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Struggling Islanders dismiss Gordon as coach

Monday, 11.15.2010 / 12:16 PM / News

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Struggling Islanders dismiss Gordon as coach
Hoping to save a ship sinking in a 10-game winless streak, New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow on Monday relieved coach Scott Gordon of his duties.

Jack Capuano was promoted from AHL Bridgeport to replace Gordon, who has been shifted into an advisory role on Snow's staff. Assistant coaches Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen will remain on the bench.

"Scott has done an excellent job but we were in an unfortunate situation where we had 10 losses in a row and a change needed to be made," Snow said during a conference call to announce the move.

The Islanders started the season 4-1-2, but haven't won since back-to-back overtime victories in Toronto and Tampa Bay on Oct. 18 and Oct. 21. Since then, they've gone 0-9-1, and have scored just 14 goals in their 10 losses.

"I think the biggest issue with our team is confidence," said Snow. "We've got to establish that swagger we had earlier in the season. We have a young group of players, a good mix of veterans. Our focus right now is to win a hockey game Wednesday and get this ship turned around."

Snow's decision came after a three-game swing through California that saw the Isles go 0-2-1.

"It was not from a lack of effort," Gordon told Newsday. "At the end of the day, it didn't happen and sometimes that's the way it plays out. I don't second-guess myself in how I did or what I did."

Gordon told the newspaper he didn't blame Snow for removing him from the bench.

"Whenever you're in a situation that we were in -- not having won 10 games -- you can very easily expect the unexpected," said Gordon. "I enjoyed working with Garth and Charles (Wang, owner) -- they've been great to me. I'm always going to remember that as my first opportunity. As someone who had no NHL head coaching experience, I'll forever be appreciative of that."

Gordon inherited one of the younger teams in the League when he was hired prior the start of the 2008-09 season. The Islanders finished with a League-worst 61 points, but last season improved to 79 points.

Despite being without top-six forward Kyle Okposo and top defenseman Mark Streit, more positives were seen at the beginning of this season, but that all went away with their disastrous 10-game stretch.

The Islanders are averaging 2.18 goals per game, 29th in the League, and their 11 points are the fewest in the Eastern Conference and tied for fewest in the League.

"For me, when we're in a situation that we're in right now, we've lost 10 games in a row, sometimes you have to go with your gut and make decisions that are tough," said Snow.

Snow went out of his way to speak highly of the job Gordon did in developing the Islanders' younger players, including John Tavares and Josh Bailey. Tavares, in his second season, has 10 points in 14 games but is a minus-12. Bailey, in his third season, had 3 goals and 6 points in his first five games, but has yet to score since. The team's leading scorer is defenseman James Wisniewski, who has 13 points in 15 games, but is a minus-12.
"I think the biggest issue with our team is confidence. We've got to establish that swagger we had earlier in the season. We have a young group of players, a good mix of veterans. Our focus right now is to win a hockey game Wednesday and get this ship turned around." -- Islanders' GM Garth Snow
"Scott did an excellent job in not only those two players, but with the development of all of our young players," said Snow. "He has a knack for getting the best out of not only the John Tavareses and Josh Baileys, but the veterans like James Wisniewski, right on down the line."

The Islanders' next game will be Wednesday at home against the Lightning, and behind the bench for the first time as NHL coach will be Capuano.

Capuano was in his fourth season as coach in Bridgeport, where he guided the Sound Tigers to one playoff appearance and two 40-win seasons in his three full seasons.

Snow opted for Capuano ahead of a more experienced candidate because of Capuano's familiarity with the players.

"I think having a coach like Jack Capuano, who has a familiarity with the players who have been in our system through Bridgeport and taken part in our training camp here," said Snow. "I can take comfort in that there doesn't have to be a feeling-out process for the players. He knows our players -- that familiarity, to me, made it the best fit for us."

Gordon said whether Capuano retains the job long-term or another coach takes over, they'll be getting a solid group of players.

"As a team, this is a great group of kids that are good people and enjoyable to work with," said Gordon. "There isn't a guy on the team that you wouldn't want to work with. Whoever coaches the team down the road will reap the benefits."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
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