With two matinees on tap and injuries still the rule, it will be a busy weekend and a good chance to peek at the Islanders youngsters who will have greater roles in the years to come. But about that long-term Islanders redevelopment project: How's it going?
As he never hesitates to do, Gordon credited the coaching of Jack Capuano and his staff at Bridgeport. “I think we’re around 39, 40 players that have been in our lineup at one point this season,” said the Islanders coach. “Whenever we get a player from the Sound Tigers, I never have anything to worry about. They’re conditioned, taught in the system. The link between the two teams has been outstanding.”
Chris Botta doesn't explicitly say it, but he closed today's entry with that little Gordon/Capuano tidbit for a reason. His subtext is a gentle reminder that Scott Gordon was brought in to do something that Ted Nolan either didn't or wouldn't do: Be the in-game leader for a strategic makeover of the entire portfolio of Islanders player assets, from the NHL on down.
The Garth Snow/Scott Gordon Pact
The deal: Garth Snow will do his best to stock the system with picks and prospects; Gordon will use his development skills to bring those prospects along and employ them in an aggressive, entertaining system that would be replicated at AHL Bridgeport. The goal is to have more NHL-ready players than you have openings, and when openings do arrive those AHL players are ready to step right in. As Botta tipped back in October, Nolan wasn't exactly into that part of the job.
Scott Gordon so clearly is into that, and he obviously doesn't mind stepping on some veteran toes to make it happen. One happy short-term result is we're now getting a vivid look at the progress of players like Jack Hillen and Jesse Joensuu, who have spent much of the year in the AHL -- and look noticeably different than they did in September.
Gordon's been using the kids more since Day 1 of this season. But the injury-laden December swoon and the trade deadline helped force veterans to face the inevitable or get out of the way. Year One of the true rebuild is in effect.
The effectiveness of Gordon's "overspeed" in a playoff game is a debate for another year, with another roster -- one capable of getting there. But as for the matter of assembling and nurturing these parts into a unified team concept in preparation for the roster that will? Each week I get the growing sense that Snow chose the right man for the job.