Are The Islanders Doomed?

South Hempstead, NY – This season was supposed to be something great for Islander fans. The next step in the great rebuild, a year where the Isles finally made a move for a premier player, and so much more.

However, with the season nearing the half way mark, the Islanders have placed themselves comfortably near the bottom of the NHL. How did this happen? More importantly, how can it be fixed, if it all?

These sorts of questions are frequently asked, and blame is then eventually tossed around to various people around the team. “Fire Snow, and Fire Cappy”! These are some common sentiments among the fan base. Sure, it’s easy to lay into the faces of the organization, but how much effect do they have on the team and how they’re playing currently?

If you’d read my previous article regarding my defense for Garth Snow, you’d know that I don’t place much blame on him for these woes. Garth’s been dealt a bad hand, and while he rarely hits home runs like he did with Matt Moulson, very rarely does he make foolish decisions. Then again, what GM is able to pull top-flight players out of thin air? The Parenteau decision, as well as the indecision to bring in a new goaltender this year, may top his list of bad decisions in recent years.

Then, there’s the coach, Jack Capuano. Truthfully, I’ve never been a fan of Cappy, but it’s hard to argue that he was the coach the team needed at the time of his hiring. He knew a lot of the players well from his time in Bridgeport, and is a player’s coach. Despite this, the team has yet to take that next step forward, minus last year’s playoff run. So, what’s the issue?

Consistency.

There have been flashes of how good this team can be on more than one occasion. Most recently was the game against the Rangers in MSG, where the Islanders were able to put four past Lundqvist. They fought back to pick up a shootout win against the Sharks, one of the better teams in the West, dominated the Red Wings in Detriot, and stole a win in Minnesota. So this raises the question, once again, how can this be fixed?

In my opinion, the answer is this; having a coach like Capuano makes players complacent, lazy, and lowers their motor. From all accounts, Jack Capuano is a great man, and a smart hockey mind. However, this does not change the fact that the team has performed extremely poorly at almost all times under his leadership.

One could even look at first year captain John Tavares and point the finger at him for maybe not being as explosive as he could be, but lets not forget, these issues predate Tavares’ captainship.

No, to me this has a simple answer, but no good solution; Jack Capuano is the weakest link at this point. However, this leads us to another good question…

Who will replace Capuano as head coach if the move is made?

It seems like all season fans have been screaming that they want no one but Peter Laviolette to come in as head coach. Reportedly he and team owner Charles Wang maintained a good relationship following his departure from the team following the 02-03 season after leading the Isles to back to back playoff appearances. He’s also won a Stanley Cup as the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, and made it back to the Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Point being, this guy is a talented coach and has done well no matter where he’s coached. He’s a hard-nosed coach and would definitely work wonders for a young Islanders team that is extremely inconsistent. A hiring as high profile as that mid season is definitely not Snow and Wang’s M.O., so most likely someone from Capuano’s staff would take the reigns. Are you prepared for Brent Thompson or Doug Weight the NHL coach?

So, I ask you again, how can this be fixed?

Well, I should probably revise this question now that we’ve discussed how it COULD be fixed, but ultimately won’t be.

Now, how will the Isles fix this?

Garth Snow gave a brief interview before the Islanders game against the Wild on Sunday, where he basically stated that he was happy with the coaching staff and wasn’t look to make any changes. Garth never shows his hand, so I wouldn’t look too much into the interview with regards to any of his responses. However, I do think the Isles found a coach that they like, which does not make him the right coach by any means. But they found a guy who bought into their system, promoted from the AHL, and made the playoffs with. I don’t see this as a coach that they’d remove one year after a playoff berth. His contract status after this year is up in the air, so he might not return if Garth and the rest of the front office want to head in a different direction, but I wouldn’t place any money on the hope that Capuano is fired midseason.

Which brings me to the title of this piece…. are the Islanders doomed?

Anthony Tartamella

IslesBlog