Eight years ago the New York Islanders named Scott Gordon to the Head Coach position left vacant after Ted Nolan left for the second time. It was an experiment that ended with the hiring of Jack Capuano.
On August 12th, 2008 the New York Islanders appointed Providence Brins Head Coach Scott Gordon to the vacant Head Coaching position on Long Island after Ted Nolan was axed, for a second time, for what was “philosophical differences”.
Gordon wasn’t what you would call a standard hire. Gordon had never coached an NHL team before. He had built his brand coaching up the ranks of the hockey world. Moving from the tiny IHL, through the ECHL, before landing in Providence of the AHL.
Gordon earned enough accolades in coaching for eight years in Providence to be considered for the NHL. In his final season with Providence, and just before being hired by the New York Islanders Gordon was named the AHL’s coach of the year for leading Providence to a 117 point season.
The Risk That Didn’t Pay Off
That was enough for Garth Snow to take a fly on Gordon. And boy did it not pan out. (That last sentence is dripping with sarcasm).
In Scott Gordon’s first season as an NHL coach the team finished with 61 points and dead least in the division and the league. Although to be fair that season wasn’t a total loss. Ending in last got us the ability to draft first overall at that year’s entry draft.
Where we selected the one-and-only John Tavares.
The following season, Gordon’s second, faired a little better. We were still last in our division, but we were able to accumulate an extra 18 points. Thanks in large part to a fresh-faced 19-year-old John Tavares who scored 54 points in his first full season.
It was enough to keep Gordon behind the bench to start the 2010-11 season. Unfortunately for Gordon, the Islanders had a 4-10-3 record in the opening 17 games. He was fired and in came our current coach Jack Capuano.
Second Time’s A Charm, Right?
The firing of Scott Gordon was a clear reaction to endless losing. Under his predecessor Nolan, the Islanders made the playoffs in the 2006-07 season. The Islanders got a taste of the post-season and wanted the good times to keep rolling.
Gordon had limited experience and didn’t come into the roll on the soundest of footings. When Gordon inevitably failed to get the Islanders to where they wanted to be with their incredibly young core you’d think GM Snow wouldn’t have gone back to the AHL to get another coach.
But that’s exactly what he did. He stayed within the New York Islanders organization but still turned to their AHL affiliate for their next head coach. On November 15th, 2010 Jack Capuano was named as the interim head coach of the New York Islanders.
Maybe the “interim” tag was Snow showing that he had potentially taken pause to hiring another AHL coach with no previous NHL experience.
Capuano has been doing a good job over the last six years behind the bench of the Islanders. But with two 100 point season and only one playoff series victory, has Capuano plateaued? Or has the organization stagnated with the same voice behind the bench for so long?
This season might just be the final year for Capuano to take another step forward. A step back should result in Capuano being given an honorable discharge by the Islanders. Perhaps, this time, they target an experienced bench boss.