Garth Snow's Big Decision: Who Gets the New York Islanders' Coaching Job?

Dee KarlSenior Analyst IAugust 10, 2008


Wow! I didn’t really think the choice, or lack thereof, a new head coach for the New York Islanders would cause such a ruckus. But here I am on a boring Sunday in August, and I’m reading article after article and message thread upon thread about just that.

Who is Garth Snow going to pick for head coach? When is he going to tell everyone? Was he really LOOKING for a coach, or is this just a “charade”?

Today’s big “scoop” comes from an article by Islanders beat writer Greg Logan of Newsday, regarding the search being narrowed down to the final three hopefuls. Truth be told, this info was sort of filtering its way through the Internet late yesterday as well, causing quite a stir in the blogosphere.

If you really want to know, yesterday Garth announced to one fan attending the Re/Max Open House that the new coach had indeed been chosen—and was standing next to him. “She’s right here!” Garth grinned from ear to ear, and I just played along. The man with the Sam Elliot mustache didn’t seem quite as amused as I was with Garth’s little joke.

When the man finally realized that there was no way that Mr. Snow was going to give him any further information, he moved along and I continued to chat with him. “Thank you SOOOO much for not hiring John Tortorella.” I said, completely serious.

“Why? You didn’t want him?” He looked down at me quizzically, as there is about a 12-inch height difference between us, even in my exceptionally high bright orange sandals.

“Tortorella is a good coach—he’s just not good for us.” I have thought this from day one and continued, “You put two strong personalities in one room, there’s sure to be fire. No, my personal choice would have to be Paul Maurice.”

“You don’t like Bob Hartley?” He seemed genuinely interested in my opinion. Too bad, I really didn’t have one. Wouldn’t you know…?

I wouldn’t’ know Bob Hartley if I fell over him. I’ve heard the name of course, and read some of the articles, but I don’t know enough about him to make any valid comments, especially not to the Islanders GM. Thank goodness he didn’t ask me what I thought about reported third coaching prospect, Scott Gordon from the Providence AHL team. I know even less about him.

Trying to think about how I was going to get out of this conversation without looking silly, I just stated my reasoning for thinking Maurice was the best candidate.

“I live surrounded by Islander Dynasty Era Die-Hards. I know for a fact that if you chose a coach who doesn’t have enough NHL experience, and those fans will be disgruntled. They will not accept that choice. You need an NHL coach, even though we will have a young team that will struggle. Maurice is 'grace under fire' and this would be a perfect place for his redemption.”

I could see he was giving my comments serious thought and needed to get a laugh in there quickly. “As long as he swallows that whistle of his that he uses for drills. It’s like nails on a chalk board; it will drive the players crazy.” Thank God! There was that smile of his. I was out of danger.

Maybe it will be Maurice, maybe it won’t be. Maybe it will be Bob Hartley, with his long-standing friendship with Garth Snow. If it’s Scott Gordon, then that’s who it will be. Although I believe brought up that Steve Stirling also was coach of the year—and we didn’t do too well under his regime.*(internet info correction:  Stirling won The Hockey News' Minor Pro Coach of the Year in 2001-2002. Details, details, details.)

But I also know Garth Snow and he just loves to surprise everyone. And as we have come to believe, it’s now HIS team and HE will make the decisions he sees fit. It wouldn’t shock me in the least if the name announced in the very near future isn’t even on this short list of candidates.

According to my 14-year old, who seems to just be repeating her father’s sentiments, she turned to me Friday night as I was driving her home and sneered “Why doesn’t Snow just appoint himself head coach?”

“He’s the GM. He can’t do both.” I said to her dismissing the idea as ludicrous.

“Why not?” she continued “Apparently, he’s ‘Superman’.” I laughed so hard, I missed our turn.