The New York Islanders relieved head coach Jack Capuano of his duties behind the bench on Tuesday replacing him with assistant general manager, Doug Weight.
The Islanders who advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 17-17-8 record. They reached the .500 mark after defeating the Boston Bruins on Monday afternoon 4-0.
General manager, Garth Snow said, “Obviously, we are not in a position where we want to be standing wise. I think everyone is disappointed where we are at. At the end of the day, organizationally, I do not think Jack was probably going to be a coach that we were going to bring back. At this point in time, to name Dougie Weight interim coach, we can start a coaching search now and not have to worry about the ramifications of trying to do that when Jack was head coach.”
Snow did not give a time frame of how long Weight would be behind the bench for the Islanders. The team will practice on Wednesday as they prepare to host the Dallas Stars at the Barclays Center on Thursday night.
Snow added, “We are going to look at everything. Dougie has a great hockey mind. He has been behind the bench coaching for the last five years and has a ton of respect for the players in that room. But we are going to look for every opportunity to win games as they come. I am not going to comment on who I am meeting with or who we are talking to. It is a situation where we are just worried about one day, one game at a time. We will do our business quietly and efficiently.”
He continued, “We are at the halfway point of the season, and we are a .500 hockey club. It has just been a different season that has unfolded compared to the last two years. We need to turn this ship around and I really have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff and our players and it starts with our next game on Thursday.”
Weight, who spent 19 seasons as a forward in the National Hockey League, has served as an assistant coach and assistant general manager for the Islanders since 2011. He will begin his first stint as a bench boss, on Thursday night and will be joined by assistant coaches Bob Corkum and Greg Cronin as they try to get the Islanders back on track.
The franchise has struggled in the first season under the new ownership group of Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, who took over control from Charles Wang this past summer. The Islanders lost three key free agents, in Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo, as Snow signed Andrew Ladd to a seven-year deal and Jason Chimera for two years on July 1st.
Snow did accept most of the blame for the struggles this season saying, “I do not think there is a player on our roster I have not had a hand in either drafting, picking up off waivers, a trade or free agent signing, same with the staff, whether it is the trainers, coaches or scouts. I am not hiding the fact that it starts with me.”
He added, “Our expectation as a team is to always win a Stanley Cup. We are no different than the 29 other teams that are out there trying to win hockey games. I do not know that Jack fell short of expectations, I think when you are head coach in this league, sometimes you are a victim of different circumstances and situations. You have 23 players on your roster, and it is hard to make moves, obviously in a salary cap world. You do not see much movement during the season. Unfortunately, the coaches bear the brunt of those decisions.”
Snow who has been the general manager for the Islanders since 2006, is not too concerned about his job security, even with Ledecky and Malkin thinking about adding a team president.
He said, “I do not even worry about that. I just worry about what I have to do on a day-to-day basis and what I need to do, whether it is preparing for a draft, being a support system for players, coaches or trainers. As managers, we can’t control anything else than what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
Capuano who coached the Islanders since November 15, 2010, when he was promoted from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after Scott Gordon was let go. He has been a part of the Islanders organization since 2005-2006, when he was an assistant coach.
His 482 games behind the bench and 227 victories are second in Islanders history to Al Arbour. He was the fourth longest tenured coach behind, Claude Julien of the Bruins, Joel Quennville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Dave Tippet of the Arizona Coyotes.
Capuano said, “It is an honor to have served this historic franchise and its passionate fans. I would like to thank Garth and our ownership group for the opportunity to be head coach of the Islanders. I would also like to recognize our coaching staff, training staff and players for all of their hard work.”
The past two seasons the Islanders put up back-to-back 100-point seasons under Capuano. Last year they were able to knock off the Florida Panthers to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Snow added, “We owe a ton of gratitude for the work Jack did. A lot of these players on our team came up through our system in Bridgeport and [Capuano] coached some of those players as well. From where we went, going from a rebuild to making the playoffs three of the last four years, getting to the second-round last year, he was a big contributor to that. We thank him and wish him all the best. I know he is going to have success wherever he ends up.”