Over the past 4 years we have watched the New York Islanders grow and develop tremendously as a team. Starting with the first overall selection of John Tavares in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and continuing with a
2012 – 2013 season playoff berth the Islanders have given their fans something to be excited about.
A large contributor to this success who often goes unnoticed is the Islanders’ Head Coach, Jack Capuano. Just as the players and the team have grown and matured as hockey players Capuano has grown as an NHL head coach.
Jack Capuano joined the New York Islanders as an assistant coach in the 2005 – 06 season as an assistant coach. In 2006 – 07 Capuano became an assistant coach for the team’s AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before becoming the Sound Tiger’s head coach for the 2007 – 08 season. He would remain in that position until he was called upon on November 15, 2010 to relieve Scott Gordon of his head coaching duties on Long Island for the remainder of the 2010 – 11 season.
Under Capuano the Islanders recovered from a 10 game losing streak and over the next 65 games the team went 26 – 29 – 10 only three games under NHL .500. The team would finish 30 – 39 – 13 for the season in a disappointing 14th place in the Eastern Conference. The following season, Garth Snow and Charles Wang made the right decision in retaining Capuano as the team’s head coach allowing him to grow within the team as the team grew as well. In 2011 – 12 the team continued to grow along with Capuano and although they once again finished in 14th place there was something about the team that gave fans hope.
That brings us to last year’s success.
It is no secret that through his first season-and-a-half as the Islanders’ head coach Cappy had his flaws and made his mistakes. Jack is known for his teams’ lackluster fist ten minutes to a game, ten minutes that in 2011 – 12 often killed the Islanders.
Last season the team seemed to be more up for their games from the get-go and as professional athletes the team should be able to motivate themselves, but that only goes so far. A coach’s job is not to simply pick his lineup and try to arrange the best possible match ups, but also to instill a set of values, energy and work ethic into his team. A coach also has to get his players to buy into these ideals as a whole. It appears that last season Capuano achieved his goal of getting the team to buy into his game plan and it earned the team a spot in the
2012 – 2013 playoffs and gave Islander fans a breath of fresh air and the hope and excitement they have been so desperately waiting for.
This season Capuano has the right personnel to fit his game plan and coaching style and that can improve on last year’s success. Cappy’s ideals are simple and they follow the sacred Islander tradition that fans have been holding onto for so long.
1. Battle Level – Every game, practice and training session come with a purpose and with a passion. Give the extra effort along the boards and in the corner and sacrifice your body to make the best possible play you can make.
2. Blue Collar Hockey – We may not be the team who will score the most “highlight-reel” goals but we will score goals. This ties into Battle Level and you can’t have one without the other on Long Island.
3. Camaraderie – No one player is above the rest. It is no secret that John Tavares is the best player on the Islanders, he is the best player in the tri-state area (I went there). However even Tavares buys into Cappy’s style and has earned the ‘C’ that he was given this season. Andy, Mike and Rich can attest to the environment of the locker room and how this team is more than a team it is a family.
Jack Capuano is the exactly what the Islanders needed behind the bench. It has the right frame of mind to help the young guns grow and he has earned the respect of the veterans on the team, which is not always easy to do. As long as Cappy stays behind the Islanders’ bench and Garth Snow remains in the front office this team will continue to move in the right direction and a trip to the promised land is inevitable.