And for once in the recent history of the New York Islanders, a reference to Shutter Island isn’t appropriate here.
Nope, Jack Capuano isn’t trapped in his own delusion of a team that’s improving. His team really is improving, or at least that’s what the latter half of this season told us, which is why Capuano will stay on Long Island.
On Tuesday morning the Islanders announced that Capuano’s interim tag has been removed, and he’ll remain as the Islanders’ bench boss. Terms of Capuano’s contract were not disclosed.
After sliding in as the replacement following Scott Gordon’s two failed seasons and a 10-game losing streak that finally ended his tenure in New York on Nov. 15, Capuano slowly guided the Islanders towards something the franchise hasn’t had in quite some time: hope.
The Islanders won just four of their first 17 games under Gordon’s leadership, a horrid start that came after a 60-84 record over the past two seasons which resulted in two top-five picks at the draft (first overall in 2009, and fifth in 2010).
It was clearly time for a change, and once Gordon become this year’s first coaching casualty Capuano lead the Islanders to a 26-29-10 record in the remaining 65 games of the season. Capuano’s Islanders were just shy of the .500 mark, a mark they haven’t been above since 2003-04.
Goal scoring was never a major problem for the Islanders, a team that boasts some promising young talent in John Tavares, Michael Grabner, and Matt Moulson. Grabner was particularly impressive this season, leading all rookies with 34 goals, and completing a sizzling run starting in early January in which he scored 16 goals over 15 games. Had Tavares notched one more, the Islanders would have had three 30-goal scorers.
The emergence of Al Montoya towards the end of the season provided some hope–there’s that word again–for stability in goal. Montoya didn’t start his first game until Feb.13, and in the 18 games he started the former Rangers first-round pick allowed two or fewer goals 12 times. Combined with Nathan Lawson, Montoya provided an injection of youth in the Islanders’ crease. It’s just too bad that Capuano is shackled with the glass-jawed Rick Dipietro and his ludicrous 15-year contract.
So yes, there is some promise on the Island. Now if they could just get someone–anyone–to show up at the Coliseum other than those campaigning to have the team moved, then maybe that sense of hope will spill into the turnstiles.
But we doubt it.