The New York Islanders skated off the Barclays Center ice Monday night to a chorus of boos from the hometown fans, and the continued struggles of the club seemed to have put coach Jack Capuano firmly on the hot seat.
However, it sounds like it’s going to require a struggle of catastrophic proportions in order for the Islanders to consider making a change behind the bench.
With pressure mounting from fans for the club to shake things up, GM Garth Snow gave his entire coaching staff, Capuano included, a vote of confidence, but he did stop short of actually saying that Capuano’s job was safe. However, it sure sounds like that will be the case, if only for the time being.
“Jack is an excellent coach,” Snow said, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli. “We have good players. I love our coaching staff. In fact, last time I checked, he coached in the World Cup and there were some pretty good coaching staffs.”
And while Snow added that he understood that the city and fan base wanted to see results, he pointed to the results of past seasons and said he has faith that things will turn around over the course of a long season.
“I have a lot of confidence in our players,” Snow said, according to Seravalli. “We have a good team. I have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff. We’re coming off two 100-point seasons. I think that speaks for itself for how good of a staff we have. It’s an 82-game marathon, not a sprint. We’ll keep trying to get better every day.”
It’s not hard to see where frustrations are coming from, though, and it’s easy to understand why fans have chanted for Capuano’s firing and booed the team off the ice. Over the past 10 games, the only team that has fared worse than the 2-5-3 Islanders is the 2-8-0 Vancouver Canucks. No team in the Eastern Conference sits lower in the standings than the Islanders, and only the Canucks and Arizona Coyotes are lower overall in the league.
The numbers offensively and defensively aren’t much better, either. Over their past 10 games, the Islanders have managed just 20 goals and their 32 goals against since Oct. 26 are the fourth-worst mark in the league. The goaltending rotation of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss has been shaky at best, and J-F Berube has spent the entire season watching from the sideline.
Some of the blame for this start no doubt falls on Snow, however. The off-season acquisitions of Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have combined for three goals and eight points in 16 games, and cutting P-A Parenteau ahead of the season looks foolish right now, as he has notched five goals and seven points in 15 games for the New Jersey Devils. That’s not to mention the moves made to change up the forward group hurt even more given Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen have quickly found fits in their new homes.
Really, the best addition Snow made all off-season was on the back end with Dennis Seidenberg, who had four goals and eight points in 15 games before suffering a broken jaw, and that’s the kind of season it’s been for the Islanders thus far. Even when things have gone well, it feels like only a matter of time before they take a turn for the worse.
That said, Snow is right in that there’s still plenty of time for things to turn around in Brooklyn. Maybe John Tavares, who has been a Hart Trophy finalist in two of the past four seasons, turns it on out of nowhere and singlehandedly pulls the team back into contention. Maybe Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk starting shutting down opposition stars, and maybe Halak, Greiss or possibly even Berube find some magic between the pipes.
Or maybe, by mid-season, nothing has changed at all. If that’s the case, though, Snow might have no other choice than to try something, anything, to shake up his club.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Get 10 issues of The Hockey News magazine for just $15.99!