This 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.
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.