If the New York Islanders in year two of Ted Nolan's tenure take a major step backwards or if his message grows stale will he be fired?
I know on the surface that may seem a little absurd considering he took a team predicted by some to be 30th and produced a 92 point playoff team that put up a respectable fight against the President Trophy Winning Sabres. I also understand that Nolan was signed to a three year contract and that this is reportedly now a hockey board made up of Wang, Snow, Nolan, Trottier, Morrow....ect
I'm also still not sure about the 2006-07 Islanders, even if they took the ice with today's roster, they could be a good or bad team but I'm not writing this to project the club's outlook on August 2nd.
That said the trend for second year coaches here have not been good. Peter Laviolette's Islanders finished a game over five hundred, made the playoffs and was fired, despite Wang giving him an extension that season.
Steve Stirling produced a 91 point playoff team with many injuries as a rookie head coach (without shootouts) his club put up a respectable series with Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay. The following year (after the lockout with a lot of changes) it fell apart quickly and by January he was fired and again the coach was reportedly having problems with the players.
You want to go back to the dark days? Butch Goring got a max effort out of a young team as a rookie coach and won more than he was projected to. In year two it fell apart (for reasons other than Goring) and he was fired in March of his second season and the decision received a lot of criticism.
The question has to be asked if Nolan's way of doing things grows stale with the few remaining veterans and the new core group fails on the ice does this new management react the same way and fire the coach or hold the players accountable?
Some may argue this is standard practice in a results-oriented business, you don't win it's easier to fire one coach than twenty-odd players.
Personally this is one trend I think the new staff has to break from the days Milbury was gm, win or lose next season and that the players go before Nolan.
Ted Nolan's is good coach and what he did last season with a team some projected 30th was a quality job, especially after such a long time out of the league and validates his abilities. No one's sure what kind of coach Nolan is with a championship level club because he's not done that yet or with a team that takes significant steps backwards.
Nolan's well respected and knows how to get the most out of players and will almost always be an asset for a club, even if the roster is lacking things coaching cannot make up for. It's also clear Nolan's opinion of Alexei Yashin factored in his decision to be bought out when in the past Yashin likely won out over Laviolette and Stirling if there was dissention among them.
This is one trend I suggest Wang, Snow and whatever management they have making decisions break now and for the long-term. In my estimation Ted Nolan is part of the long-term solution for this franchise.