by Michael Sutter
On Jan. 17, Islanders coach Jack Capuano was fired after a lackluster 17-17-8 start to the season. It marked the end of a disappointing seven-year run, which included one playoff series victory over three playoff appearances.
For fans, it felt as though no amount of failure would cause Capuano to be fired. General manager Garth Snow is rumored to have been pressured into the decision by new team owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin.
Assistant coach Doug Weight was named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2017 season. Since then, the Islanders have won six straight games and appear to be reenergized and rejuvenated. Those games include wins against the Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, who are among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
In spite of their rough start to the season, the Islanders find themselves only 3 points out of a playoff spot behind the Philadelphia Flyers. A playoff appearance would almost definitely erase the negative atmosphere surrounding the season and would likely allow Doug Weight to return as head coach next season.
Change is coming on a very different level for the team as rumors emerge that the Barclays Center may terminate the Islanders’ lease on the building. Ledecky and Malkin have discussed plans to build a new hockey arena in Queens near Citi Field, which is the current home of the New York Mets.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is open to having the Islanders return to the Nassau Coliseum where they played from 1972 to 2015, stating that “[the county believes] Long Island fans will make the Islanders successful in the New Coliseum.” The Coliseum has been closed for renovations since 2015 and seeks to reopen this April with a Billy Joel concert.