When I saw the headline of Greg Logan's article in today's Newsday, I thought, "Ah, there it is: a vote of confidence for the coach."
Surely, I was about to read quotes from GM Garth Snow that would settle the rumblings about Ted Nolan's suddenly murky future with the Islanders. Truth be told, said murkiness was speculation and analysis fueled by Nolan's worry over entering the final year of his contract without an extension having been discussed.
I never took seriously the notion that Nolan might not return for the 2008-09 campaign. That would require a catastrophic disagreement over Nolan's ability to coach effectively on the final year of his deal, or a personality conflict involving that dangerous word, respect.
Either way, it just seems unlikely. Both men were granted an opportunity that likely wasn't going to come from another team anytime soon. They will give this opportunity their best shot.
So, considering that Nolan is as good an option as anyone to helm the bench, and that he deserves to continue as coach, a vote of confidence at this juncture was a wise next step in the transition to next season.
The only issue is, after reading the article, I can't quite classify the remarks made by Snow as a vote of confidence. Instead, let's call them a note of confidence.
Snow characterized his relationship with Nolan as "good, great." In response to a question on the circumstances under which Nolan wouldn't be coaching the Islanders next year, Snow said, "I don't see any reason. He's our coach."
It wasn't exactly, "Ted Nolan is a terrific coach and remains a critical component for the future success of our organization." It was, however, a solid enough statement that things behind the scenes have not gone terribly awry.
Snow goes on to describe his vision of developing a winning team, which centers around an injection of youth. This could be a potential source of friction between the coach and GM (with Jeff Tambellini as the poster boy), but Snow believes that any disagreements they have are part of a healthy working relationship.
I would certainly like to see this duo succeed together. And, yes, no small part of that is the chance to see one guy who was ridiculed and another who was blackballed come out on top. They also happen to be easy to root for. I'm also a believer that Nolan's talent as a coach should be equally effective with youthful players as it is with veterans.
Speaking of easy to root for, Logan's blog had a surprising revelation about Wade Dubielewicz. Logan used his blog to publish a slew of information that didn't fit in the original Snow article. Snow revealed that a contributing factor to Nolan's heavy use of Rick DiPietro early in the season was that Dubielewicz didn't report to camp in great shape.
Dubie has never seemed like type of guy to slack off over the summer because he finally scored his first one-way deal. Whatever caused him to lack fitness, his subsequent high quality of play in the second half may not be enough to overcome the perception that he let the team down early on. In that light, the signing of Joey MacDonald takes on new meaning.
For what it's worth, Snow said that the future of Dubie as an Islander could still go either way. I've seen all I need to see to be satisfied with him backing up DiPietro again next year.