With the summer coming to a close (as much as I want hockey season back, I hope this next month moves like a glacier) the Islanders are working hard to fill the vacancy left by Ted Nolan's removal.
The potential candidates have been mentioned constantly in the media. I am confident in who I think should be the next one to take the bench, but the list is filled with many who seem qualified, while others not so much to the eyes of fans.
The first thing I feared when Ted Nolan was fired was that Trots would be the next head coach behind the bench. Considering he's been head of player development and with Bossy and others back in the fold due to the team's notorious decision making skills for rewarding from within (Neil Smith + 41 days = Garth Snow), I thought it would be announced immediately. However the paper has shot down the possibility of a lame duck coach such as Trots, with Bryan himself coming out and stating that he does not want to coach for at least another three years and is happy where he is. Who knows, maybe we will be revisiting this in three years! But for now, we're safe..
He was the long tenured coach for the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise, bringing them to a Stanley Cup in 2001-2002. However they dropped the following year and he was eventually named the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and after two unsuccessful seasons he has seen himself back on the open market. He has a long history of developing young players which makes him a prime candidate for many, but for me I feel like he has lost his touch over the past few years. To his credit he was stuck behind a very poor Leaf's team that has gone through an overhaul of changes...but I still feel we can do better.
Great coach. He had some fantastic years with the Avalanche, winning a Stanley Cup, and brought the Atlanta Thrashers to their first post-season. However last year after going 0-6 he was canned. Yet these teams were with players that were either superstars or stars on the verge of expanding their abilities. They weren't prospects looking to figure out a full-time role on a major NHL team. Sure, there were probably a few, but neither team was in rebuilding mode. If we were looking to build on a first round playoff berth I'd say hire him, but for now, he would be my third choice.
My immediate first choice the second I saw that Nolan was fired when I was at work. He coached a fantastic Tampa Bay team for years and despite his questionable demeanor he led Tampa to their first Stanley Cup. Last year was their worst year in a while and it resulted in his firing. He also looks at the Isles as a challenge, something new for him to conquer - a rebuilding mode with a rebuilding organization and a team/GM with a lot to prove, and he could be the man to lead them to success. As previously mentioned, his demeanor scares me away just a tad bit, and I wonder how much control he would look to gain from Garth. Many have said they do not feel he is the right coach for a rebuilding franchise, but correct me if I am wrong but didn't he help raise Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards, and others to become the all-stars they are today? I think it's something he is fully capable of doing, and if he wants to coach here the Isles should give him some hard consideration. In spite of all that being said, he is my second choice.
According to the unidentified assistant coaches, (Gallant being one of them), Teddy refused their advice. Due to stubborn behavior? Or was there an actual reason? He was the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, however they did not make vast improvements until he was gone and Hitchcock came in. He also had trouble getting through to some players like Bergeron. Granted, one player who was not responsible for his actions should not keep Gallant for a chance, and he does deserve one. But again, I think the Isles can still do better.
He has six years of coaching experience in the minors with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. He has been named AHL coach of the year and has an impressive record of 219-139-20-27. He obviously knows how to connect with prospects and get them to win, but would he be able to do it at the show against players like Crosby, Drury, Malkin, and so on? It wouldn't be unlike the Isles to establish a relationship based on chance (Steve Stirling?) but this is Snow's team, not Milbury's, so I still hope to find a more NHL experienced coach.
Tortorella's former assistant is next in line for Snow's interviews this week. He has two years of NHL coaching experience for the Boston Bruin's, served as an assistant for the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team and was head coach of the 2007 World Championships. Again, I will repeat the same as above, the guy has an impressive resume, but I still feel the team should go with someone with a bit more experience.
And that leads me to...
In my opinion, this guy has the most impressive resume of them all. After coaching the Avalanche for the three years and going 131-92-93 with a roster including young (and very impressive forwards) such as Wolski, Stastny, Svatos, Liles, and others, he is now on the open market looking for a new job slated for the most likely last interview of the summer. He maintained a winning record in his 11-year run with the St. Louis Blues, making the playoffs nine times but only reaching the Conference Finals once. He is a smart coach who apparently knows how to communicate with an age-diverse team such as the Avalanche who also had guys like Foote, Smyth, Forsberg, Sakic, and Hejduk on board. Snow and Joel also have a pre-arranged relationship since Quenneville was the head coach of the Quebec Nordiques way back in the day when Garth was on the team.
I honestly think Quenneville is the most qualified with the best record while also showing he is a loyal coach to the team he chooses to work for, which is something Snow wants to find and establish.
If he isn't picked I can only hope that Snow made the right choice, but I believe that Joel Quenneville should be behind our bench at the start of the 2008-2009 season.