The New York Islanders have clearly been the biggest disappointment in hockey this season. Nobody expected this team would be sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a record of 17-17-8, good for just 42 points in 42 games. This is especially true after last season in which the franchise won its first playoff series since 1993.
So who do you blame? Well, it seems the coach is always the first to go. After serving seven seasons as head coach of the Islanders, Jack Capuano has been relieved of his duties.
We’ve all seen this movie before: team performs below expectations and the head coach becomes the scapegoat.
“The New York Islanders would like to thank [Capuano] for his tireless work throughout his seven seasons with the organization as Head Coach,” President and GM Garth Snow said in a statement. “His leadership guided the team to the playoffs in three of the past four years, which included two straight 100-point seasons. He is a great coach and an even better person. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
Assistant GM Doug Weight has been named interim head coach.
The problems the Islanders are facing go way deeper than just the coach, however. Many who follow the organization consider the questionable decisions by Snow to be the true downfall of the team.
After all, it was Snow who let three key players (Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin) go to free agency). It was believed he let Okposo and Nielsen leave via free agency for salary reasons. However, in an attempt to replace Okposo, Snow signed Andrew Ladd to a massive seven-year, $38.5 million deal that has not paid dividends so far. Ladd has eight goals and four assists in 41 games and seemingly has very little, if any, chemistry with star John Tavares. Okposo would have signed a similar deal and had proven chemistry and success with JT; he signed a $42 million deal with Buffalo that gives him a $6 million cap hit instead of $5.5 million. Okposo has 13 goals and 29 points so far this season.
Snow admitted that “one hundred percent” of the blame for this season should be on him.
“I don’t think there’s a player on our roster I haven’t had a hand in either drafting, picking up off waivers, a trade, free agent signing … same with the staff, whether it’s trainers, the coaches, scouts. Obviously, I’m not hiding from the fact that it starts with me.”
Based on reaction from around the internet of today’s dismissal of Capuano, many Islanders fans would not be disappointed with a complete overhaul of the front office. It is not an easy task to replace an NHL general manager or a large portion of a front office, however. As a result, Capuano is the one out of a job.
However, with new owners, if the franchise does not see the expected success soon, one has to assume Snow will be the next one out the door.
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