The Islanders Have Had a Coaching Problem Since Laviolette
Peter Laviolette began his NHL coaching career with the Islanders back in 2001. He took over an Islanders team that had been struggling since their run to the ECF back in 1993. This team had some new talent but was not expected to be a playoff team.
In Laviolette’s first year, he got the Isles back to the playoffs and gave the fierce Toronto Maple Leafs a run for their money in the first round. The 2001-2002 season was such a step forward for the Islanders that they had faith in Laviolette for the 2002-2003 season. This time, the Islanders made the playoffs but fell to the Senators in a first-round series that wasn’t nearly as close as the year prior. After the season ended, Mike Milbury made the decision to fire Laviolette with his reason being, “he came up short and did not inspire the group enough”. That was the seventh coach Milbury had fired in just his seven and a half years as a GM. Not only was this the end of Laviolette’s career with New York, it was an end to good, stable coaching for the Blue and Orange.
The Isles would go on to hire Steve Stirling, who didn’t improve the team that Laviolette was building but only stayed on the mediocre path that Milbury continued to pave for the rest of his career. Stirling was fired mid-season and came along Brad Shaw who served as a temporary HC to finish the subpar 2005-2006 season. Ted Nolan served for two seasons and given the team he had, I believe he did the best he could. But knowing the New York Islanders, he was fired to be replaced by Scott Gordon. These years (2008-2010) I refer to as the “Dark Days” in Islanders history until we reached 2016 but that’s another topic. After another coach served only two years with the Islanders, Scott Gordon was replaced with our good friend Jack Capuano. Now his first few years seemed promising but once you put him and his system under a microscope you’ll see how flawed it was with a team that should be making an impact in the playoffs. One example to prove this claim was the powerplay statistic alone. In Cappy’s tenure, the Isles averaged a PP percentage of 17.6% and not once in seven and a half seasons did the Islanders have a powerplay that ranked top 10 in the league and only once did we crack the top 15. What makes all of this even worse is that despite Capuano having a worse-than-mediocre career with the Islanders, he was still the second-winningest coach in Islanders history only behind the late Al Arbour. The only reason for this wasn’t because he was a good coach but only because he was the second-longest serving head coach behind (you guessed it), Al Arbour.
Capuano was fired and Doug Weight was hired only as an interim head coach last season but due to the surge the team made at the end of the season, Weight was hired as the permanent HC for the 2017-2018 season. This surge was impressive but also expected. Usually, when a good team gets a new coach or new player after struggling for a decent amount of time, that team starts temporarily playing better and playing with more energy. This has happened in the past with other teams when replacing coaches midseason and didn’t surprise me when it happened with Weight. A lot of Isles fans have grown to believe that Doug Weight is the answer to the Isles’ coaching problem when if you know their history, he most likely isn’t. Weight was also the assistant coach during most of Capuano’s tenure so the thought of him being a huge “change” is not valid. This is why I’m not surprised the Isles’ PP started 0-15 this season as well as now 6 shorthanded goals conceded.
Putting all of this into account I really hope Doug proves me wrong and we do well this season but I’m convinced we need a new coaching staff if we want to make any mark in the playoffs. We only have a season left to convince JT that we can win a cup during his career and decisions need to be made. Lets Go Islanders!