#Isles News: Jack Capuano has been relieved of his duties as Head Coach. Assistant GM Doug Weight will serve as interim Head Coach.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 17, 2017
Well the timing is certainly odd, but Islanders fans got what they wanted as news yesterday came out with the firing of head coach, Jack Capuano. Capuano leaves as the second winningest coach in Islanders history and has set a reasonable bar to be achieved by future head coaches and not go after one of the all-time greats in Al Arbour. Do I believe he was the second greatest coach in Islanders history? No. If you come to read here regularly, you know I love playing the percentages. So with that, here are the top 5 coaches in terms of winning percentages:
1. Al Arbour 1500 games .568 winning percentage
2. Peter Laviolette 158 games .548
3. Jack Capuano 483 games .536
4. Steve Sterling 118 games .521
5. Ted Nolan 163 games .518
In my humble opinion, some of those names should have stayed longer and Capuano should have left earlier. However, had Capuano stayed for the rest of this season, he may have dropped further down to Sterling’s and Nolan’s numbers. Capuano did what he could with the roster that was in front of him. Was it all his fault? Not a chance. He was brought in to develop players and his system may not have been the right fit for the younger players. To his credit (for better or worse), he was the coach that got his team out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since Al Arbour and fans did see two 100 point seasons. The drawback to that was those feats, especially the first round advancement, should have happened in the shortened 2013 and the bounce back 2015 season. You don’t run out a goalie in the playoffs without finishing them off like they did against Pittsburgh in 2013 and when you take a team favored like the Capitals in 2015 to seven games and not win the series, it’s on the coaches as well as the players. I wish Jack nothing but the best and it would not shock me at all if Capuano was back as a coach or as an assistant in the NHL if he so desires to. Now, about the other issue fans have. I believe Jeff Capellini summed it up nicely here.
You may hate the idea, but my guess is Ledecky gives Garth one final window, with a coach hire and final chance to equip Tavares. #Isles
— Jeff Capellini (@JCapWFAN) January 18, 2017
To Snow’s credit, his draft record is still pretty good and it’s the fact the Islanders have enough in the prospect pool to even consider making a big trade/move as Capellini suggests, speaks volume to what the Islanders had when Snow started, which were names like Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Jessie Joensuu, and Andrew MacDonald. The development of the prospects is now more imperative than ever and the Islanders need to make changes that should be taken with careful consideration. Having said this, the rest of the season belongs to the players. How far Islanders captain John Tavares and the rest of the players want to go is up to them. I will continue to show the percentages, but fans need to see a positive response in the overall play of the team’s players. There are no more excuses for them. How bad do they want to win? How bad do they want to show the firing of the coach is justified? If the Islanders remain a 80-85 point pace team for the rest of the year, was it really the coach? If fans don’t see better production from younger players such as Nelson, Strome or Prince, was it really coaching? Will Anthony Beauvillier see more ice-time this second half with the coaching change?
All these questions will be addressed as the season moves on. Looking back, this was a better move to let Capuano go now and not wait for the completion of the season. Like in 2014, hopefully the last time for a few years, fans should sit back and watch. See who improves, who doesn’t and by the end of the season, everyone will have a better picture of where the Islanders are as an organization. The changes should be easier and the “addition by subtraction” will be swift. After that, well, I’ll get into that in my next piece.