With only one coach returning from a year ago, the New York Islanders are closing the book on the Garth Snow era.
The New York Islanders have spent the last 24 hours bolstering their coaching staff, hiring renowned instructors to lead the team into battle next season.
Since Monday, the Islanders have hired 60-year-old Mitch Korn and 50-year-old Piero Greco to prepare the club’s goaltending strategy. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz now has a full staff, which is composed of longtime confidants and holdovers.
On Monday, the Islanders informed Fred Brathwaite that he will not be returning next season as the club’s goaltending coach. In his place, the Isles hired Piero Greco, the head goaltending coach of the Toronto Marlies for the past four seasons, and a coach in the Ontario Hockey League for the Owen Sound Attack (2002-04), Barrie Colts (2004-10) and Kitchener Rangers (2010-13).
Greco helped Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard finish top-seven in the American Hockey League in goals-against average the past four years. Greco himself played professionally for 12 seasons in Italy, England and Austria.
Greco, the owner and operator of Piero Greco Hockey School, believes in “consistent encouragement,” “adjusting to goalies development needs” and “methods supported through video as well as working with each individual to increase mental focus and toughness,” according to his website.
Greco has not worked with Trotz in the past. On the other hand, Korn, who was named director of goaltending on Tuesday, has been with Trotz since 1998, when the two coached together in Nashville. Greco has been coaching now for almost 37 years in the professional and collegiate ranks.
Korn is widely respected as one of the best in the business and has worked with a number of NHL goaltenders including Dominik Hašek, Pekka Rinne, Grant Fuhr, Chris Mason and Braden Holtby.
The Islanders allowed a league-worst 293 goals last season — 55 more than Korn’s Capitals allowed in the same time frame. Islanders starting goalie Thomas Greiss had a 3.82 goals-against average, which ranks last among all qualifying netminders.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby struggled last season, but backup Philipp Grubauer — an Islanders trade target from earlier this offseason — posted excellent numbers: 15-10-3 with a 2.35 GAA and a .923 save percentage.
When Korn was a teenager, he played goalie for the Springfield Olympics (MA) and won a championship in 1976. He played college hockey at Kent State. After his graduation, he joined Miami University as an assistant coach.
In 1991, he coached Hašek, who was nicknamed “The Dominator” for his four Vezina Trophies and two Hart Trophies, in Buffalo. In 1998, he joined Trotz in Nashville, and he has coached with him ever since.
Trotz is the fifth-winningest coach all time, but won the Stanley Cup for the first time this year, with the Capitals. Korn transitioned from head goalie coach to director of goaltending in 2017-18, in order to cut back on his schedule.
Korn’s “hard work, superb communication skills, ability to ‘dissect’ a goalie’s game, and great sense of humor have gained him the respect and friendship of those he has coached and worked with at all levels,” his website says.
Korn and Greco join a staff that already includes associate coach Lane Lambert, assistant coaches Scott Gomez and John Gruden, and of course, Trotz.
Luke Richardson and Kelly Buchberger, assistant coaches on Doug Weight’s staff, have signed on with other clubs. Gomez is the only holdover from last year’s crew.
Make no mistake about it: the Islanders are closing the book on the Garth Snow era.