Nolan walks the plank
New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow announced today that Ted Nolan will not return next season as the team’s head coach. Nolan had one season remaining on his contract.
“Ted has helped us achieve some success over the last two seasons, however it has become clear that we have philosophical differences and have decided together to part ways,” said Snow. “Since last season and continuing into the summer, I have realized we do not share the same philosophies. I would like to thank Ted for his two years with the team and wish him the best.
“I have a list of several qualified candidates. After a thorough process, we will hire the very best coach to lead the Islanders on the ice.”
Added Nolan: “While I am disappointed I will not be coaching the Islanders next season, there have been philosophical differences and we’ve agreed it’s a good time for me to move on. I want to thank the Islanders organization for giving me a chance to coach in the NHL again. I have tremendous respect for what the team is trying to do and I wish them well.”>> team release
It had become painfully obvious last season, and definitely over the past few weeks, that Snow and Nolan weren't seeing eye to eye, and the firing doesn't come as any surprise. When you've got a former media relations VP blogging about the downright dysfunction between coach and GM, there's definitely a problem, and I would have bet good money on Nolan being the first coach to get the axe in 2008-09.
Then, yesterday, Greg Logan at Newsday read the tea leaves and put Nolan on the hot seat. The truth is, he'd been there for months.
Eleven years ago, when Nolan was turfed in Buffalo after feuding with GM John Muckler, he was seen as a difficult coach, despite all his talents, and it took nine years for him to get a sniff in the NHL.
Now, after another spat with his superior, it's quite possible we've seen the last of Nolan in the league.
There's no question the Islanders are running their team into the ground, and Nolan's biggest problem was that he simply couldn't bite his tongue as things disintegrated around him. Some of his, shall we say, outbursts in the press came awfully close to questioning his GM's authority, and that's not going to fly in any organization.
Especially not one with a rookie GM who is already struggling to gain credibility in the league.
UPDATE The biggest indication that this was an ill-timed decision? The Islanders' annual five-day rookie camp started on the very day the head coach was fired.
Nolan may have had to go, but it makes quite a bit more sense to fire him earlier in the off-season, if only so the organization doesn't miss out on the best candidates to replace him.
My guess is that John Tortorella, Paul Maurice and Bob Hartley are likely to be the names in the mix.