Sunday, August 10, 2008

Maurice or Gordon would be wonderful

Since the beginning of the hiring process – actually, to be completely honest: way before then – I have felt Paul Maurice was the perfect coach for this Islanders era. His NHL experience, his teaching ability and his communication skills with young and old hockey players, team staff, the media and the fans make Paul an ideal pick. After Maurice maintained his dignity through two ludicrous seasons in Toronto, I believed the Islanders would be extremely fortunate to have this good man and exceptional talent available just when they needed someone like him.

This opinion has not changed.

I don’t know the identity of the next Islanders coach. All of us now know the finalists – Maurice, Bob Hartley and Scott Gordon. The biggest story of this search is no longer the man named coach, but the man making the selection. Know this, Islanders fans - this will be 100% Garth Snow’s choice as head coach. That’s because this is now 100% Garth Snow’s roster and coaching staff.

In my view, he cannot go wrong with two of his finalists. Scott Gordon brings to the table many of Maurice’s best attributes. What he lacks in NHL experience – if he gets the gig, there will be a significant learning curve in dealing with everyone from Brendan Witt and Mike Comrie to bloggers at games and fans at Open Houses – Gordon does have one major advantage: a practiced dedication to defense. Associates of Gordon say he is obsessive about a defense-first attitude in his teams. With Rick DiPietro and a better-than-billed top 7 on D, Gordon’s commitment to goals-against makes him a very worthy candidate for the Islanders’ job.

Gordon’s history of getting the most out of his lineups with stingy-dirty team defense means Islanders scouts probably won’t have to bother looking at kids likely to go in the first five picks of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. On the other hand, the prospects Ryan Jankowski and Co. have already drafted would continue a proper education when they arrive on Long Island.

Oh yeah, and Gordon – an ex-goalie who loves his goalies – would also be DiPietro’s best chance for an annual GAA in the very low 2s and nomination for the Vezina.

One feels like a major hump saying that a head coach who’s won a Stanley Cup is not the right man, but that’s the way I honestly feel about Bob Hartley and this job. Hartley is a very good coach whose rep has taken some ridiculously unfair hits from his Atlanta experience, including a shameful cheapshot from a Calgary columnist without a clue or hint of dignity. It is simply that, knowing what I think I know about the kind of coach needed in this market, with this team and in these times, Hartley is not a fit.

If Hartley does not get the job, I would advise he spend one season as a top consultant and roving instructor with an NHL team – why not with his friend Snow at the Islanders? – and wait for the inevitable opening when a talented team needs a firmer hand that comes equipped with a Cup ring.

And if Hartley does become head coach, Garth rarely listened to me before so I wouldn’t expect him to start now. It would only cement the notion that this is Snow’s decision, Snow’s team.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the final 3 choices but, my feeling is that if we do end up with Gordon, it might just cause a revolt among some of the fans who will say "we're replacing Nolan with an AHL coach?" Things could then get a bit sticky. IMO I wouldn't mind seeing Gordon get the job but, I'd rather have Hartley and Maurcie as the #1 and #2 candidates and Gordon as the #3 guy. What I wouldn't mind seeing is say taking Hartley and then hire Gordon as one of the assistants.

While I'm not knocking this years draft picks, but, lets be honest, how many of the guys picked will be NHL players? PLUS, while it is great to play defense, we also need guys to put the puck in the net and the Islanders don't have that and that is why it just might be better to try landing a Taveres next year in the draft. Did Pittsburgh get to the Finals because of their defensive play or did they get to the finals because they had guys like Hossa, Crosby, and Malkin who could put the puck in the net? How about Detroit? While their defense was great they still had offensivly talented players like Zetterberg and Datysuk, etc etc. Nolan's approach was, "Grit wins over talent," and I think that cost him because you need talent to win. Our Islander Dynasty won because they had grit BUT, most importantly they had TALENT who could score. How about those Oiler teams as well?

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7th Woman said...

Actually, Garth told one attendee Saturday that I was his choice for head coach. Ok, it didn't go over well, but it was pretty funny.

Great article as usual, but your last two sentences made me laugh so hard I woke the dog. Nope, I can't imagine Garth is the type of man that listens to anyone but himself. But I'll trust and see where it goes. (I'l light a candle that he does agree with you and tags Maurice. Hey, Garth... there's cookies in it for you if you do!)

Isle Insider said...

What Scares me the most is when you say this is Garth Snows Team 100%. Where does his Knowledge of being a GM come from. I'll be optimistic and give him a chance, however the lack of a savy GM bothers me and if it all does not pan out we already have our excuse!
Thanks for the great work Chris

Anonymous said...

It just better be soon. Garth isn't leaving much time to prepare for camp.

lijames said...

Why does it seem like we always have to be taking a chance on the next up and comer?? I'm sure any of the 3 will work well but I too hope a choice is made soon with training camp being 40 days away. I'm also not liking that the coach has to seemingly keep on the old asst. coachs.

Love your insight though Chris, keep it coming!

Sal Paradiso said...

Chris,
Great article. I have Garth pegged for taking Hartley, but to be honest I think any of the final 3 will and can be a good fit. Knowing up front that the team has a plan I think any of the 3 can be successful as long as they can motivate the players. Each of the three finalist know we are rebuilding so they won't be expecting to win NOW, but maybe we can turn a few heads with the kids. Keep up the great work! I am a long time reader, I look forward to more entries in the future. Come take a look at my blog if you get a chance at:

http://floridaislesfan.blogspot.com/

Sal

Magnus said...

I think we could go on and on about who's the most fit for the job. In the end it's a matter of entirety. Everything must glue together perfectly and the personal chemistry will be crucial if this team are going to make wonders.
And frankly, which blend is to prefer? No one could ever know at this point.
All we can do is speculate, and you do it damn good!

Acards said...

Gordon is our man now. I have to say i like this. We have a new era starting on the Island and to me it's like a breath of fresh air.

7th Woman said...

Always full of surprises, the NY Islanders. Welcome to Long Island Scott Gordon. It's going to be more than a learning "curve", it's more like a vertical drop.

Doug Davidson said...

Aww be nice Dee they haven't even introduced him yet! LOL!