Ted Nolan coached the Islanders to a 75-68-21 record and one playoff berth during his two seasons behind the bench in New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
As my good pal Ken Campbell likes to say, this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
The official word is Ted Nolan and the New York Islanders have parted ways due to philosophical differences. Sounds nice and tidy, huh?
Read between the lines, however, and this is the more likely accurate scenario: Excellent coach sick and tired of trying to make chicken doo-doo into chicken salad. My guess is Nolan took a look at the Islanders’ roster and decided to conjure up a few philosophical differences to get his butt out of town.
In two years with the Islanders, after a decade-long exile from the NHL, Nolan coached this rag-tag bunch of characters to a 75-68-21 record; remarkable given what he had to work with. You could make the case Nolan actually did a better coaching job with the Islanders than when he won the Jack Adams Award with the Buffalo Sabres in 1997. That season at least he had Dominik Hasek in goal.
The Islanders have become the team veteran players with nowhere else to play sign with. At the rate they are going, it will be years before they become a contender.
At least with Nolan behind the bench, they had a fighting chance.
There are plenty of quality coaches still walking the unemployment line – Pat Burns, Bob Hartley, Marc Crawford, Joel Quenneville and Paul Maurice amongst them – but even those guys will have to think long and hard before hitching their wagon to this mess.
As for Nolan? Don’t expect him to be out of work for too long. He is a proven winner, the kind of coach a team like, say, the Los Angeles Kings might want to hire as fast as humanly possible.
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