It isn’t official yet but it has been reported almost everywhere (Botta, Staple, others) that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson will become an Islanders assistant coach sometime this summer. Thompson will join assistant Doug Weight and head coach Jack Capuano behind the bench next season. Thompson helps to fill part of the void left by Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen.
This isn’t a surprise if you’ve been following along, as this idea has been floated since Allen and Chynoweth were let go at the end of the season. What we now have is a very curious Islanders bench staff. You’ve got Capuano, whose leash may be a bit shortened after a subpar 2011-12 campaign, and what amounts to two head coaches in waiting standing on either side of him. It’s an odd situation and one that has been setup by the GM, not the head coach. The previous HC Scott Gordon spent time with his predecessor’s hand picked assistants for about a year before bringing in his own (Allen and Chynoweth). For better or worse, it seems as though Capuano is not being afforded that same opportunity, and may even be sharing the bench with his successor, whomever that ends up being.
It’s been tossed around that Doug Weight, given a failure by Capuano, could be the next bench boss if he wants the job. Thompson, with an impressive showing in Bridgeport after one season, could also be in the mix should Capuano slip.
I’m sure we’ll hear many times on MSG this season about how Thompson knows Player X from Bridgeport, and that will help Player X develop on Long Island. While there is certainly truth in statements like that, you have to seriously wonder if the organization would be better served with Thompson spending at least one more year in Bridgeport. With an exceptional amount of players coming up in the system over the next few years, having a successful coach in Bridgeport could help prepare those players for LI. Brock Nelson and John Persson were just two players who got their first pro opportunity at the end of 2012 in Bridgeport under Thompson and there will be more in the year(s) to come.
One year removed from the ECHL in Alaska, Thomspon led the Sound Tigers to a brilliant second half run that saw them reel off a steak of 16 wins in 18 games after New Year’s and blaze their way to a division title. Obviously, that’s a coach who knows what he’s doing. But maybe he and the organization would be better served with another year in Bridgeport? As these young players come up to the Island, it’ll be great to have a familiar face who knows how to coach them waiting for them but after only a year (and in depending on the player, less than that), those kinds off connections could be overblown by fans and media alike. Or maybe this is all a reward for a job well done as Long Island gets an influx of young talent (Donovan? Poulin? Ness?) this fall. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.