Since November 15, 2010, Jack Capuano has been the New York Islanders head coach, albeit with a word transitional in nature before the title. But today, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow announced his decision to remove the "interim" title, reaffirming that Capuano would return next year.
“Jack is our head coach,” Snow said. “He’s done an excellent job and I think he’s the right coach for this team. Anyone that has watched our season, it’s almost the tale of two seasons. Jack, I thought, I had a big role in getting the best out of this group.”
When Capuano made his National Hockey League head coaching debut on Nov. 17, he was a veteran in the coaching world, but by all standards, he was a NHL rookie (much like the majority of his blue line by the end of the 2010-11 season).
Despite not having the same credentials as some of his counterparts, Capuano made the most of his first season – vowing never to change his personality, his values or work ethic.
“The one thing about me is, I’m not going to change who I am,” Capuano said. “My personality it is what it is… Communication is the biggest skill that you can have with your players, so I haven’t really changed my coaching style from the American League (AHL) to the National League and it’s something that I’m not going to do.”
That mantra gave the Islanders young core of players something to believe in and over the course of the season, their on-ice personalities flourished.
On Sunday, during the team’s break down day, Islanders power forward Blake Comeau said, “I think (the coaching change) just brought it in a different feel around the locker room. Cappy (Capuano) is the type of guy that lets guys be more creative. He’s a passionate guy. He expects guys to play hard. I think that’s the way it should be.”
His teammate, Micheal Haley
, added, “Being with Cappy (Capuano) for four years, not only the comfort level that I have with him, but that he has with me. I’ve played for him so he can put me in situations that normally I wouldn’t be in. He has faith in me to do stuff. It’s been great for me to come up and not have to get used to a new coach or new systems.”
As the team’s confidence grew, so did their win record. Capuano made his debut in the midst of one of the worst winless streaks in team history and was tasked with turning the season around. Right after Capuano took the reigns, the team posted a 1-8-2 record, but that wouldn’t last.
After their rough patch, Capuano led the Islanders to a 25-21-8 record in their last 54 games of the season, making the Islanders one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 15. And since the All-Star Break, the coach went above .500 with a 15-12-6 record.
“I think everybody comes out with a lot of life (after a coaching change),” Islanders captain Doug Weight said on Sunday. “I think over two weeks time or three weeks or four weeks, you can start seeing if the coach is getting responded to.”
Weight continued, “They like his positivity and his reinforcement, his simplistic system. Simplistic just means it’s basic. We have two or three of everything. We know what we’re doing. We’re in good shape. It fits our game well and I think it has been a great response to this point.”
Thus, Snow isn’t the only member of the Islanders franchise who has complete confidence in Capuano’s ability to lead this team into the future, but all of this positivity only makes him all that much more certain in his decision to revoke interim from Capuano’s title.
“Jack took over a team that really lacked in confidence,” Snow said. “I thought he did a tremendous job communicating with the players. One of the reasons I thought it was such a good fit at the time was the familiarity that Jack (Capuano) had with most of the players in our locker room.”
Snow continued, “He really took over a team that was down in the dumps emotionally, mentally and I thought he did an excellent job getting the best out of our players. You could see it in the way our team played from December on.”
Overall, Capuano led the Islanders to a 26-29-10 record.