Scott Gordon Named Isles Head Coach!

Scott GordonThis just in, the Islanders have named AHL Coach of the year Scott Gordon as head coach!

Per Greg Logan of Newsday:

It took more than four weeks, but Islanders general manager Garth Snow finally identified the coach he hopes will become a close partner for many seasons to come. Scott Gordon, who was AHL coach of the year last season in Providence, has been named as the replacement for Ted Nolan, Newsday has learned.

Gordon, 45, was chosen following an exhaustive search that began on July 14, when Nolan and the Isles agreed to part company, and included interviews with more than the eight candidates who were known to be on Snow’s list of possibilities. The key consideration in finding a new coach was his commitment to the program outlined by Snow to rebuild the franchise through the draft and development of young prospects.

“For me, the bottom line was finding the right coach for our organization at this time,” Snow said of the coach search. “It was a rigorous interview process, extremely thorough. I don’t want any perception the other candidates weren’t qualified or weren’t good people because they were. I just found the candidate that’s the right coach for our organization. Scott Gordon really stood out.”

Gordon, who agreed this evening to a multi-year contract, was the only coach on the list of eight known candidates without any experience behind an NHL bench. In a sense, he’ll have to grow along with the players and Snow, who is set to begin his third season as GM. Like Snow, who played college hockey at Maine, Gordon is a goaltender from New England. The Easton, Mass. native, who played at Boston College, was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.

There are a great deal of fans out there who may very well be angered by taking in a rookie NHL coach, I am also a little nervous about the whole ordeal truth-be-told. The only Islanders coach who came off of AHL coach of the year and went on to be successful was Peter Laviolette – and he did so after the Islanders gave him his walking papers. Steve Stirling was another Islanders coach who won AHL coach of the year honors, but the only thing that poor old Stirling won was a headache and an eventual coaching position in Germany.

Am I blasting this move? Not in the least, because you never know how his style of coaching can turn out in the NHL. Gordon appears to be a great coach and he likely said the right things when interviewed. As Logan points out in his article, the coach has a chance to grow and learn with his young players. What’s important about that is the players will gain the trust of the coach and coach the trust of the players. His next trick, gaining the trust of the fragile Islanders fanbase – can you do it Gordo?

The last bit remains to be seen, but with a record of 55-18-3 last season with Providence Scott Gordon needs to first prove he can translate that success into the NHL.

Thanks to a poster over on Islandermania, there is an article that speaks very highly about Gordon – and even goes on to proclaim he will be a successful NHL coach. Here are a few bits and pieces:

There were questions, however, if Gordon could be a successful head coach in the AHL.

He’s proved his critics wrong and, entering tonight’s game, he carries a 153-116-13-10-15 record with the P-Bruins. Now, it’s unanimous around the hockey world that he could coach at the NHL level. “Absolutely,” was the resounding response from numerous players, coaches and front-office personnel.

“He’s as knowledgeable of a guy in hockey that I know,” said Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jeff Gorton. “He’s prepared and has good communication skills with the players. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t talk to an agent or player who says how much they like playing for Scott. In the NHL, you have to know the game, work hard like Scott does, and you have to be able to relate to the players. He’s able to do all that.”

“He’s done a good job developing players and winning at the same time,” said Gorton. “He’s done a real good job of that. He’s kind of gone under the radar a little bit, but people are starting to realize how good of a coach he really is.

It will take some time to know if Snow has hit a home run with Gordon, but the more and more I read about him – the more I like.

As far as the status of assistants Gerard Gallant, John Chabot and Dan Lacroix – at this point they all appear to be staying on as of right now. If anything, news trickling out of the press during Nolan’s dismissal claimed he wouldn’t listen to his assistants when it came to changing his game plan, so maybe Gordon gives them a shot and if he feels he needs to find replacements does so next season? Lots of stories to watch out of this latest development.

Update: Seems they will be retained – per an update on Logan’s Newsday story:

Asked to describe Gordon’s coaching style, Snow said, “System-wise, he’s adamant about playing a tight defensive system. He’s going to make a difference, starting with our defensive zone. The neutral-zone forecheck will be different, too. It’s going to be a great fit for our players.”

Current Islanders assistant coaches Gallant, John Chabot and Dan Lacroix all are expected to be retained.

Michael Schuerlein


  1. I like this move. It sure beats hiring a retread at an inflated salary. But mainly, it suggests that they’re going to give this team the time it needs to develop the right way. Had they went with a veteran, there might have been more pressure to win sooner. It’ll take a while, but it seems like they did the right thing here.

  2. Mike … great work this week. Nice informative insite on Gordo … Oh, and Happy B-Day! … I actually think Gordon is the best coach for THIS Islander team .. Gordon was at the bottom of my choice list a month ago … but as I researched and learned more about him … and even got some good positive accolades from a former AHL coach about Gordon .. He became my front runner … because I just wasn’t sold on any of the other candidates … except for maybe Quineville … but he had other plans.

  3. 1) Hey, the guy may turn out to be a great coach, but is anyone really surprised by this decision? From the outset we have said that its unlikely that the Isles will hire a big name guy. For many reasons.
    a) Most of those coaches probably don’t want to take over a team that is destined to be a lottery team this season
    b) The Isles(Wang) probably doesn’t want to spend huge dollars on a coach especially when he already has to pay Nolan another year for sitting
    c) Most importantly, by hiring a guy with even less NHL management experience than their GM they don’t have to worry about the coach having more clout(can be manipulated) than the GM
    2) A cynical assessment we’ll admit, but can a realistic Isles fan who has watched this franchise the past 15 years, but more specifically Wang & co the past 3 years, really say with conviction that they are confident with the currrent regime/manner in which their team has been run?
    3) We wish Gordon well, and hope he has as much success as another Providence AHL-turned NHL coach Peter Laviolette. Hopefully, for you good Isles fans who have put up with too much crap to list, this time the success will occur in NY

  4. Fauxrumors,

    The past fifteen years have nothing to do with the last two years. This team has been to four playoffs in the last six years and were in a playoff spot until half the team had the flu or the four hundred man games lost to injury took their toll.

    Still they won six straight.

    Not everything is about deep dark conspiracies where a hire was made over money or getting someone Charles Wang or Garth Snow could control, he could have hired Gallant too and saved money.

    Charles Wang could have told Snow and Nolan work it out and if he wanted a change it would not have come in July so he did not take the inexpensive way out.

    If you look at the prospects finally breaking into the NHL and the ones on the way it’s more than fair to say this team has been on the right track for a while now but not enough folks have cared to notice.

    You have to escape the nineties and bring your view to the present day. Comeau, Bergenheim, Okposo, Gervais, Campoli, DiPietro and a lot of quality prospects are also going to get a chance here and have had years in the system. Nielsen, Colliton will get their chances, Tambellini will get his chance.

    NYI Fan Central

  5. I think all of us fans are getting a real SNOW job! We now have, at the core, an AHL team that charges NHL prices for its tickets! Mr. Wang – how much more do you think we fans will put up with? And we are tired of hearing about the 80’s Stanley Cup teams. This is 2008 – What have you guys done for us lately?????

  6. 1) Isles: We understand your position. We used the 15 year increment because, regardless of the playoff appearances since 2001, that’s how long its been since this team last won a playoff series
    2) Even the most ardent Islander supporter has to admit that Wang’s management style has been inconsistent at best, and down right nutty at worst.
    3) We love how passionate Isles fans are for their team but from a non fans perspective/reading non biased reports of prospects we don’t see the current group of Islanders as being all that impressive. We like Okposo as a potential top 6 forward, maybe even a top 3. Campoli certainly seems to have the tools to be a top 4 defender. Not sold yet on Gervais.
    4) Dipietro has the talent to be a top goalie, but needs a good/strong coach to guide him/control his wandering/ego. Does anyone see this current crop of players in the system/at the NHL level as possible future Cup contending material? Perhaps in 2-3 years and after a few more ‘lottery’ years its possible, but sadly we don’t see this team doing well(making/Winning in the post season) for a few years to come

  7. Fauxrumors,

    1) NYI Fan Central understands your position also but where you cover several teams we cover one team.

    There are a lot of clubs in this league we can use increment’s for as well but only one team wins the Stanley Cup, the Isles have made the playoffs four of the last six seasons and there are a lot of clubs in the league that have not even done that. If they had won a playoff series and went out quickly the next round what was really accomplished?

    2) It is not about supporting or not supporting the Isles, it’s about seeing things for what they are based on what’s happened, no more, no less.

    Unless were in the room with Charles Wang we have no idea what his management style is on a day by day basis and those who speculate along those lines are guessing at best. What he did say at his press conference two years ago if you paid attention was he would scrap the committee approach if it did not work at some point and that’s exactly what happened which Mr Botta wrote about a few times last season. The owner was consistent and it was too much for the coach to be involved with player decisions in season. Somewhere along the way the media missed this or choose not to pay attention.

    Ed Snider gave Ken Hitchcock a three year extension and fired him a month later and that club finished 30th, Wang made his mistake, took his well-deserved public beating for his mistake and fixed it at a point where his team made the playoffs the next year.

    As for nutty decisions he came in and spent 120m over one summer vs billionaire owners who refused to spend fifteen million on the entire club but he picked the wrong players back then and a lot of owners do that with Wang finally buying out Yashin.

    Teams are copying his nutty ideas by signing players to the same long term contract (for a lot more money) while Dallas and a few teams are leaning toward his committee approach. On top of that his ITV creation was picked up by the entire NHL.

    Teams hire rookie general managers, Bob Clarke was hired from the ice as gm, Brett Hull is a co-gm in Dallas. Instead of Charles Wang giving his coach more term than his gm he did not extend Ted Nolan and did the conventional thing and got ripped for it anyway.

    This is more about the media being unconventional, they wanted the coach extended and not the gm, according to Mr Botta Snow was not extended to his knowledge as of June when I asked him.

    3) Being a fan of the NY Islanders has nothing to do with anything, this is about getting it right, nothing more. When Charles Wang shows up his coach in an interview by saying I told you so with regard to prospect he deserves criticism, as for the rest he had not spoken all season.

    I do not know how the prospects will turn out but the current group (also from the Milbury era) are here and many are first or second rounders who have had time to be groomed, that could go either way. If you look at players past this summers draft like Figren, Marcinko, Joensuu there is too much depth not for someone to break through. Players like Colliton were playing on a line with Crosby at WJC a few years ago, not a group of fifth rounders here but prospect groomed since 2003.

    4) Dipietro if you watched last season wandered two games and then Newsday made issue of it after ignoring his all-star appearance. Aside from that he was an all-star who kept his club in contention back in Nov-December on a team that scored two goals or less fourteen games in a row. Folks in the media who talk about his ego have not talked about how classy he has been with the fans over the years and have given no real proof of an ego besides wanting to win. Martin Brodeur told SI he think’s DiPietro is one of the best goaltenders in the league.

    Finally on next season…

    This team despite all it’s injuries and weaknesses were five games over break even in a playoff spot in Jaunary last year. The idea they will not be just as competitive if their young players and veterans are healthy does not seem realistic and reflects viewpoints that only looked at the final standaings and not the games. Sure they could have problems and be a poor club out of the box but it’s highly unlikely given how competitive they were in division a year ago.

    New York Islander Fan Central

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