The Islanders’ assistant coach will remain on the staff, but is expected to take on a different role.
Islanders head coach Doug Weight said Thursday that Greg Cronin will be returning to the team’s coaching staff, adding that “he was integral for me the second half of the season.”
The remarks come amidst uncertainty about the Islanders’ future, both on- and off-the-ice. In recent weeks, Weight has added Luke Richardson and Scott Gomez to his staff, and Kelly Buchberger remains a possibility. But the most important part of the offseason is yet to happen: the Isles will need to find a way to bolster their team while also locking up captain John Tavares to a longterm deal.
“It’s an important three weeks for our organization, no doubt,” Weight told Newsday’s Arthur Staple during a phone interview. “We want to get better, not take a step back.”
Cronin is a holdover from Jack Capuano’s staff, and has served in the capacity of assistant coach since June 16, 2014. Prior to his second stint with the Isles (he was also with the team in the early 2000’s), he served as the head coach of the Northeastern Huskies and Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Over the past couple of seasons, Cronin has been tasked with running the penalty kill and defense. His future was “unknown,” wrote Staple in late May, because both units had their share of struggles. The penalty kill slipped from fourth in the league to eleventh, and the defense from thirteenth to twenty-third.
Not all of that was Cronin’s fault, of course. Goaltenders Jaroslav Halák and Thomas Greiss both faltered at points, and the team’s defensemen were sidelined at an alarmingly high rate. However, he’s expected to assume a different role next season.
Meanwhile, Weight is looking beyond the flurry of personnel moves. He already has his sights on the regular season — his first full one as a head coach — where he believes his team can and will be very well prepared.
“I’ve mapped out a lot of it,” Weight said. “I’m a writer, I’ve got two or three books of ideas. You go from thinking about how training camp will run to the season, how to get the most out of players and how to fulfill the coaches’ duties. You have to take advantage of practice times. With the Olympics looking like they’re drifting, that’s going to mean more practice for us. Every minute has to be used wisely. We want the guys to come off the ice saying, ‘Holy cow, these guys are prepared.’ ”