This afternoon the New York Islanders announced that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach, Brent Thompson, would become the Islanders new assistant coach. Coach Thompson, like many others, began his coaching career after years of playing the game himself. Selected 34th overall by the LA Kings in the 1989 entry-level draft, Thompson (‘Tommer’, his ice name) played 121 games in the NHL with the Kings and Winnipeg Jets organizations. He also played for six different AHL teams in his 14 years as a player before beginning his career as a coach.
The release of assistant coaches Scott Allen and Dean Chynoweth by the Islanders has led to speculation that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson will be joining Jack Capuano and Doug Weight behind the teams bench. I hope this is not the case for three very good reasons. First, I think that coach Capuano should be allowed to select his own assistants and can’t think of any successful organization that doesn’t allow their head coach to do the same. Secondly, as remarkable a job as coach Thompson has done in Bridgeport, he has not finished his work here. Lastly, I am a selfish Sound Tigers fan and don’t want to lose him. (Okay, maybe that’s only two good reasons.)
Thirty teams in the NHL and each has an AHL affiliate to draw talent from as needed. All but two of these AHL clubs has a team in the ECHL providing a similar service. The two expectations are the Wild’s- Houston Aeros and the Islanders- Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
As a result, Coach Brent Thompson has relied heavily on his connections and experience in the ECHL to bring talented prospects up to Bridgeport. ‘Tommer’, as the players call him, was coach of the 2010-11 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces and often looks there for talent.
An ever-changing line-up is part and parcel to being a coach in the American League. Bridgeport has already dressed seven different goalies and at least thirty-five skaters (forwards and defensemen), and it is just Ground Hog Day! The next call-up to Bridgeport might well be a hat-trick master from Frost Bite Falls, Minn.