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Jim Cerny's Rink Rap


November 17, 2010 10:03 AM

Gordon Had No Chance on the Island

Scott Gordon.jpgDoes it seem logical and make sense that a National Hockey League coach is fired after two straight last-place finishes and in the midst of a ten-game losing streak in Year No. 3?

Absolutely. It makes perfect sense. And for that I believe Islanders GM Garth Snow was certainly justified in sacking head coach Scott Gordon on Monday morning.

However Gordon was not the problem on Long Island. Just as interim coach Jack Capuano will not be the problem beginning with this evening's home tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Islanders' issues start much further up the food chain than the head coach. And higher up than the general manager for that matter, as well.

For all of their good young talent---and make no mistake, the Isles do have a good group of talented youngsters both on their current roster and in the organizational pipeline---the Islanders are headed nowhere under the petty and penny-pinching ownership of Charles Wang.

Once hailed as the savior of the franchise---and rightfully so---at the start of his ownership tenure earlier this decade, Wang has now become a mirror image of some of the disasterous ownerships that preceded him, ones that I was more than well-acquainted with when I served as the club's play-by-play broadcaster.

There was the unfortunate end of the John Pickett regime. There was the embarrassing tenure of the Howard Milstein group, led by clueless hatchet man David Seldin. The "Gang of Four", whose names I can't even remember they were in and out so fast. And of course Gary Bettman's personal black eye, John Spano, a fraud with hardly a dime in his pocket who was personally endorsed by the commisioner of the NHL.

It was embarrassing to be an Islander for all of those years---whether being an Islander meant as a player, a coach, an employee, or more importantly, a fan. The team was mismanaged, a last-place guarantee year after year on the ice, and played to an empty house on a regular basis at the Nassau Coliseum.

Sound familiar?

Sure it does because history is repeating itself these past several years under Wang's stewardship.

Listen, he helped build this franchise back up, and it wasn't too long ago that under his guidance the Islanders were back in the playoffs and the old barn in Hempstead was rocking again. But those days are gone, and I can't envision them coming back.

Wang either wants his Lighthouse real estate project---which includes a new arena, retail, and hotels---to be approved by the Town of Hempstead or he wants out, spending the absolute bare minimum on his team until his lease is up at the Coliseum.

It's his money, so it's his decision. But in the meantime he is holding Islanders fans---what few of them actually still care---captive.

And a good man, and solid coach, like Gordon is given absolutely no chance to win with the roster he is handed. Then he is fired when the team doesn't win. Same will hold true for Capuano for as long as he is here. And the next coach, probably another minor league guy because they are the least expensive to pay, will face the same the situation down the road.

It's going to get worse before it get's better, too. Wang is committed to not spending much more in player salary than what the CBA mandates as the bare minimum. Heck, the Islanders only reach the salary cap floor because they still have Alexei Yashin's buyout on the books.

And what of John Tavares? Remember him? First overall pick in 2009. The player the Islanders craved to build around and center all of their off-ice marketing strategies around?

What of Tavares today? He has a respectable 10 points in 14 games, but his relevance on the National Hockey League landscape has just vanished. This is a guy, similar to a Steven Stamkos, who should be one of the faces of the new NHL. Instead he is adrift on the Island. There can't be a week that goes by that he doesn't speak to his agent or his family about the day that he can finally become a free agent and quickly flee to another organization.

This story could go on and on. But the bottom line point as it regards to Scott Gordon's firing is that yes, the Islanders were justified in letting their head coach go.

But Scott Gordon never had a chance to succeed in the first place.

Follow Me On Twitter: @jimcerny

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