NOW we're ready for camp

Al-riiiiight. The Islanders, having discovered later than anyone else this summer that they were in need of a new coach, persevered and found a sound choice in their new general.

They certainly could have done worse than last year's AHL coach of the year. And considering the backup catchers and role players of the world are often the observant fellows who make astute coaches later on, I'm not a bit disappointed to realize new Islanders coach Scott Gordon is that Scott Gordon -- one of the poor saps who tended goal for the dearly departed Quebec Nordiques when they were dredging the bottom of the NHL in search of 31-point seasons and bounties named Sundin, Nolan, and Lindros-er-Forsberg and Friends.

At my old stomping ground, I audited the "retread" candidates for the Isles job who had established NHL careers. From that analysis, I found I desired none of them. Those who think Joel Quenneville would have been the right pick for this team, ah, well, they weren't season ticket holders for the Blues during his time in St. Louis, and they might even be columnists who only follow the Isles when they draw the short straw. That's not a knock against "Coach Q" [note: it may be a knock against eat-and-run columnists]; it's just a relatively sober analysis of the man and the team at stake.

So, since I liked none of the above, you may count me as one of the fans of the Gordon hiring. He's respected, he and Garth Snow hit it off, and he gives them as good a chance as any to grow together and provide the continuity that the Islanders have not known since Al Arbour's (amen) first tenure with the team. He's also likely to jibe with the guy who's tied to the franchise for 15 years, which is no small concern.

Of concern: a) he wasn't allowed to pick his own staff (it seems all assistants will be retained, although that could help him with the NHL transition), and b) he's going to play a tight defensive system, which while arguably necessary will not make for exciting firewagon hockey.

But besides Isles-centric concerns, it will be interesting to watch how the latest NFL-esque copycat trend of hiring "young" (ha!) first-time NHL coaches works out. [Next trend: hire winning offensive coordinators!] Who will become the "brilliant hire" and who will become the one who "just couldn't relate to players at this level"? For the armchair GM's, we'll get to watch John Anderson in Atlanta, golden child Peter DeBoer in Florida, Todd McLellan in San Jose, and now Scott Gordon on the Island.

May the best former Nordique win.

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