Mike Sullivan Intrigues as Islanders Head Coach Candidate

Michael GasparinoCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2008

I'll be up front about it: I went to Boston University and have a bias toward Terriers. But that isn't the only reason I think former Bruins coach Mike Sullivan may be a good choice as the Islanders head coach.

First off, I have a feeling that not one of the so-called "big three" candidates—John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, and Bob Hartley—will be a match for this club, although it seems that of the three, Hartley has the best chance, and not just due to his relationship with Garth Snow. The guy won a Cup with Colorado and had great success there.

So, putting them aside, let's look at the other four candidates that have been confirmed by Newsday.

Sullivan was outstanding the one year he coached the Providence Bruins and he was 41-19-15-7 in his first year behind the Boston bench, when the Bruins were booted in round one of the playoffs.

The team regressed the next year and didn't make the playoffs, and Sullivan was then fired by incoming GM Peter Chiarelli. He spent last season as Tortorella's assistant in Tampa Bay.

With so much youth on the Islanders squad, Sullivan—who is 40—looks like a good fit. He's had success working with young players and has worked or played alongside some pretty good coaches, including BU legend Jack Parker.

Side note: Sullivan played four seasons for the Terriers, finishing in 1990. I covered the Terriers for the Daily Free Press, BU's student-run newspaper, his sophomore and junior seasons before graduating in 1989. He was one of the top players back then and everyone thought highly of him, as I recall (my memory is a little hazy—it was college, after all).

Joel Quenneveille is not as attractive. He is a retread and isn't the guy who should be leading this squad. Islanders assistant coach Gerard Gallant is a possibility. Still, one would think as an internal candidate he would either have been hired already or you would hear much more buzz about him if he were a strong possibility.

The other interesting candidate is current Providence Bruins coach Scott Gordon, a former goaltender who has had terrific success the last five-plus years in the AHL. Gordon, who played at Boston College (boooooo), was named the AHL's top coach last season when Providence won the regular season points title.

Boston coach Claude Julien, who coaches a defensive style, led the Bruins to a winning record in his debut last season and isn't going anywhere. Gordon has paid his dues and coaches a wide-open, offensive style that has been described as entertaining. It's also been pretty successful at the minor league level.

So Sullivan and Gordon look like the most interesting possibilities, at least from my point of view. If I had to choose one, I'd go with Sullivan. After all, he is a Terrier.