The New York Islanders the California portion of the West coast road trip with 1-2-0 record, firmly planting them in last place in the NHL. And our head coach still stands behind the bench.
Just on that statement alone, without any other historical understanding of the New York Islanders franchise, firing the coach doesn’t seem like a foregone conclusion. Being in last place doesn’t equal firing just on its own.
But then you consider that last six years of Jack Capuano behind the Islanders bench and a last place standing should be enough to get the axe. That’s why odds makers had Capuano a +210 to be the first NHL coach to be fired.
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Only the Vancouver Canucks Willie Desjardin had better odds at +200 than the Isles bench boss. To many of us it seemed like a guarantee that Capuano would be eventually be fired, and being the first in the NHL this season seemed increasingly likely with the Isles poor performances.
Then the Florida Panthers cut Gerrard Gallant. I hope you didn’t put any money down on Cappy being the first to go. If so, I’m sorry for your loss.
Issue of Result not Analytics
Gallant was fired after the Panthers loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, leaving the Panthers in 18th with an 11-10-1 record. With just a quarter of the season gone the Florida brass decided a .500 record wasn’t good enough.
The Panthers clearly has expectations for this season, and two points outside of a wild card spot wasn’t one of them. This wasn’t a matter of analytics telling them that this coach wasn’t the right fit (although I’m sure there are stats that proof this). It was a matter of results not matching expectations.
Which begs the question: what’s it going to take for the Islanders?
This season has not gone according to plan. The Isles management and even ownership weren’t expecting a last place team. In the summer, John Ledecky even stated that the goal was to get to the conference finals.
With three-quarters of the regular season to play, does any of us see that as a possibility? Sure, play that Kevin Durant GiF playing on repeat as a long as you want, but sometimes anything isn’t possible.
Anything Isn’t Always Possible
Does management need to revisit it’s expectations for the season? No. But that means something needs to happen in order to get this team playing the way it needs to play to win.
That doesn’t mean redrawing the lines. That’s been done. Cal Clutterbuck was a top line player for a few week for crying-out-loud. I love Clutterbuck, but he isn’t a top line player.
It means a trade. It means changing the coach, or some of his staff. Or changing management. Maybe all of these reek of a knee-jerk reaction, but at this point it’s all they got.
Something needs to change The status quo just isn’t enough anymore. Some will rightfully argue that the status quo wasn’t enough a while ago. Florida did what they thought they should do to win. The results weren’t matching their expectations.