As was broke on the Show last night, the New York Islanders officially announced Neil Smith as their new GM, Ted Nolan as their new head coach, as well as Pat LaFontaine as senior advisor to owner Charles Wang. LaFontaine joins Bryan Trottier as another former Islander in the front office, as Trottier was named the executive director of player development last week.
It took a long time for the Islanders to name their new GM and coach, with many wondering if they were holding out for Peter Laviolette. However, once Peter Karmonos said he would keep Laviolette at all cost, the Isles worked quickly to get both Smith and Nolan into Long Island. Both have proven track records of winning, with Smith helping to bring the Rangers their first Cup in 54 years and Nolan winning the Jack Adams Award in his first year.
For Nolan, the controversy that has followed him kept him out of hockey for eight years, finally re-surfacing with the Moncton Wildcats this season. Due to a tiff with Dominik Hasek and then GM John Muckler, Nolan was booted after Muckler was fired in lieu of Darcy Reiger. Since then, no one would take a chance on Nolan. Now, he has his chance to redeem himself for that. Yet, it won't come easy since it wasn't Smith's decision to hire him, but Charles Wang's decision. We'll see how that all comes about, but Pierre McGuire thinks it could cause some problems.
Smith will get a chance to come back to the Islanders after starting his front office career as a scout for the Islanders. Even though Smith was the one responsible for building the team to win the Cup in '94, he was also the one to start the signing of high-price, low-reward talent in his tenure before he was fired in 2000 for Glen Sather. However, the one thing that Smith has going is his eye for talent. In a time where young talented players are going to be crucial to a team's make-up, Smith should be able to regain his glory days he enjoyed with the other New York team.
As for Trottier and LaFontaine, I don't know what to think. After a failed head coaching attempt, Trottier is just looking to bounce back it seems and you may as go back to where your home is. As for LaFontaine, it's a chance for him to see if he wants to go deeper into the hockey operation side of things, but for a guy who didn't know if he wanted to be into the off-ice side, it may just be a feeling out stage. As well, it doesn't hurt to have some former legends to help boost the team's buzz.
If anything, this will be the first step away from the Mike Milbury era of things in the Islanders organization. With all that Milbury has done wrong, it's hard to see what he did right...though there wasn't much done for the good side of things. The Isles need something to help revitalize their tarished accomplishments. With a possible new arena in the balance, the team will have have some pretty big performances in order to sway the idea of putting a lot of money into a sinking ship.