Blog Entry

Ted's time was up

Posted on: July 14, 2008 5:19 pm

Ted Nolan wasn't general manager Garth Snow's choice to be coach of the New York Islanders, so it was probably inevitable that he would end up gone at some point. Just not in the middle of the summer and with one year left on his contract.

The time to dump him would have been right after New York's season ended in April, which would have given Nolan a better shot at finding another job and the team a wider range of choices to replace him. Then again, these are the Islanders we're talking about, an organization that marches to the beat of its own drummer while always seeming to wear ear plugs that muffle the sound.

Still if the timing is a bit surprising, the action isn't necessarily so because right now, the Islanders are going nowhere under Nolan. And his ideas about how to fix things are radically different from Snow's.

That might help explain why Nolan has a reputation among some league insiders as being someone who is difficult to work with. It's one reason he went nearly a decade between NHL coaching jobs before hooking up with the Islanders in 2006, although to Nolan and several others, there was an element of racism involved in the perceived blackballing of the member of Canada's First Nation.

Make up your own mind on that one. Nolan's previous and only other NHL gig ended in 1997 after he was named coach of the year for the Buffalo Sabres, but rejected in his quest for a contract extension. The incident ended up costing GM John Muckler his job as well, but while the well-connected Muckler was recycled a couple of times as both a coach and GM, Nolan could never get more than token interviews when positions because available.

Then New York's iconclastic owner, Charles Wang, hired Nolan after an organizational shakeup that ousted longtime GM Mike Milbury. It was an unusual move because Wang brought in Nolan before hiring Milbury's replacement, who turned out to be former Rangers GM Neil Smith. Less than two months into his new job, Smith was dumped in favor of Snow, who had been the Islanders backup goalie to that point.

Like I said before, these are the Islanders we're talking about

Somehow though, the odd relationship worked well at first because Nolan showed his skills as a motivator and led a lackluster Islanders team predicted to finish near the bottom of the pack to a surprise playoff spot. But it all fell apart last season when the team finished missed the playoffs thanks to a series of key injuries and a distinct lack of talent.

And those were only the problems that were apparent on the surface. Behind the scenes, Nolan and Snow became disenchanted with each other mainly because the coach, figuring his job was to win, wanted to use his veterans as much as possible. Snow, meanwhile, took a longer term view, accepting that the season was a lost cause and imploring Nolan to give more ice time to young players he believed were critical to the rebuilding process and to modify his system of play. 

Nolan essentially stuck to his guns and his on-ice strategies and the Islanders kept losing. But the breaking point came in a March radio interview when Snow questioned Nolan's decision to play backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz ahead of Rick DiPietro, who had been cleared after an injury.

Subsequently, Nolan didn't help himself by talking out loud about a contract extension and complained about the dearth of talent he was working with. In other words, there were clearly the "philosophical differences" that were cited as the official explanation for the parting of ways Monday.

And that's fair enough. But the thing is, the GM is one who usually gets the last word in these situations and as a rule, holds the fate of the coach in his hands. You would think that after his previous experience in Buffalo, Nolan would have been more mindful of that.

Category: NHL

Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2008 10:10 am

Ted's time was up

Actually Mr. Wang's time is up. Go back to selling software and leave the sports to the professionals. I am a Rangers fan so I have to admit seeing the Isles in the basement  gives me no greater pleasure, but  the fact is the team has been mishandled since Wang bought them. Do your fans a favor and sell!!!

Since: Jun 15, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2008 12:24 am

Ted's time was up

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2008 12:21 am

Ted Nolan is a great coach

From his year in Buffalo, I can say that Ted Nolan is a top five coach in the NHL. HE motivated that team of nobodies to clinch a playoff birth and upset Ottawa in the first round. During his tenure he coined the phrase, "The hardest working team in hockey" for our team. The only reason he left is because he had a problem with Hasek acting like a prima donna, which he was, and Muckler took Hasek's side. During his time on the island, he did well to get a terrible roster to overachieve. In the playoffs last year, they put up an admirable fight against my Sabres and scared me a bit, as he had his team working hard. Garth Snow is setting up the Islanders to fail by running out Ted Nolan and he will have success wherever he goes next. I wouldn't mind seeing him in Buffalo if Lindy Ruff decides to retire after winning the cup.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2008 12:07 am


I typed too quickly and am using a new keyboard. I still got my point there.

Still ticked at how they handled the off-season-certainly not making me excited for the new season.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2008 12:03 am

Organization is Embarrising to Fans

Although  Ted and Garth did not seem to see things "eye to eye", I still feel that Nolan was more than worthy of coaching the team. It was a breathe of fresh air to have an enthusiastic  and winning mentality brought to this team. It has been quite hard to be a part of this fan base for a long time. The Milbury years were as horrific as a fan could have experienced. Horrible trades, worse draft picks, and a management that was simply inane at best. Yes, I gree the night he played "Dubie" over DP vs. the Rangers was a terrible decision on all accounts, but isn't it about time DiPietro won some key games towards the end of a playoff run or season ( or simply stay healthy). If this  continues for the next 12 years of his contract- who will be to blame? Let's not forget  how we passed on Heatley and Gaborik to take Dipietro and gave up on Luongo. How has that worked out?

This is a team that had only "4" forwards over 40 points last  season and it was  as frustrating to watch in person or on TV as Nolan mad eit seem after each game. Missing several veterans  out of the lineup did not help matters (Missing Witt & Sutton led toa  defensive meltdown and I think  losing practically every faceoff without Sillinger in the lineup led to several breakdowns and goals against). Our top scoring defenseman was Berard (after the trade of enigmatic Bergeron) with his whopping 5 goals and 22 points. This team had only TWO 20-goal scorers--they play  82 games!!!! They scored 2 or fewer goals  46 times last year!!!

Was it necessarily Nolan's fault (Philosophical differences aside) that management was unable to fillthe gap of  the missing talent fromthe previous year: Smyth (36 goals combined), Blake (40 goals), Yashin( 18 goals in 58 games), Kozlov (25 goals), Robitaille( 40 points), even  TOM POTI ( 44 points). And the  complete absense of any team toughness whatsoever was no picnic to watch with players such as Asham gone and the sideshow  circus of Simon deciding that he was a soccer player  all of the sudden. And look at this off season's moves- they signed a decent  scoring  Streit on Defense and a way pas his scoring pime Doug Weight (10 goals-last year) while losing the disappointing Satan and Fedotenko. I will not be at all suprised to see Satan score over 60 points now that he has  pro-level talent around him in Pitsburgh ( he was not one  to make others better around him).

Yes, this team has some decent young talent, but I saw enough of them to know that they will not make anyoen forget Malkin, Ovechkin or Crosby. There was more than enough mid level talent available to help boost this young team for the next season, but it seems that Snow ( or Wang) opted to go stingy. You can not have a fullscale youth movement in hockey these days and with some proper pieces plugged in any team can make a leap from season to season. The Islanders have not won a playoff series in 16 years- that is pathetic.

In summary, I enjoyed Nolan's candor and desire to win now ---not later---isn't  16 years enough ( 25 without a cup). He showed his class and dignity  with his Al Arbour coaching night. He was old school and it seemed to be his goal to really push for a title. This is  a team that has  let go of Peter Laviolette ( won the Cup the year after --and made the playoffs  with the Isles) and a solid season  with Steve Sterling. I will still continue to root on this favorite team of mine, but I am not sure how many games I will be willing to shell out  50-100 bucks to see  1-2 goals a game scored. I would have rather seen signings of players like Demitra, Morrison, Williams, or Stillman than to see our coach let go on July 14th.

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