With three of the more established coaches having completed their first round of interviews, it’s time for a pair of lower-profile candidates to make their first impressions. Former Boston Bruins head coach Mike Sullivan will interview for the Islanders head coach position on Monday and current Providence Bruins coach Scott Gordon will meet with Garth Snow on Wednesday.
John Tortorella had a long session on Long Island today, on the heels of detailed interviews by Snow of Paul Maurice and Bob Hartley. While Sullivan and Gordon are not as well-known as the first week’s trio, this is a wide-open race. Also expected to interview later this week are Marc Crawford and Gerard Gallant. The Islanders and Joel Quenneville should have a date locked up in the next few days. Larry Brooks had a sweet piece today on why Bryan Trottier should be strongly considered, but Bryan is not a candidate at this time and instead will remain in his role as executive director of player development.
My sense is that a week from tomorrow, two or three finalists will be lined up for a second and final round of meetings. You could have a final decision as early as Thursday, August 7, but the process could extend into the following week. To this former PR flak, an August 12 press conference looks good: Yankees in Minnesota, Mets in Washington, Favre’s destination already known. I would think a new Islanders coach would fill most of Newsday’s backpage the following day – big-name hire or not.
For those fans who still don’t believe their favorite sports teams listen to them, I present the latest evidence: Johan Santana pitched – and was encouraged by his manager to pitch – a complete game this afternoon. The Mets’ bullpen was worn out from last night, yes, but if you don’t think the media and fan outcry for Santana to go the distance didn’t result in him going out for the ninth inning today, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.
While no one's ready to brand it The Hockey Newsday, there are signs that Long Island's newspaper is starting to understand again that the NHL is loved by a lot of people in our fair region.
Or it could have something to do with the owners of the New York Rangers purchasing the newspaper.
Either way, no one's complaining. It's like when ESPN became partners with the Arena Football League and all of a sudden Dragons highlights started popping up on "Sportscenter." You don't ask questions.
The watershed moment of Newsday's recent uptick of hockey coverage wasn't the draft or even Greg Logan, Katie Strang and Steve Zipay staffing the Islanders' and Rangers' unofficial-not-mandatory-but-you-better-get-your-ass-to summer prospect camps. No, it was when Zip found his way to the Rangers' practice facility in Greenburgh to write a story on Marc Staal for Thursday's paper.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like Zipay lives in Logan or Alan Hahn country, off exit 60-something on the L.I.E. Still, the idea of Long Island's newspaper having room for a hockey story on July 24...well, it just makes the heart sing.
If it takes the Dolans buying Newsday for the quantity of hockey coverage to be returned to major league status, so be it. And as for any concerns that only space for the Rangers will increase, or that the Blueshirts will be the dominant team over the Islanders in the paper, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Everyone figures to benefit, especially the fans of both teams.
Now if we can only get Logan to be a maniacal blogger.
I have a different reaction than those who think the mix of Rick DiPietro and John Tortorella would be a disaster - albeit a wickedly entertaining disaster. I think the biggest reason Torts came to Long Island today with sincere interest in this gig is that, for all the Islanders may lack in the present, he knows in DiPietro he'd be starting with a first-level goaltender who's tough enough to play big in big games and tough enough to take his Parcellsian psyche jobs.
DiPietro and Tortorella know each other and like each other. There is mutual respect. I still wouldn't put my money on Tortorella getting the job - and I remain unsold that he's the best man for it - but it sure as hell is fun just thinking about the possibilities.