Could Lou Lamoriello’s next move be bringing in his former player, Scott Stevens, to join the New York Islanders’ coaching staff?
Tuesday, the New York Islanders’ president of hockey operations, Lou Lamoriello, relieved head coach Doug Weight and general manager Garth Snow of their duties. Lamoriello will take over as the team’s general manager.
In a conference call shortly after the news had been made public, Lamoriello said that everything else remained ‘status-quo’ despite a report that the entire coaching staff had been let go.
The search for a new head coach has already begun, but it appears as if Lamoriello might be looking for even more behind the Islanders’ bench.
According to Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank, the legendary Scott Stevens is a ‘leading candidate’ to join the Isles’ coaching staff.
Stevens has played in 1,635 regular-season games, scoring 196 goals and 908 points, as well as an astonishing +395 rating as a defenseman. The now 54-year-old played eight seasons with the Washington Capitals, one for the St. Louis Blues, and his final 12 with the New Jersey Devils.
The Hockey Hall of Famer (inducted in 2007) is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, winning with New Jersey in 1995, 2000 (won the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player of the playoffs), and 2003. Last year, as a part of the NHL’s celebration of their 100th season, Stevens was recognized as one of the top 100 players the Leauge has ever had.
As a coach, Stevens spent a few years behind the bench for the Devils but most recently he was an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild during the 2016-17 season. After the season had ended he left the job, saying that he wanted to “spend more time with his family” who live in the metropolitan area. This past season he served as a studio analyst for NHL Network.
As Botta cites in his story, Lamoriello had nothing but praise for Stevens in a story from Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after Stevens was hired.
“He’s a student of the game and has an incredible way of explaining things to defensemen, whether they’re skilled, physical, defensive, so they understand. He touches all the right points with very few words.”
In his only season as a coach for the Wild, it was a career year for their blue-line. Jonas Brodin picked up the best point totals of his career (25 points in 68 games) as did Matt Dumba (34 points but had 50 this past season) and Jared Spurgeon (28 points which he matched this past season).
That season the Wild allowed 2.51 goals per game, the seventh-fewest in the league and they had the eighth-best penalty kill, killing off 82.9 percent of the opponent’s power-play opportunities.
That statistic is pretty significant considering the Islanders finished dead last in both categories this past season, allowing an average of 3.57 goals per game and killing off just 73.2 percent of penalties.
It was a tough year for the Isles’ defenseman but perhaps Stevens could turn things around.
Nick Leddy, for example, had 20 points in his first 24 games of the season and he looked poised to at least be a nominee for the James Norris Memorial Trophy (awarded to the League’s best defenseman). However, in his remaining 56 games he had 22 points and turned a +2 rating into a League-worst -44.
To be fair, the Isles did run into several injury problems, losing Calvin de Haan after a season-ending injury in December, losing Johnny Boychuk for around two months, and even their top defensive prospect in Devon Toews had his season come to an end in December.
However, the defense cost the Islanders at least a playoff-berth and while acquiring a defenseman or two should be on Lamoriello’s to-do list, it couldn’t hurt to bring one of the best defensemen ever to play into the mix to help out behind the bench.