Veteran players give their take on Islanders coaching change

NYI Fan CentralSenior Analyst IJuly 15, 2008

The Veterans Speak Up

Newsday: Greg Logan has comments in Newsday's Islander blog from Bill Guerin, Mike Sillinger, Rick DiPietro, and Brendan Witt, giving their take on the coaching change with reaction.

Bill Guerin was not shocked and said it was no secret the coach and general manager were not seeing things eye-to-eye during the year or over the summer, and felt it had become a distraction from what you read in the paper.  However most of the veterans have seen every situation, and the young players seeing more ice time should not have a major impact.

Mike Sillinger praised Ted Nolan and talked of the great relationship between both of them.  He had no idea what was happening because he was injured in the second half but this was a terrible year for the club.

He was contacted by Garth Snow about the change and told that it's the GM's decision.  Sillinger, who will not be critical of anyone, said he enjoyed playing for his now former coach, but thinks it's unfortunate that the coach always gets the blame. He also believed the club needed more youth, and that they have some young players who are capable of stepping in and contributing.

Rick DiPietro felt you need to develop your talent, have good drafts, that young players need to step up and play big roles; developing a young nucleus with some veteran guys around to lead.  They are making strides in that direction with Okposo, Comeau, and Jeff Tambellini. The goaltender also felt the club needed a tighter defensive system than the one Nolan used, citing success against the Devils, but when they got away from that things did not go well.

Brendan Witt for his part also felt the clubs 1-3-1 system was more successful in the coaches first season.  However despite problems between the coach and general manager, Witt was shocked there was a change and that there still were lingering bad feelings.  He felt management would have waited for the club to struggle next season before making a change.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
In summary the captain Ted Nolan praised up and down at the end of the season, and never was critical of even when he blasted his veterans.  They knew there were problems, did not seem surprised at how this turned out, and did not give him a ringing endorsement you would expect from a captain considering he is the link to the coaching staff.

Mike Sillinger admitted this year was terrible but praised Ted Nolan for the first season and did not see any problem with the coach or anyone but it's the general managers call.

Rick DiPietro, like most goaltenders, wanted more defense and a system that keeps them in the games better, which was lacking all year as the club could not get games to overtime.  A great plus/minus team a year ago became a terrible plus minus team last season.

Brendan Witt was surprised this was still going on between them and they had not worked this out by now as he also talked about the defensive system from a year ago.

Bottom Line:
All of them agreed it's time to work in more young players and let them become the core talent on the roster which is the common thread.