To say I was expecting this would be a tremendous understatement. For the past two weeks I have been saying how we will not be seeing Nolan behind the bench to begin this season. There have been too many problems encompassing our poor Islanders this off-season, and now we've reached the pinnacle.
For a long time now, we have seen this tremendous (and public) debacle that is Garth Snow vs. Ted Nolan. While Garth Snow, Ted Nolan, and Charles Wang all came together in the summer of 2007 in order to try and put together a team to compete, that plan has backfired tremendously. Regardless of the fact that it is extremely hard to lure high end talent to the run down Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the three heads of our team brought in players that were just not meant to overachieve. I say overachieve for the simple fact that all three (Nolan, Snow, Wang) were banking on the idea that if these players were to overachieve; we could sneak into the playoffs. Without those players over achieving, we were just another bottom feeder team in the N.H.L, as was proven at the end of this past season. Although in the summer of 2007 the committee may have been together on the same idea, they seem to have fallen apart entirely.
The lines of communication between Garth Snow and Charles Wang seem to be working tremendously well. It seems as if Garth Snow is now in full control of this team, and one hundred percent able to call the shots without the interference of Charles Wang. (Almost makes you wonder what would have happened if Neil Smith was given the same freedom to call the shots without the interference of Wang) Meanwhile, Ted Nolan seems to have missed out on the phone call that said the committee had been dissolved. It seems almost as if Ted Nolan signed onto the situation because of the equal say he would have with the general manager and the owner, only to become discontent when he was put into his spot as a coach, when Garth Snow finally decided to be in a position of power as the general manager, and when Wang allowed the general manager to run the operations as he pleased. I am sorry to break it to you Ted, but most teams run their organizations just like this. The coach coaches, the general manager manages, and the owner just over looks everything to make sure his team is getting better. It seems to be this power-struggle that cost Ted his job.
First and foremost, I can understand Ted was brought in to coach and he did a phenomenal job. He is a great motivational coach, and he turned the 2006 to 2007 New York Islanders into a playoff team when they had no business being there in the first place. As for this year, he had the Islanders in playoff contention all the way up until well past the All Star Break, only to watch injuries riddle the entire team and his make shift A.H.L line-up falter to high powered N.H.L teams. To be honest, however, I enjoyed watching these A.H.L line ups falter more so than watching the so called N.H.L line up we had during the season only manage to score one goal per game. Back to the point, however, this years team had no business even sniffing playoff contention from game one to game eighty two considering the tremendous lack of offensive talent. So to say Ted Nolan is a good coach is an understatement in itself. He can truly coach, motivate a team that is half as talented as their opponent, and he brings a certain edge to every team he coaches. He does deserve to be in the N.H.L as a coach, and he has proved that time and time again. However, he also has his downfalls!
His first downfall, and something that seems to stick in my mind horribly, is his reluctance to use the young guns. Players such as Comeau, Okposo, Tambellini, and Nielsen deserved to be getting more ice team than they were given. When the season is lost, or you can see that it is on its way to being completely lost, the only reasonable thing to do is start looking towards next year. Give the kids some power play time, give them some penalty killing time, give them extra five on five time, anything to help them get a bigger bite out of the N.H.L game. No, instead, we saw Hilbert used on the power play and moved up to first line duties. It is completely unreasonable to send out a perennial 8 goal scorer on the power play when you have young kids who can light up the minors, and are dying for that chance to show their worth at the N.H.L level. Give me a break, Ted! Hilbert wont be anything more than a third to fourth liner at best whos biggest asset is his great ability to kill penalties. Other than that, 999 out of 1000 coaches would have played the kids over the so called veterans we have on this team.
Second, as I stated before, coaches should coach and managers should manage. It was completely unreasonable for Nolan to think that he should be able to have the same say that Snow does. Do me a favor, I would like anyone who reads this article to go into work tomorrow and tell your boss that you feel you should have the same amount of authority they do. If he grants you permission, I will personally allow you to publicly stone me as they did back in the 15th century. (Of course this doesnt count if you are your own boss!). Nolan should have not been there to give his input regarding players that were brought in to play this season, just like he should not have been present at the draft other than for the picture with the new first round selection. Nolans job should have been to look at the players Garth gave him, coach them to the best of his ability, and hope that he pleased Garth Snow, and even more so, Charles Wang. There was no reason for Nolan to call out Snow on the comments made about Wade Dubielewicz. There was no reason for Nolan to make any public comments about Snow and his job. As has been stated in several articles throughout the internet, it was almost as if Ted Nolan was approaching every subject with the mindset of, Im going to do it this way, if you dont like it, than fire me! It was as if he wanted to remain, but could care less if he was going to be fired. It was just inappropriate for him to try to speak at an even level with his boss. Nolan brought about his own demise in a sense, and I am sure it is visible to many Islanders players and fans.
Thirdly, and what I find extremely difficult to swallow as well, is that it seems many players started to run into problems with Nolan at the end of the year. If I recall, the reason Laviolette was fired was because he lost many lines of communication in the locker room. It seems that this time around, Nolan had begun to lose many players. One player went as far to calling Nolan a liar, and even calling him out in a meeting in front of Garth Snow and Charles Wang. This is completely inappropriate for any professional sports team! Hence the reason, the New York Islanders are deemed the laughingstock time and time again. We must stop airing out our dirty laundry as we have done so often in the past and again today. We have to learn that we must nip problems in the butt before they become too large, and other organizations and the fans begin to find out about them. It is the only way to save face, and the proper way to go about business in professional sports. Furthermore, when you see your captain go ahead and say, You move on, it almost makes you feel as if Guerin could care less if Nolan is there or not. When the captain is able to take the news that easily and dismiss it, it must be a pretty easy pill to swallow from the point of view of the other players on the roster.
I want to make a point once more and say that I am not a Ted Nolan hater. I do believe he is a great coach. I just am happy that this day to day drama is over, and there is finally closure to the story. Nolan was not ready to coach a rebuilding team, and that is what we are. Garth Snow has made a bold decision, and I am looking forward to seeing where it leads. He is in the hot seat now, and he has the job of selecting an appropriate coach to not only develop this young group of players, but to also take them to places we havent even sniffed since the 1992 to 1993 season.
As always, opinions and comments are extremely appreciated!