After starting the 2016-17 NHL season off miserably, it’s time for Garth Snow and the New York Islanders to replace Jack Capuano.After what looked like a promising win on Monday night, the New York Islanders carried no momentum into Thursday night’s game against the Lightning. What should have been revenge for a 6-1 loss turned into another 4-1 trouncing.
With lethargic special teams, puck possession, 5-on-5 play, and offensive pressure 14 games into the season, it’s obvious now, more than ever, that change is needed.
Hit The Road, Jack
Before the cries to “Fire Cappy” continue, I want to take a moment to thank him for his tenure here.
When Jack Capuano took over Scott Gordon‘s Islanders in 2011, he finished the year with 62 points. Since then, the Islanders began taking strides forward every year except for 13-14. He is due credit for helping turn this team’s dynamic around, and helping clinch the first playoff series win since 1993.
With that being said, it is very clear in the 14 games to start the season that the Islanders are not playing to capacity, not even remotely. What should have been another year of takings steps forward has begun mired in less than mediocrity. The offense is lackluster, the defense is inconsistent, the special teams are anything but, and the goaltending is spotty, mostly due to the team in front of them and the three goalie situation that is still not fixed.
This team is plateauing and they’re doing so at an alarming rate. The fanbase expects much more of the Islanders now since winning their first playoff series last season. Statistics show that teams who aren’t in a playoff position by Thanksgiving will most likely not make the playoffs. The Islanders sit seventh in their division and 25th overall in the league.
If Jack Capuano is fired, fans believe that Doug Weight, Greg Cronin or Brent Thompson would replace him. This could be, but it would be completely counter-intuitive to fire the head of the old system and replace him with someone who runs the same system. An outside voice is needed, so if (when, hopefully) Capuano goes it would be time to turn to the open market.
Here’s a small list of potential Capuano replacements:
Craig Berube most recently served as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach during the 2013-2014 season. He took an undertalented Flyers team into a 3rd seed in the Metropolitan division and lost to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers in the first round in seven games. After the wheels fell off of the 2014-2015 season, he was fired in the offseason by newly appointed General Manager Ron Hextall.
If the Islanders do not pursue an immediate fix for the head coaching position (they should not wait this long) then there would be a very strong option coming off of a strong five-year stint with the St. Louis Blues.
Ken Hitchcock announced before the beginning of the season that this season with the Blues would be his last. He sits 4th all time among the most winningest NHL coaches right behind the great Al Arbour. He won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 but hasn’t been to the Stanley Cup final since 2000. Adorned with numerous division titles and deep runs in the playoffs Hitchcock would be an admirable replacement for as long as he remains an active NHL coach.
Currently (and surprisingly) unemployed is the best and most viable option for the New York Islanders. Bob Hartley started his NHL coaching career in Colorado after being recognized in the AHL. He spent three full seasons with the Avalanche, during the third of which he won the franchise’s second Stanley Cup and the President’s Trophy. In all of his four seasons with the Avalanche, he was at the helm of four consecutive Northwest division titles. In all four years, the Avs went to at least the conference final.
After his departure with the Avalanche, he took an overachieving Thrashers team to their first and only playoff berth against the New York Rangers.
He revitalized a young Calgary Flames team and set them on the right track before he was terminated after the 2015-2016 season. The Flames woes last season were due to a lack of goaltending, not poor leadership at the helm. Flames fans were irate at his termination and it came as a surprise for the team as well.
Whatever change is going to be made, if any, must be made now.
Statistically speaking, the Islanders have about two weeks to turn their season around or miss out on the 2017 playoffs. Not just that, but if the franchise wants to entice John Tavares to stay past his contract expiration, management has to show they care.