The New York Islanders have fired Head Coach Scott Gordon and named Jack Capuano as interim coach. Capuano has been serving as the head man with the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Gordon will remain in the Islander organization as a special advisor to the general manager.
The final straw for Islanders GM Garth Snow was the team’s current 10-game winless streak which saw them go 0-9-1.
“No one likes to lose 10 games in a row and the fact is, we have,” Snow said in a conference call with reporters earlier today. “Something needed to change. It wasn’t a decision that came easy but at the end of the day, we lost 10 in a row and something had to give.”
Gordon joined the Islanders organization just prior to the 2008-09 season. He compiled a 64-94-23 mark with the club in a little more than two seasons. The team was devastated by injuries in his first year behind the bench and finished last overall in the league. In 2009-10, the Isles improved their record by 18 points but still missed the playoffs.
The Islanders lost two of their key players, defenseman Mark Streit and forward Kyle Okposo, to serious shoulder injuries during training camp this September. Neither has played a game this season. After a 4-1-2 start, the losing streak has once again left the Islanders with the league’s worst record.
“We believe we need a change in direction and, with the majority of the regular season still ahead of us, our goal remains to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Snow said. “Scott has made tremendous strides with our team the past three seasons and I look forward to continuing our relationship in an advisory capacity.”
Capuano will be behind the bench when the Isles host the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum. He has a 133-100-8-14 record as coach of the Sound Tigers. This will be his first NHL head coaching job although he was an assistant with the Islanders in 2005-06.
“For me, with Jack there is a certain comfort in knowing that he’s familiar with the head-coaching day-to-day responsibilities and decisions,” Snow said. “Also knowing that the has the familiarity with this team whether it be from training camp or players playing for him in Bridgeport, all those were ingredients that factored into the decision.”
Right now, Capuano has an interim label. He will certainly need to help turn things around quickly if he is to become the club’s permanent head coach. Snow did not indicate when a final decision would be made about Capuano’s status.