Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:There is no question Josh Bailey struggled in the 2013-14 season, but the Islander Head Coach Jack Capuano has not lost faith
in the 24-year-old forward. The Islander coach was asked during an interview with Islanders Insight.com about Bailey’s struggles last year and how the team was planning to help him take the next step in his development.
“As a coach I believe in these players and everybody is going to go through it,” Capuano said to Andy Graziano about Bailey’s struggles. “No matter what sport it is. You’re going to go through a tough stretch… When Josh is given the confidence and playing the way that he can play he can help our hockey club. I think it’s the past. I think Josh knows the second half of the year was good for him. Obviously he didn’t get off to the start that he wanted to and be consistent in the play that he wanted to. The potential is there, so as a coaching staff it’s our our goal and our job to make sure that we maximize each player’s potential.
“And I see Josh just growing as a player and getting better. I feel he’s going to have a much better year.”
Bailey did not have the year everyone was hoping for despite starting the season strong. In the first 12 games Bailey recorded eight points (four goals, four assists) before his point production plummeted off the map. He would go a span of 44-games, from October 25th to January 23rd, without a goal. Bailey would go another 14-games without finding the back of the net after that.
The centerman turned winger turned things around late in the year and finished the season with 38 points (eight goals, 30 assists).
Bailey’s struggles have certainly drawn the ire of Islander fans who have become increasingly frustrated with the former first round draft pick. Rushing Bailey into the NHL in 2008 has certainly hindered his development and he has struggled to gain traction — outside of stretches here and there. The Islanders have given him plenty of opportunities to develop into the player he has been expected, but he has not blossomed.
Bailey is his own toughest critic and you could see it on his face during the course of last season that he was frustrated with himself, and how he was performing.
The Islanders continued belief in Bailey has to be reassuring to him, but eventually the team will have to decide when is it time to cut the chord. In June rumors swirled that Bailey was on the trading block. That could have been a sign that the Islanders were thinking maybe it was time to give him a shot somewhere else or just leaving all their options open going into the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia.
Either way, this season Bailey will need to take the next step. The Islanders have several young promising forwards who will be looking to grab a spot in the lineup and this will be the first season that there will be a true competition for spots on Long Island. Bailey will need to pick up where he left off at the end of last season and continue it into 2014-15.
Bailey cannot let a strong start tapper off either. He needs to show he can be a constant contributor night in and night out, and he deserves a spot in the lineup.