A year ago, firing Jack Capuano had the merits of a good idea. Now it’s tile to look at a different spot on the bench.
There’s an odd feeling while watching this team. They can win 13-of-15 and dominate the frames of bonus hockey, yet their special teams play remains in the basement. Generally speaking, their Power Play seems to come from a pamphlet comprised of old completed Mad Libs. Blowing repeated 3-goal leads doesn’t help the cause either. The New York Islanders are going to stick with Jack Capuano as head coach because all signs point to him doing his job correctly. His tenure has placed him second to only Al Arbour for wins, which is kind of a thing. The same tenure is the third-longest in franchise history behind Arbour and Mike…Milbury. And he’s led the team to the playoffs once.
This story isn’t as good as it should be and might be getting worse before it gets better. But the next few chapters have new editors overseeing the current author.
Many have been calling for Capuano to be fired, a position that didn’t seem too far out of place last season, but he has weathered this storm time and time again. Garth Snow has provided the assets Capuano needed to be successful but while the right tools can make anyone’s job easier, the talent lies with the person. For all the line combination juggling, 4th line overuse, and injury-related malarkey on the blueline, the Islanders are succeeding. The special teams, and the dead last power play, fall under the assistants. And the former player and Power Play Specialist Doug Weight is not delivering.
For all of his success as a player, Weight is suffering from the same issue all players-turned-coaches face, “It makes sense to me, so why doesn’t it make sense to you?” It’s the core of being a coach and teacher, explaining and implementing your knowledge into (not just onto) others.
This image reflects what was the Islanders’ power play approach last season. Hug the wall like you’re Indiana Jones trying not to fall to your death, stay behind the net to “create”, tiptoe the blueline. The forwards charge in well, possess well, but are routinely pinned against any vertical structure. In the rare event a puck is sent towards the goal, the entire opposition PK unit is there to politely usher it out of the zone. There is no visible play for net front presence, and in the rare instance it occurs, it’s a fluke. When your roster includes Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson, and Casey Cizikas there’s no excuse for a clear crease.
If this is the power play scheme Weight has perpetuated why is he still employed? And perpetuated is the key here. Weight has not changed the institutional problem of the power play, something that seems to have been around since the days of Yashin. Stirling/Shaw, Nolan, Gordon, all these coaches deployed the same tactic as if it’s written into their contracts.
Doug Weight continues to promote, and be a part of, the problem.