TURN AROUND SEASON NOW HE SAYS THE COACH WHO TURNED THE TEAM AROUND IS NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE LOL WHAT A DUMASS THIS GUY IS WHERE DID HE GET HIS JOB OR DEGREE FROM A CRACKER JACK BOX…NEVER HERD OF HIM EITHER SURE NO ONE HAS BUT THATS WHY HE IS NOT A WRITER WHO WILL EVER BE KNOWN OR MAKE IT IN NY LOL GO RIGHT ABOUT THE RANGERS AND HOW THEY BACKED INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITH THE HIGHEST PAYROLL IN THE NHL BUT JOHN TORTARELLA IS THE RIGHT COACH?!! LOLLL

  11. WhereHeAt17 says:

    Who the hell is Nick Columbo? The guy who wrote this 2 months ago:

    “If this NHL season has taught us anything it’s this — coaching is everything. There’s one big reason why the Islanders no longer look atrocious, and that reason is Jack Capuano’s coaching.”

    What a joke this dope is.

    1. Nick Colombo says:

      I also wrote in that article, and several others, that I still didn’t think he should be head coach

    2. JERRY K says:

      LOL 100% AGREED NO ONE KNOWS WHO HE IS BCUZ HE DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOCKEY OR THE ISLES!!!

  12. JPinVA says:

    This has got to be the laziest [I’m not even sure what to call it without using profanity] High School English composition(?) I’ve ever read… in a professional (CBS) setting.
    Do you even know who Jack Capuano is? Did you do any research at all. Can you even identify “any stupid system”… I highly doubt you’ve ever paid attention to a hockey game long enough to understand ICING.
    CBS and WFAN should be ashamed… like I am because I wasted five minutes to respond to this garbage.
    I’m pretty sure Gio doesn’t have to work too hard on your taxes. If this is any evidence of what you’re being compensated for I’m pretty sure his job is to make sure your food stamps don’t get cut off.

    1. Nick Colombo says:

      Scott Gordon said on my occasions that he ran a high pressure forecheck system. That’s the system I was referring to. Clearly, someone doesn’t know their Islanders hockey.

  13. Ant says:

    I agree with Franco, cap is where lavy was a few years ago… You sir are an idiot… I really wish the fan would hire someone who knows something about the islanders

    1. Nick Colombo says:

      I don’t think the comparison between Laviolette and Capuano is fair. Laviolette was considered an up and coming head coaching candidate when the Islanders hired him. He had great success in the AHL (winning coach of the year) and professional experience working with the Bruins. I know Jack has been an assistant and a head coach in the AHL, but he has not achieved the success or shown any special quality to be considered an up and comer the way Laviolette was.

  14. GREG says:

    Who is Nick Colombo? Do you write one article per year on the islanders only to say they are terrible at making decisions.

    Name a coach and this article would be somewhat credible. Instead it just sounds like a rant of someone who has only read AP and Post articles on the Islanders wrote anything, because his boss told him he had to write article on the islanders.

  15. Mike says:

    Capuano become the head coach in mid November. It took the kids a few weeks to learn his system. Since the middle of December the Islanders have the most points in the league. Going into next season there is a lot to hope for in the Isles, However their biggest problem will be the starting goalie DP, sporting a an .876 SV%, and almost 4 goals against a game, wont get things done.

    1. DP Overrated says:

      I think we all need to explain to the organization that we want nothing to do with DP. He is terrible and I hope they are smart enought to go with Montoya. Give DP a job training the ice girls. Maybe he wont get hurt

  16. Steve says:

    I LOVE that this post doesn’t even reference how well the Islanders did from December 16th on. They were one of THE BEST teams in the East during that period, and it’s not just because “Jack Capuano wasn’t Scott Gordon”

    Also I would love if this column took the time to point out this top of the line head coach that was out there and ready to be hired by the Islanders? Is Jack Capuano really a step down from the retreads out there?

    The biggest name coach out there is either Craig MacTavish or Marc Crawford.

    MacTavish showed a complete inability to work with young players in Edmonton and Crawford hasn’t lasted any longer then 2 years at his last few gigs.

    Maybe Garth Snow should have went out back, done a dance and a jig that caused Al Arbour to be 20 years younger and willing to coach the Islanders again.

    This column is clearly written by someone who did not follow the Islanders all year long, did not hear interviews from the players themselves praising Cappy and did not see a team that was clearly a different team from the one that started the year.

    Also let’s not forget that Cappy coached the Isles to one of the best teams in the east while going through 6 different Goaltenders and 14 different defenseman. But hey, the Islanders were only good because Cappy wasn’t Gordon.

    1. Nick Colombo says:

      “But hey, the Islanders were only good because Cappy wasn’t Gordon.” See, I’m glad you got my point.

      1. Jerry K says:

        100% THIS GUY NICK IS CLUELESS HE NEEDS ANOTHER PROFESSION HE DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ISLES OR HOCKEY AND SHOULD JUST QUIT WHILE HES AHEAD…HE WROTE 2 MONTHS AGO COACHING IS EVERYTHING AND THE REASON THE ISLES HAD A TURN AROUND SEASON NOW HE SAYS THE COACH WHO TURNED THE TEAM AROUND IS NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE LOL WHAT A DUMASS THIS GUY IS WHERE DID HE GET HIS JOB OR DEGREE FROM A CRACKER JACK BOX…NEVER HERD OF HIM EITHER SURE NO ONE HAS BUT THATS WHY HE IS NOT A WRITER WHO WILL EVER BE KNOWN OR MAKE IT IN NY LOL GO RIGHT ABOUT THE RANGERS AND HOW THEY BACKED INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITH THE HIGHEST PAYROLL IN THE NHL BUT JOHN TORTARELLA IS THE RIGHT COACH?!! LOLL

  17. Curt says:

    Of course the were going to re-sign him. If no free agents want to come to the Isle then why would a coach, no less a good one. The Isles are dead in the water until someone answers the question about a new rink. The people of LI (I used to be one of these suckers) have no one to blame but themselves if they lose that team. In the last 20 years they built two huge malls just behind the Coliseum and not a single person responsible for planning thought that maybe we can build the mall around a sports complex. The Lighthouse project would have been nice in the 1990’s but the criminals who run Nassau politics couldn’t find a way to make them and their buddies rich so they did nothing. LI will soon be nothing but rich people with water views on the coast and a strip mall dotted with laundromats and fly by night churches in the middle. Or in other words Queens.

  18. RJ says:

    Pro sports are not like fantasy sports. Why? The human factor. It’s like the Knicks trade for Anthony … you can’t simply swap parts and expect instant cohesion.

    With that in mind, why take a team (that is fragile to begin with) and saddle them with their 3rd coach in less than a calendar year?

    Now, I would never refute that there may be ‘Better’ coaches available … but sometimes the fit is just as (if not more so) important.

    This is one of those times.

    Your article reeks of the typical “Bigger is better” NY sports mentality. Why get a bigger name when the name that you have is getting positive results?

    Ridiculous.

    Jack may not be the best coach, but he is (right now) the best coach for this team.

    1. Nick Colombo says:

      Good point RJ. Thanks for being one of the only people to comment that applied reason in their counter argument.

  19. Franco says:

    Wasn’t Laviolette pretty similar to Capuano before he got to the Isles?

  20. Mike says:

    I don’t even know where to begin. First of all I would love to know what “top line head coach” would even think about coming to Long Island to coach the Islanders. The Islanders need a a guy like Cappy to grow with the team. You had the perfect opportunity in Laviolette but that is all history now. Looking forward this is going to be the better option for the Isles. I just hope Wang can hold on for a few more years because that’s how much longer it will take until the Islles will be a ligitimate cup contender.

  21. MikeBossyInc. says:

    If Capuano is the wrong choice, as you have stated in no uncertain terms, who is the right one? It’s one thing to disagree with a franchise’s decision, but it’s something else entirely when a columnist doesn’t offer solutions. Nick, name who should be the coach. Without that, this column is only 50 percent on the mark.

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