Welcome to The Big Review, an occasional segment during the Olympic break. Here’s how it works. I write about a subject, provide some background, give my opinion. Then you do the same. One comment – 150 words or less – per reader. Stay on the subject. Bring the detested “You guys don’t know anything about hockey” or any variation, and…well, see you around.
In the 38-year history of the New York Islanders, only one man has served as head coach for three consecutive complete seasons. Al Arbour did it twice. No one – not Terry Simpson, Peter Laviolette, Ted Nolan or anyone else - survived three full years. Only Simpson made it to a third training camp.
Anyone craving stability will be happy to know that in 2010-11 Scott Gordon will be back.
No matter how the Islanders complete the final 20 games of this regular season, there is little doubt whether Gordon will stay. In the summer of 2008, Garth Snow went in search of a coach he could keep around a long time. The general manager wanted a coach who would instill a system of play and teach as young players were added to the roster. There is a reason there haven’t been any lineup-busting, 3-for-3 trades, and won’t be.
You wanted patience in the Country, you got it.
A move away from Gordon in the offseason would be an uncharacteristic step back for the “program,” like trading a core young player. Snow has invested a lot in Gordon’s development as an NHL coach. The core kids – led by Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and young dmen Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald – have been schooled in the Gordon way.
A coaching change would make little sense. When you consider Bob Hartley is the main man in Snow’s bullpen, a change is potentially disastrous.
Gordon is not perfect. (As Islanders fans know, only one man is…Arbour, of course). At some point soon, Gordon needs to raise the bar on expectations for his team. Talking about solid performances when the Islanders lose seven in a row in regulation has to stop.
With so many worthy candidates during the course of this season, the entry to the coach’s doghouse has been curiously narrow. Gordon’s willingness to be flexible – like most good coaches, he has a stubborn streak – might be the difference in whether he just makes it to a fourth year or whether he becomes the Islanders’ Barry Trotz and Lindy Ruff.
Gordon will be the Islanders’ head coach at the start of next season. The view here: he deserves to be. He is talented, determined, focused, dilligent and hard-working. Also keep in mind that after the bizarre decision in 2008-09 to stick the first-year coach with Ted Nolan’s assistants, this is Gordon’s first season with his own coaching staff.
Although Snow said publicly last month that he had expectations for this season, the manager has not given the coach a contending roster – not even close. Together, Snow and Gordon have to develop one. This has been the plan all along.
The coach stays. Anything else would be a crock.
Should he be retained? Your review of Scott Gordon – just one per reader – is welcomed in Comments.