New York Islanders

Jack Capuano has coached the New York Islanders to two playoff appearances since 2010-11. It’s now time to let another coach lead the Isles to a third.

By Justin Weiss

They say that you can’t fire the players, but you can fire the coach.

Jack Capuano probably would like to fire his players after his team lost five of their last six games, but he can’t, and he should ultimately be the one getting the axe following his team’s disappointing start to the 2015-16 NHL season.

After sending down Ryan Strome to the AHL, healthy scratching Josh Bailey and watching as his team blows game after game, Jack Capuano’s tenure as head coach of the Isles should be coming to a close.

Forget his replacement — that’s general manager Garth Snow’s job.

It will be difficult to obtain a legitimate coach midseason, sure. But the bottom line is that the Islanders need a change in scenery, and that entails a change in head coach.

“There is such an onus to win hockey games now, and those certain markets that made those changes there are expectations to make the playoffs or do better than that,” Ray Shero said when he was the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. “One of the things you find out, and we have all seen, that waiting too long can cost you.”

It appears that the Isles have waited long enough. Capuano’s fault or not, the Isles have the talent and depth to contend in the Eastern Conference. As of right now, that isn’t happening.

“GMs are in a bind, too,” said former Edmonton Oilers coach Tom Renney, thrice fired as an NHL coach. “They don’t often want to admit a mistake in drafting, signing, acquiring the underachieving or misfit player, as it is clearly a reflection on them, as it is in hiring the coach who may not be able to get the wins.

“Players are acquired, coaches are hired and GM inspired by what they truly believe is the right person and having a loyalty to the philosophical line of their head coach by securing him to a strong term with compensation to match. Over time, unless the team replaces three players per year — a random number — the change will most often come from behind the bench.”

Cappy’s philosophy — he loosened up the system, relaxed the atmosphere, emphasized defensive play, and re-introduced the role of punching the other team in the mouth every now and then according to Lighthouse Hockey — may have been suitable for a young, inexperienced squad, but with a team that is expected to contend, his theory doesn’t seem all too effective.

“There is no questioning the fact Capuano is a terrific motivator. His guys will run through a wall for him, and that’s more than a lot of teams can say.

But that’s the stuff of the AHL. This is the big leagues, where good intentions die quiet deaths under a pile of losses.”(NY Post, 3/21/15)

It may appear like an overreaction, but New York is in grave danger if something doesn’t change.

That starts with the culture instilled by head coach Jack Capuano, who is merely minor league material. If the Isles want to win — and if Garth Snow is concerned for his job, he likely does — a move will need to be made.

It’s time to say goodbye to Jack Capuano.

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.