Garth Snow’s decision on a new head coach came down to three choices:
Bob Hartley: The Dangerous Choice.
Paul Maurice: The Safe Choice.
Scott Gordon: The People’s Choice.
Anointing Scott Gordon the 'People's Choice" is not the result of a scientific survey but a logical conclusion based on digesting hundreds of message board and blog posts. Ladies and gentlemen, we have harmony.
At least, in choosing Gordon to lead the Islanders, the front office has acted in concert with the wishes of the majority of fans.
No, not everyone is thrilled—but if the early returns are to be believed, many of those in the fan base who preferred Bob Hartley or Paul Maurice admit that Gordon is a reasonable choice and deserves the opportunity to prove himself.
Personally, I am very pleased with the decision. I buy into the idea of bringing in someone with a fresh perspective on the NHL.
Gordon has paid his dues as a hockey coach. He is not, at the age of 45 and with 12 seasons of coaching experience in the professional ranks, wet behind the ears. All NHL coaches have to break into the league sometime.
At this point, Gordon has all the potential in the world. He is in a position to create something rather than live up to something. And based on his reputation and Garth Snow's comments, he is poised to harness the team's current strengths and give the Islanders their best chance to win with what they have now and in the future.
My only advice to those who would have preferred someone else is this—we may all have to start thinking like goalies for a while.
Fairly or unfairly, Hartley was saddled with the notion that he lost a team in Atlanta. Having won a Stanley Cup with veterans and superstars in Colorado, he was a questionable fit for a team with few players in their prime.
Fairly or unfairly, Snow would have been criticized for hiring the coach with whom he previously had the most-developed relationship. All of these points make for good discussion when there is little hard news. None of them were likely keys to Snow's decision.
Maurice had the benefit of a reputation for effectively developing young talent. He also has 10 seasons of NHL heading coaching experience under his belt. And he's still only 41. It's difficult to form a convincing argument against his candidacy, but Snow needed to hit a home run with this hire. Maybe Maurice was a triple.
Gordon's candidacy benefited from the fact that he has never lost an NHL game. As I said before, as an NHL coach he has all the potential in the world, and virtually none of the baggage that tinges perceptions of everyone already in the league.
If you want to grab the brass ring of expectations, he will implement a defensive system that will protect Rick DiPietro while giving the goalie and the team their best chance to be successful.
I think we will find that the Islanders are in good hands.