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New York Islanders: Building Toronto Around John Tavares

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: (L-R) Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: (L-R) Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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It’s official. The New York Islanders have a new general manager in Lou Lamoriello and are on the hunt for a head coach. The plan going forward is simple: build the best possible organization for John Tavares and the way to do that is by taking Toronto’s lead.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the New York Islanders have officially relieved both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Dough Weight of their duties. Lou Lamoriello has taken full control of the organization and clearly isn’t shy about making changes. Now the rebuild of staff can truly begin.

Fans of the Islanders have been clamoring for Garth Snow to be fired for many seasons and have finally gotten a suitable replacement. However, what they’ve had less time to consider is who should said new GM be surrounded by. With only a season and a half to judge Weight by, it was uncertain whether looking for a new coach was worth the time.

With major changes being made and many more still to come, it’s time to start thinking about the staff Lamoriello plans on surrounding himself with. One organization he might model these reborn Islander after is that of his former team, the Toronto Maples Leafs.

Reversing the Narrative

For years, Canadian media has been trying to convince the public that July 1st of 2018 would be John Tavares’ homecoming and that he would be a perfect fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, with Lou Lamoriello captaining the ship of the Islanders, there are rumors that his plan is to bring Toronto to New York.

This starts with his right hand. There have many in the hockey world who think that it’s likely that Mark Hunter, the assistant general manager of the Leafs would be following Lamoriello once he left Toronto. This would give the Islanders a road-tested and  capable team in their front office. Although we won’t know until July 1st, when Hunter’s contract with Toronto expires, this would be a logical move for the Islanders organization.

A New Face Behind the Bench

Something else the Islanders could poach from the Leafs organization is their AHL team’s head coach, Sheldon Keefe. Keefe has found extreme success with the Toronto Marlies and is urgently coaching them in the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. Known as a coach that believes in the power of hockey analytics and knows how to implement them in the game itself, Keefe would be perfectly suited for a new of budding talent.

When the New York Rangers recently fired their head coach, he was extremely sought after by fans who sang the praises of a coach who knows how to work with and properly manage young players and who is ready to make the leap into the National Hockey League. It seems unlikely that Keefe be given this chance in Toronto with Mike Babcock finding his own success with the Leafs.

Why not give Keefe his chance in New York under management that he is at least a little familiar with?

Next: Islanders Fire Weight And Snow

With Lamoriello, Hunter and Keefe on staff, the Islanders would be taking some of the best pieces of Toronto’s staff and implementing it in their own system. This would be the perfect chance to improve the organization and turn the “Tavares to Toronto” narrative into a “Toronto to Tavares” one.

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