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Schwartz: Next Coach Question Is Just Tip Of The Iceberg For Islanders

By Peter Schwartz
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One could certainly nitpick about the timing of the Islanders firing head coach Jack Capuano on Tuesday.

That it came after Monday's 4-0 win over the Bruins in Boston, arguably their best game of the season, was just a tad bit bizarre.

It certainly could have happened at other times earlier in the season that may have seemed more appropriate. That said, though, when it happened is actually irrelevant. Overdue or not, it was the right move for the Islanders because Capuano probably took the Islanders about as far as could be expected.

MORELast-Place Islanders Fire Coach Jack Capuano

But it better be just the start of the team's reconstruction of hockey operations. New co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have some more work to do because the Islanders' problems aren't going to go away just because general manager Garth Snow made Capuano the fall guy.

Snow, himself, should be on the hot seat because the roster is his responsibility. The offseason moves, as well as many during his tenure, backfired and in some cases set the franchise back.

Yet, amazingly, Snow will spearhead the search for a new coach. It has already been reported that the Islanders have received permission to talk to former Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant. Doug Weight's tenure as interim coach might not last that long if the Isles can hammer things out with Gallant, who led the Panthers to the Atlantic Division title last season before losing, ironically, to the Isles in the first round of the playoffs.

This franchise has so many issues to deal with other than hiring a new head coach. Let's examine them:

Commanders-in-Chief: Ledecky and Malkin have reportedly been looking around to hire a new team president, whose task it would be to re-shape the future of this franchise.

The first task for whoever is hired just might be determining who will be the general manager. t really is time to let Snow go. Let's be honest, Snow had no business transitioning from backup goalie to GM when former owner Charles Wang hired him in 2006 in the wake of Neil Smith leaving after only about five whole minutes on the job. The fact that Snow is still around 11 years later is just mind-boggling.

If the Islanders don't make the playoffs, or maybe even if they do, Snow has to go, too.

Will JT stay or go?: At a town hall meeting with Islanders fans back in July, Ledecky made it clear that he intended to re-sign John Tavares, who can become a free agent after next season.

"He's not going to be a free agent," Ledecky said that night.

MORECapellini: Islanders Cannot Let Greiss Get Anywhere Near Free Agency

At the time, I believed the new co-owner. Today, I'm not so sure. I think the Islanders will need more than money to keep their captain. A couple of solid wingers and a good plan would be a good start.

John Tavares
The Islanders' John Tavares (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Decide on a home: After 43 years at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders are in the second season of a 25-year lease at Barclays Center. However, given the opt-out clause that both the team and the arena can exercise, there's still a question as to where the Islanders will play long term. There have been reports about building an arena either next to Belmont Park or next to Citi Field. The Islanders could also just go back to the renovated Nassau Coliseum or they can stay put in Brooklyn.

Ledecky and Malkin need to figure out where home will be so that potential free agents or acquisitions know what the deal is.

Speak up: To this point, we haven't heard much publicly from Ledecky and Malkin. Ledecky has been the face of the ownership group, but he hasn't been very vocal about the hockey team. He spoke to the media over the summer after the ownership change, to the fans at the town hall meeting, at the Al Arbour memorial ceremony, and in a statement honoring longtime broadcaster Jiggs McDonald. I don't think Malkin has been quoted since the announcement of the sale in 2014.

I think ownership owes it to the fans to do a few interviews and let everyone know what they're thinking.

In closing, Capuano is the second-winningest coach in Islanders history behind Arbour. I think he is a good coach and was very passionate about what he tried to do. However, I never thought he would be the guy to lead this team to a Stanley Cup. I don't think he should be made a scapegoat for this season, but I agree that a change had to be made.

But this team has needed more than simply an ownership change. It needs the right man to make hockey decisions, someone who is going to acquire top-notch players. The Isles also must get a commitment from their captain and the questions about where they will play need to cease.

Why not start with a state-of-the-franchise address from ownership?

Because it just seems like fans of this team are always waiting on someone. That needs to stop.

Don't forget to follow Pete on Twitter at @pschwartzcbsfan

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