Time for Change in Leadership

The Islanders disappointing season continues and after a difficult week with the trade deadline it’s now time to see where the future holds for the team. With one more season on Long Island before moving to Brooklyn, serious evaluations of this organization will be in place at the conclusion of the season. One solution could be a change in leadership in the front office and here are some names that ownership should consider if GM Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano are replaced this summer.

Head Coaching Candidates

Peter Laviolette

The most popular choice for Islanders fans to see take the job. Laviolette coached the Islanders to back to back playoff berths from 2001-2003 before being fired. He had a 77-62-19-6 record with the Islanders and owns an overall coaching record of 389-282-25-63 over 12 seasons. After his time on Long Island, Laviolette went on to coach the Carolina Hurricanes leading them to the 2006 Stanley Cup championship plus a stint with the Philadelphia Flyers where he was let go in October. He most recently served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the Sochi Winter Olympics and was head coach of Team USA in the 2006 games. His fiery temper might just be what the young Islanders group needs to take the next step in consistency year in and year out.  The question would remain as if he would work for Charles Wang again but he would be welcomed back by many of the fans.

Ron Wilson

Another unemployed veteran coaching candidate on the market. Wilson has coached 1400 games in the NHL over 18 years with the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. His career record is 648-561-101-91 with 8 playoff berths over that span. He last coached in the 2011-2012 season with Toronto before being let go mid-season but he helped build the present core the Maple Leafs have seen success with over the past 2 years. He is most recently also known for his work in as head coach in the 2010 Winter Olympics leading the U.S. to a silver medal in Vancouver. Wilson would bring a veteran presence to the Islanders and with the right assets given he could have potential success based on his track record.

Tony Granato

Currently an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a former head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in two separate stints.Granato coached the Avalanche from 2002-2004 and then again in the 2008-2009 season with a record of 104-78-17-16. He joined the Penguins coaching staff in 2009 under Dan Bylsma who is also assisted at the Olympics last month. Granato led the Avalanche to two playoff berths in his tenure and has been part of some successful Penguins teams over the past 5 years.  He certainly has earned another chance to be a head coach and the knowledge of the East and the playoff experience he has from the Penguins bench could be a great asset to the Islanders.

John Stevens

Currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings and a former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Stevens was interim coach of the Kings for 4 games before Darryl Sutter was hired in December 2011 and stayed on the staff helping lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012. He was also named coach of the year by The Hockey Newsin 2008 when he was in Philadelphia. Stevens coached the Flyers from 2006-2010 plus 4 games as Kings interim coach for a total record of 122-111-34. He led the Flyers to immediate success including an Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2008 his 2nd year on the job after a struggling first season. Stevens would bring a winning attitude and has the experience of dealing with teams building through the drafts as both the Flyers and Kings had done this during his time with these teams.

Other names that could be considered are former Senators, Canadieans, and Panthers head coach Jacques Martin who is now a Penguins assistant coach, former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, and former Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel.

General Manager Candidates

Jason Botterill

Botterill is the current assistant GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a candidate for the Buffalo Sabres GM job this year that went to Tim Murray. He has been with the Penguins since 2007 first as director of hockey administration and has worked very close with Ray Shero. He oversaw the building of the team that won the 2009 Stanley Cup and a consistent winner in the Eastern Conference. Botterill is certainly getting the look at the big chair and he is only 37 years old. He would bring a wealth of experience at such a young age and could help build a consistent winner.

Ron Hextall

Hextall is the current vice president/assistant GM of the Los Angeles Kings working closely with GM Dean Lombardi and both men helped build the core that led the Kings to the 2012 Stanley Cup. With Brooklyn almost here and the Islanders looking to build consistent success Hextall could fit what might be needed. Hextall could also consider guys like Laviolette, Stevens, and Wilson for head coach who he has connections with from his days with the Flyers and working with Dean Lombardi.

Paul Fenton

Fenton is assistant GM of the Nashville Predators and was previously their director of player personnel and has been with the organization since its inception. The Predators are a team similar to the Islanders as far as spending money which they don’t do much of but they continue to draft very well and having continued success on the ice. If the Islanders were to make a change and want to still follow the same philosophy then Fenton would be a great choice. 

Usually if a general manager is replaced, the coach is most likely to be replaced. Other situations could see just a coaching change or no changes at all. What is to be seen from the Islanders at season end as of now is unclear but if this organization is serious about building a winning culture then they will consider individuals like the ones listed for these key positions.

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY and follow us @TCLIsles