It was a footnote toward the end of a shortened season that had taken a late turn toward resurrection: In the New York Islanders' April 16 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers, Jack Capuano grabbed his 82nd win as Islanders coach, giving him the second-highest total in franchise history.
Granted, the man he passed, Terry Simpson, lacked the benefit of shootout wins (and tact, some said) to amass more than his 81 wins, and Simpson coached only 187 Islanders games to Capuano's 195 (and counting). But the takeaway here is that Capuano has exhibited staying power that no other post-Arbour Isles coach has.
(The only other non-Arbour coach to coach more games than Simpson? Mike Milbury, whose 56 wins in 191 games, uh, don't quite measure up.)
Very quietly, and to the alarm of some fans who cursed his every use of Marty Reasoner, Capuano has climbed the list of active NHL coaching tenures while surviving some frustrating moments during the Isles' rebuild.
Around the league, there are several active NHL coaches who have been around longer than Capuano, but there aren't many who have a current tenure that predates his hiring by Garth Snow in November 2010.
|30||John Torotorella||Canucks||2013 - 25 June|
|29||Alain Vigneault||Rangers||2013 - 21 Jun|
|28||Dallas Eakins||Oilers||2013 - 10 Jun|
|27||Patrick Roy||Avalanche||2013 - 23 May|
|26||Lindy Ruff||Stars||2013 - 21 May|
|25||Jon Cooper||Lightning||2013 - 25 Mar|
|24||Ron Rolston||Sabres||2013 - 20 Feb|
|23||Adam Oates||Capitals||2012 - 26 Jun|
|22||Michel Therrien||Canadiens||2012 - 5 Jun|
|21||Bob Hartley||Flames||2012 - 31 May|
|20||Randy Carlyle||Leafs||2012 - 23 Mar|
|19||Todd Richards||Blue Jackets||2012 - 9 Jan|
|18||Darryl Sutter||Kings||2011 - 20 Dec|
|17||Bruce Boudreau||Ducks||2011 - 30 Nov|
|16||Kirk Muller||Hurricanes||2011 - 28 Nov|
|15||Ken Hitchcock||Blues||2011 - 6 Nov|
|14||Peter DeBoer||Devils||2011 - 19 Jul|
|13||Claude Noel||Jets||2011 - 24 Jun|
|12||Mike Yeo||Wild||2011 - 17 Jun|
|11||Paul MacLean||Senators||2011 - 14 Jun|
|10||Kevin Dineen||Panthers||2011 - 1 Jun|
|9||Jack Capuano||Islanders||2010 - 15 Nov|
|8||Peter Laviolette||Flyers||2009 - 4 Dec|
|7||Dave Tippett||Coyotes||2009 - 24 Sep|
|6||Dan Bylsma||Penguins||2009 - 15 Feb|
|5||Joel Quenneville||Blackhawks||2008 - 16 Oct|
|4||Todd McLellan||Sharks||2008 - 12 Jun|
|3||Claude Julien||Bruins||2007 - 21 Jun|
|2||Mike Babcock||Red Wings||2005 - 15 Jul|
|1||Barry Trotz||Predators||1997 - 6 Aug|
Even if you only count Capuano's tenure since getting the interim tag removed, he hangs on to that spot in the top third of the league of active tenures. All eight names above him are considered among the best in the business.
Another factoid that re-iterates how volatile this profession is: Eight of the other coaches have (or will have, come October) coached two different NHL teams during Capuano's tenure (Tortorella, Vaigneault, Ruff, Carlyle, Sutter, Boudreau, DeBoer, Richards).
In some ways, talking about a coach's lengthening tenure is the kiss of death, or at least a hint that a man's next prolonged losing streak could be his "tuned him out" last. For a coach to make it this far means expectations are rising, and failing to meet them only increases the pressure and questions.
Then there are the Trotzes and Ruffs of the world, who survive year after year without winning it all thanks to a strong working relationship with their GM and a general understanding that it still comes down to the 23 players on the roster more than the head man behind the bench.
Is that how it will go for Capuano? The vibe is upbeat around the team and within Capuano's tenure, though the wrong combo of injuries, slump and internal division can quickly change that in this league. But if they reach a scary spell in 2013-14, odds are they'll still look at themselves (or between the pipes) rather than at the man behind the bench.
If you expected this kind of tenure when Capuano was called up from Bridgeport back in 2010 ... you should probably be GM.