It was undoubtedly a tough day at Iceworks when the news came down that Scott Gordon had been reassigned and that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Jack Capuano had been named interim head coach of the New York Islanders.
In light of the Islanders current 10 game losing streak, management has made the decision to promote Capuano to fill the role as interim head coach of the Islanders. Scott Gordon will remain with the organization as an adviser to General Manager Garth Snow.
“Having a coach like Jack Capuano that has a familiarity with our players not only in our system through Bridgeport, but from taking part in our training camps here, there’s a comfort because there doesn’t need to be a feeling out process with our players,” Snow said. “He knows our players and that familiarity to me made it seem like the best fit at this point.”
This will not be Capuano’s first stint behind the Islanders bench. He served as an assistant coach during the 2005-06 season before becoming the head coach the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate.
|Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano on the bench coaching the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate. |
In three years as Bridgeport’s head coach, Capuano led the Sound Tigers to a 133-100-8-14 record, including a team best 49 wins during the 2008-09 season. His record brings confidence in Snow’s opinion, especially since Capuano has coached 10 players on the Islanders current roster including Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen
and Matt Martin
“He’s helped guide a team that had a record of 49 wins two years ago in Bridgeport,” said Snow. “We have a young group there as well where we’re in a mode to develop and he’s done an excellent job in that area. For me, it’s a good fit.”
But as he tries to inspire his players to turn the club’s record around, having the opportunity to coach the Islanders is a little bittersweet.
“Scott (Gordon) and I were close, even before the Islanders we coached in the ECHL together, so I’ve known him a long time,” said Capuano. “It’s not the ideal situation, but at the same time I have an opportunity now that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’ll do whatever I can to help these guys try to get back in the playoff picture, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
Capuano thought his first day at practice went well, adding that the players were very approachable. During their morning meeting, he told the players that there are “controllable and uncontrollable circumstances” and right now, the Islanders are the ones in control of their future.
“Right now, that’s our work ethic and passion and trust in one another,” Capuano said. “I just wanted to explain to them that there could be some minor tweaks. They were very receptive to the meeting this (Monday) morning.”
Islanders captain Doug Weight met with the media and made no excuses for the team’s current situation, saying that management had to make the change to shake things up and it was not solely the fault of Gordon. Instead, what happens next is the hands of the players on the ice.
“Cappy (Capuano) is coming in here with a great mindset,” said Weight. “It’s a new start. It’s a fresh beginning for all of the guys on the team. It’s up to us to take advantage of this opportunity to play and have this fresh feeling. We have to win some hockey games, enough of the excuses or whatever has been going on. We are starting new and hopefully Wednesday begins with a win.”
Despite the coaching change, Capuano only plans to simplify a few areas of the Islanders system and doesn’t want to shake things up too much by planning a complete revamp of the same system he used in Bridgeport.
“I think the coaches here have done a real good job with structure,” said Capuano. “I think that’s the one thing Scott (Gordon) did when he first got here; played a lot more structured hockey than we’ve played in the past. Obviously, there’s a few tweaks that we’ll make. But for the most part, it’s not going to be a major overhaul, especially right off the bat.”
Although, Weight said small changes were made immediately.
“We changed a lot of things today,” said Weight. “Simplistic things, but things I think some guys are having trouble with. Cappy (Capuano) came out and simplified our game a little bit. We need to use our speed and put the puck in good spots and our systems aim towards to all of that. You have to rely on your defense to make some plays from time to time. I think we’ve made some changes that some of the guys are excited about.”
The Islanders will continue with one more day of practice before Capuano makes his debut as interim head coach on Wednesday. In light of the change, assistant coaches Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen will remain on staff in their current capacities. In Capuano's absence, Sound Tigers assistant coach Pat Bingham will assume head coaching duties.