NY Islanders: Rick Kowalsky Hired as Head Coach of the Bridgeport Islanders

Albany Devils v Toronto Marlies
Albany Devils v Toronto Marlies / Graig Abel/GettyImages

The NY Islanders AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders, have hired their new Head coach, as Rick Kowalsky will take over behind the bench for the 2023-24 season.

Kowalsky was an assistant under former Heach Coach Brent Thompson since 2021 and previously spent 15 years in the New Jersey Devils organization. He was behind the Devils' bench as an assistant from 2018-2020 after spending eight seasons as the Head Coach for the AHL Albany Devils and Binghamton Devils. Kowalsky was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year following the 2015-16 season after leading his team to the AHL's second-best record. Before his time in the AHL, he spent four seasons in the ECHL as the bench boss for the Trenton Devils and Trenton Titans, receiving the John Brophy Award as the league's top coach in 2009.

Kowalsky was a tenth-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 1992 - though he never saw NHL action, he spent 12 seasons bouncing between the AHL and ECHL.

Kowalsky was always favored to be offered the position once Thompson left to take an assistant job with the Anaheim Ducks under former Isles Assistant Coach Greg Cronin. Lou Lamoriello has been notorious for bringing back players or coaches he's previously worked alongside, making Kowalsky the likely choice to take over the job.

Similar to the Lane Lambert hiring after Barry Trotz was relieved of his duties, Kowalsky has been in the organization, so players and the front office will already be familiar with his coaching style and what is expected of them.

Thompson, who was in charge of the Bridgeport Islanders/Sound Tigers for the last nine seasons, has been criticized for a lack of development among many of the Islanders' top prospects during his tenure. Kowalsky offers new leadership as the organization hopes he can get the best out of some of the Islanders' top young players like William Dufour and Matthew Maggio.

Kowalsky's first game in charge will be on October 13, as the B-Isles open their season on the road against the Rochester Americans.