NEW YORK – The New York Islanders hired Scott Gordon, the AHL coach of the year, on Tuesday night to replace dismissed head coach Ted Nolan.
Gordon emerged as the choice of general manager Garth Snow after an extensive search following Nolan’s departure on July 14. He agreed to a multi-year deal with the team.
The 45-year-old, who guided the Providence Bruins to the AHL’s best record and the second round of the playoffs, got the job over established NHL coaches such as John Tortorella, Joel Quenneville, Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice and Mike Sullivan, who all interviewed for the position.
“We went through a rigorous interview process, and Scott stood out among the other candidates as being a great communicator and providing structure to his team, accountability in the locker-room and disciplined play,” Snow said during a conference call. “He fits into our plan of developing our younger players and will connect with our veterans, as well.”
The hiring was first reported by Newsday on the newspaper’s website.
Gordon, who will be formally introduced at a news conference Wednesday, was picked to lead the Islanders’ youth movement that Nolan was resistant to buy into. He will be New York’s fifth coach in six seasons – the 14th overall – and the first hired by Snow since the former Islanders goalie became GM before the 2006-07 season.
Under Gordon, Providence went 55-18-3 last season, and in five seasons with the team, he was 221-141-20-27. He was an assistant with Providence for three seasons before taking over as head coach, and coached in the ECHL before that.
“Garth has given me an unbelievable opportunity to coach in the NHL with the Islanders,” Gordon said in a statement. “From my time coaching in Providence, I’ve seen firsthand the talented young players in this organization. I look at the direction and the vision for this team and see a bright future.”
Gordon played in 23 NHL games over two seasons with the Quebec Nordiques as a goalie. His career mark was 2-16 with a 5.60 goals-against average.
Snow said he first met Gordon in 1987 when they both attended training camp with the Nordiques.
“He’s always had success on the AHL level,” Snow said. “I know a little bit about his character, and everything is as advertised. It is evidenced by the way his teams have played that he is very structured in the defensive zone.”
Providence was second in goals scored last season and seventh in fewest goals against.
After getting the Islanders into the playoffs in 2007, Nolan guided the club to a 35-38-9 finish last season. He was 74-68-21 in New York.
Nolan had one season remaining on the deal he signed in 2006, when he and then-GM Neil Smith were hired on the same day. Smith was fired several weeks later and Snow, then the Islanders’ backup goalie, took over as GM.
On the day of the dismissal, Nolan and Snow cited philosophical differences as the reason for the split.
Only three NHL teams finished with fewer points than the Islanders last season.
“If you take a close look at what Scott has done with young players at Providence, you don’t have that kind of success without patience,” Snow said. “He has been a great teacher.
“I just felt he was the best fit for our organization. Just because you’re in the NHL doesn’t mean you’re done developing. Scott has a track record of developing young players.”
Gordon, a Massachusetts native who backstopped Boston College to the NCAA Frozen Four as a goalie in 1985, was the first ECHL graduate to play in the NHL. He was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic hockey team.