Let’s be honest – the New York Islanders’ hiring of Scott Gordon as their new coach is not going to move mountains for them in their quarter-century quest to return to respectability.
What it does do, though, is add another small piece to a puzzle that, very quietly, could come together in a big way in the relatively near future.
Gordon is an unknown quantity to the majority of NHL fans, but the 45-year-old carries with him a reputation as one of the top young teachers in the game. That’s precisely what the Isles require at a time when the organization’s best long-term prospects reside in the hands and hockey gloves of some of the least-experienced players on the roster.
Therein lies a big part of the reason why GM Garth Snow really couldn’t go with a “name” coach such as John Tortorella or Paul Maurice to replace Ted Nolan. Hiring a veteran bench boss sends a message not only to fans and players that the time to win is now, but also to the coach himself.
Snow already learned that lesson watching Nolan grow frustrated as the Isles’ growing pains mounted. Now he’s got Gordon, a coach just as hungry as the team’s unproven prospects, somebody who will have his own lessons to learn at the same time he attempts to shorten the learning curves of Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau and Ben Walter.
At this point in the Islanders’ history, that’s as it should be. Hunger throughout the organization, from ceiling to cellar, is just what the hockey doctor ordered.
For more great analysis, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.