When Ted Nolan was fired, I was rather shocked. Coaches usually aren't fired in mid-July, and I figured Nolan was doing decently enough with a rather poor Isles squad.
Then, our own Mirtle M.D. pointed me to this blog post, written on July 6th, by Chris Botta, a man who worked within the Isles organization for 20 years. Apparently, tensions have been brewing for a few months, and the parting of ways between coach and team shouldn't be as surprising as I thought.
Right now, there isn't much of a relationship between Ted and Islanders management. Despite Ted's success as a coach in junior, I don't believe the Islanders are confident he really buys into the youth movement.
The other tall hurdle is the immense damage from last season. From March 1 on, when the ship was sinking, awkward moments came daily. You didn't have to be the PR director of the team to see the stains.
It seems that Nolan was quick to point the finger, all too often, at his boss for putting out a poor lineup, rather than do what a head coach should do and take the brunt of the criticism. Unfair, but part of the job description.
After the jump: FanHouse bloggers discuss the firing and Nolan's future.
Mirtle: Bah, I knew I should have called this earlier, especially after reading that Botta post.
Jes Golbez: Given that no Isles player topped 50 points, I'm amazed they did as well as they did.
Unfortunately, the first thought that did come to mind was Nolan being a "GM Killer". He certainly knows how to get himself fired.
Kevin Schultz: Yeah. He wasn't playing nice in the media the whole spring. Neither of them were, but Ted was asking to be fired. You don't say and do all the things he did and not know what you're doing.
Jes Golbez: Is it unfair to instinctively label Nolan with "GM Killer" in this situation? Perhaps, but you know that many league execs will be having the same thoughts.
As good as a coach Nolan is, he has shown that he is hard to work with. He fought with Muckler in Buffalo, and now Snow on Long Island. That's 2/2.
Is Nolan going to have to wait another 10 years for his next coaching gig?
Earl Sleek: The L.A. Kings could use a coach that is used to working with pennies and nickels.
C'mon, Kings. Do it!
Kevin Schultz: It's hard to imagine him going another ten years. He's obviously had success on Long Island. No one thought this team would do anything the last two years and they've surprised everyone both times. Granted they finished 13th this year, but they were in the playoffs the whole year until a late collapse. They were in 6th in late December.
He clearly has a problem working with GMs. That much is obvious. I hate to tell people to change but I think that this is a case where if he doesn't change, this is going to keep happening time and again. He almost didn't get a second chance and it's hard to imagine him getting third and fourth chances if this keeps happening.
The honeymoon sure was over fast on Long Island. Fans were excited to see what this guy could do (When's the last time that happened on LI?) and only 18 months later he was saying and doing all the wrong things. He was talking and acting like a guy who wanted out. How it went so wrong so fast is only for those on the inside to know. That being said, right now, all that's going for him in this respect is that two is a small sample size.
Jes Golbez: Well, I would say two is not a small sample size in the small world of the NHL. Relationships are important, and lots of gossip flies between the few who get to work within NHL clubs. If Snow is badmouthing Nolan to his peers, you can bet that'll scare off some GM's.
Eric McErlain: Can we take a moment to recognize the master of this mess -- Charles Wang. What happened today was merely the final act of the power struggle that started when Wang devised his bizarre power-sharing structure after the hiring of Neil Smith as GM and Pat Lafontaine as his "personal advisor" just about two years ago.
People can't seem to get along when they're working for Wang -- or at least when they're working for Wang and he isn't clear about who's really in charge.
Bruce Ciskie: This is where the college hockey fan in me just takes a shot at Garth Snow, but I'm above that. Plus the Islander fans don't want to hear the truth, anyway.
Nolan's finished, in all likelihood. His only chance is if a team desperate for change takes a chance on him, and there's no way of knowing if Nolan would be interested in just taking any old NHL job at this point.
As for Snow and Wang (they're both involved in this process, after all), for the Islanders' sake, let's hope they find a solid coach and let him be a part of this for the long haul. That's what they need. Patience. Develop these young players and try to build a contender.
Jes Golbez: Apparently, the whole fight was mostly about Snow wanting to go with the youth moment (which they should) and Nolan wanting to win now.
You have to understand why Nolan thinks the way he does ... How many teams are as patient as the Nashville Predators are with Barry "No Neck" Trotz?
Teams often claim that they are in a '3-5 year plan', but once the ticket holders get antsy, the coach is the first to go. It's rare where a coach is actually given all 5 years to see the plan through, and Nolan knew that.