Wed Mar 09 12:20pm EST
It's often said appearances are everything, which is why we dig Jack Capuano.
The New York Rangers have a coach who screams New Yawk; someone who looks like a personal injury lawyer that you can picture going berserk while sitting in midtown traffic, railing against his lot in life while driving a Benz.
The New Jersey Devils have coach who exudes the sort of prestige and utter tedium that are hallmarks of that organization for the last 20 years.
A guy who doesn't necessarily look the part, yet somehow completely fits what you'd expect a New York Islanders coach to look like in 2011. The kind of guy who casually crushes beer cans on his forehead. The kind of guy who looks down the bench and says, "Aw, [expletive] it. Just go fight someone will ya?"
You know what else Jack Capuano is? He's 21-14-5 since Dec. 15, and 22-22-7 overall for an Islanders team that's struggled through injuries, goaltending upheaval and suspensions.
They're 10 points off the pace in the Eastern Conference. For one columnist, that's enough to warrant Jack Adams consideration. For us, that might be enough for the interim coach to become the next head coach of the New York Islanders.
Arthur Staple of Newsday noticed Jacques Lemaire getting some push for the Jack Adams, and thinks the Islanders' Capo deserves some consideration. From Newsday (registration required):
The Islanders have lost over 500 man-games to injury, over 100 more than the next-closest team.
They were considered a laughingstock when Scott Gordon was fired at 4-10-3, a nothing team deserving of scorn for their cheap ways and ancient building.
Now? The Islanders have a top-nine forward rotation that's pretty promising, and none of them are over age 27. They have eight NHL-ready defensemen signed for next season. And they have Kevin Poulin(notes), Montoya and Rick DiPietro lined up to tend goal next year.
Capuano deserves as much consideration for that coach of the year award as Lemaire.
Well, no. But his point's taken.
They've both turned their teams' seasons around, that's for sure. And they've both done so by imprinting a personality on a wayward team: Lemaire giving the Devils defensive structure, Capuano knuckling up and playing defiantly through adversity.
Jack may not be the most brilliant coach in the history of hockey, but he was smart enough to get the Islanders back to just playing hockey. Gone is Scott Gordon's ridiculous system of constant forechecks and the constant talk of cycling. Gone is Gordon's overcomplicated system that was clearly stifling the young team. If we've learned nothing else from the Islanders recent success it's that Gordon was a bad coach, and coaching makes a difference.
Gordon was a rising star in the coaching ranks when he was hired by Garth Snow. Capuano appeared to be an interim stop-gap, but his uncomplicated approach and the enthusiasm he sparked on this roster (filled with players he previously coached) have made him a viable candidate to remain the team's head coach. In that regard, he's like Bruce Boudreau when he first took over the Capitals.
He earned a contract, too.