The New York Islanders pulled out a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night after having blown a 3-0 lead headed into the third period.
The Islanders still find themselves in last place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference, and are only one point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche for last overall.
Did last night’s win, however dramatic it may have been, save Jack Capuano’s job?
“Well, look – maybe,” began NHL Insider Darren Dreger on Montreal’s TSN 690 Thursday morning. “And there’s always the possibility of sudden change. I think we’ve experienced that enough, certainly not long ago in Florida with the firing of Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly. But my sense from Islanders people is that Jack Capuano’s job is safe and the outcome of last night’s game wouldn’t have really made a difference. Now, if they get blown out on home ice, perhaps that changes everything.
“But there’s still resolve and complete faith from the general manager, Garth Snow, in Jack Capuano. But, and there’s always a but in these conversations, if new ownership – Ledecky and Malkin – step in and say, ‘Hey Garth, we’ve got to do something because we didn’t invest heavily in a 30th place team. And oh yeah, we’ve got John Tavares, who next year is going into the final year of his contract with us, to sit at the bottom of the National Hockey League. We need to make some changes.’
“Then perhaps Snow has to get active and make a change. But until that happens – and I’m not convinced he would make the change if that happens – but I feel like that’s the only way that maybe Snow fires his coach.”
Tavares could, if he wanted, sign a contract extension with the Islanders as early as July 1. The captain has said repeatedly in interviews that he wants to remain an Islander for life, despite the rampant speculation that would like to see him sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs or elsewhere.
The tone in the conversation surrounding Tavares’ future with the franchise has certainly shifted at least slightly given the early-season failings of the team.
Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun covered this topic last week, and you can read their full quotes in context for yourself.
“I know that John Tavares doesn’t feel like he signed up anywhere in the National Hockey League to be on a last place team,” said McKenzie on Wednesday of last week.
Dreger was asked about this topic on TSN 690 Thursday morning as well.
“This one’s a little different bit than even, say, a year ago when the Stamkos watch really kicked into full gear because at least I believe at that point with Steven Stamkos that it was more likely he was going to stay in Tampa,” noted Dreger. “Because above all else, he wanted a chance to win a Stanley Cup championship and that’s as good with the Tampa Bay Lightning, when healthy, as anywhere in the National Hockey League. And the term and the money is ultimately going to look after itself.
“So here’s how I view the Islanders’ situation with Tavares. Yes, of course he wants to stay there. He takes great pride in being the captain of the Islanders. But this organization has to show him a better direction. They have to show him that they’re committed to winning and that they’re going to make the right decisions and do the right things to put this team into a contending position.
“The problem is they’ve got what, 19 months to do that? I mean, Garth Snow can’t engage until July 1 in talking about a contract extension and I can’t see any way that John Tavares bites on an extension prior to late next season at the earliest. And why wouldn’t he go into July free agency in 2017 and see what the open market looks like. I mean, that’s good business sense and there’ll be a long list of teams that are probably a better fit to contend for a Stanley Cup in the near future than perhaps the Islanders might be.”
Source: TSN 690
For reference: Covering the Insiders