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Schrodinger’s Islanders: After Capuano fired, so many possibilities in the box

Firing the coach was the easy first move. From here, the possibilities are many and complicated.

Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders
Where to next?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Schrodinger’s Cat: A famous thought experiment about different options . A cat is in a box. It may be alive or it may be dead. As long as the box is unopened, both possibilities exist. Once the box is opened, those possibilities collapse into one reality.

The New York Islanders: An infamous thought experiment about how much misery a fanbase can endure while hoping the future will be better.

On Jan. 17, 2017. The New York Islanders fired Jack Capuano. On Jan. 19, 2017, the team will play its first game with interim coach Doug Weight. For one day, the box remains closed.

Islander fans were overjoyed when Jack Capuano was relieved of his duties. The fanbase, always divided on a variety of things, were united in this one desire. Now, what the fans want get more complicated. There exist a myriad of possibilities:

What some fans want: The Draft Choice

The rationale: In an NHL era where it seems that young players rule, having elite young talent is a prerequisite for long-term success. And while canny trades and signings always help, the best way to get this talent is to draft it, preferably as high as possible. To that end, it is beneficial to finish as close to the bottom of the league as possible, to try to maximize odds of getting an elite player.

How this happens: Despite claims that there may be minor tweaks to the system, either Weight makes no discernable changes, or the changes he makes have no effect on the team routinely getting out-possessed.

Jean-Francois Berube plays more, and proves himself to be below replacement-level. Greiss either regresses, or his current play isn’t enough to elevate the team’s fortunes. They finish near the bottom of the standings.

What some fans want: For the Franchise

The rationale: This team’s priority must be John Tavares and doing everything possible to get him to stay. The best way to have that happen is a strong second-half performance and a playoff spot.

How this happens: The tweaks Weight makes to the system are massively successful. The Islanders are able to enter the opposition’s zone better, stand up at the blue line, and play a game more suitable for modern NHL hockey. Either underperforming players like Jason Chimera are benched in favor of better players like Anthony Beauvillier, or the new system helps the team as a whole realize its potential.

Berube plays well, and Greiss continues his impressive netminding. The team goes on a roll, a few of the teams they’re chasing luckily fall out of the race, and the Isles sneak into a playoff spot.

What some fans want: An Established Coach

The rationale: Doug Weight has no NHL experience and is reflective of the poor management this franchise has had. The Isles need an established coach to come in right now and whip them into shape.

How it happens: The team, having talked to Gerard Gallant, hires him quickly. Alternatively, Claude Julien is fired from the Bruins in the near future, and the Isles pick him up.

What some fans want: A Whole New World (STATS edition)

The rationale: Part of the issue with this front office was they were too behind-the- times. We need smart people who think outside the box and challenge the status quo. Look at Toronto!

How it happens: Either Weight’s adjustments aren’t successful, or the team does better but not well enough to make the playoffs. Ledecky hires a new President of Hockey Ops who cleans house. They decide to go in a new-school analytically-inclined direction, bringing more advanced stats people into the org.

What some fans want: A Whole New World (EXP edition)

The rationale: Part of the issue with the front office was they lacked actual hockey experience. We need a GM who has done it before and knows their stuff. Look at Los Angeles!

How it happens: Either Weight’s adjustments aren’t successful, or the team does better but not well enough to make the playoffs. Ledecky hires a new president of Hockey Ops who cleans house. He decides to hire a GM who is more old-school, and who has done the job before. Alternatively, the president and new GM may be one and the same.

What some fans want: Continued Winter

The rationale: Snow made some flaws this offseason but he’s still a decent GM. He just needs someone to watch over him.

How it happens: Either the team makes the playoffs or ownership decides the coaching is the major concern. The new president of Hockey Ops keeps Snow on board as GM, and they work together on roster changes and finding a new coach.

A myriad of potential possibilities. Tomorrow, the Isles take the ice and we’ll see what the new changes bring. Today, any of these options are possible. Tomorrow, the box opens.