New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow is feeling the heat, interim coach Doug Weight is coaching to determine the next step in his career, and the franchise will be evaluating everything heading into summer — and the start of captain John Tavares’ re-signing window — in the wake of the firing of Jack Capuano.
Those and other thoughts were covered on NHL Network when Arthur Staple, beatwriter for Newsday and the reporter following the team the closest, appeared in the hours after the firing.
Watch the clip here:
Staple also referenced attempts to shake up the roster well before the firing, such as inquiries made for Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, but of course moves are hard in season and the Avalanche have reportedly asked a king’s ransom for their captain or for Tavares’ draft classmate Matt Duchene.
Elsewhere in media covering the firing on Tuesday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman again posited his theory that the Islanders ownership and management banked a lot last summer on being able to lure Steven Stamkos via free agency, a push (unconfirmed, but all signs point to...) that Friedman thinks inadvertently led to their slow pace in talks with free agent Frans Nielsen, who has said he didn’t entertain the idea of leaving until that final-week window gave other teams the chance to come calling.
Of course, as things stand on Jan. 17, the day of Capuano’s firing, all three teams in the Islanders’ big summer free agency decisions are hurting: Nielsen’s Red Wings, Kyle Okposo’s Buffalo Sabres and Andrew Ladd’s New York Islanders are 14-15-16 at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
But what about now?
One thing left unspoken during Snow’s conference call with media Tuesday afternoon, and another reason to make the move now: This season is essentially a loss. Just as he did after the Scott Gordon firing six years ago, on Tuesday Snow said the focus now must be on the next game, the next few games, the homestand, getting some wins, etc.
But the reality is even a great homestand wouldn’t change their prospects for 2016-17 much. They’re too far down and the Metro’s best teams are too good.
True, there is mathematically time and half a season for the team to go on a glorious run back into the playoff picture, but it’s difficult to see that happening given the underlying numbers that have indicated the team is deservedly in last place.
Are they the worst roster in the East? Probably not. But a major turnaround — say, like Mike Sullivan taking over an outstanding but poorly deployed Penguins roster — would likely require a completely new voice and, well, a better roster than they have.
So now...evaluation mode. For everyone.