The fallout from the exits of Garth Snow and Doug Weight from the Islanders‘ high command — if nothing else — proves that Lou Lamoriello now has full power to rebuild the Islanders’ organization with his fingerprints all over it.
Lou will hire a head coach, will personally pick the under-staff and, perhaps, the other personnel close to John Tavares who’ll persuade the superstar to remain with the team.
In a late Tuesday afternoon conference call, Lamoriello — true to form — never spilled any secrets that would tip his hand on the next move, but he did reveal that the overall organization needs deodorizing.
When I asked him what was behind his thinking, Lou put it this way:
“In my opinion, a coaching change was needed. New voices are needed. I want a fresh face and fresh minds.”
As for Snow and Weight, Lamoriello lavished praise on them as “personal friends” and added that he has been picking their brains for insights into the team.
“I’m not afraid to reach out to them,” Lou asserted. “I’ve already done that. And that’s the way we’ll proceed.”
Pressed about his choice of a new coach by several media types, the new boss played a game of verbal handball and no questioner won.
“If we had the coach,” Lou said, “he’d be the coach now.”
Regarding the future of Tavares, Lou dismissed the fact that the removal of Snow and Weight from their positions was done with the captain in mind.
“He (Tavares) did not enter into any decisions that were made.”
“At this point (regarding the assistant coaching staff), everything is status quo.”
The thinking that Lou might invite one of his former coaches — perhaps a Scott Stevens — for the big job was dismissed out of hand.
“We’re going to take the best coach available,” he insisted. “I’ve been in the league long enough and I know coaches.
“There are different coaches for different teams, but if we had the coach, he’d be here. If I know him or not will not enter into my decision.”
Many observers are certain that the Isles’ new boss of bosses will instill his assorted rules on players and aides. One reporter suggested to Lou there would be a “culture change.” Lamoriello questioned the keyword.
“‘Culture,'” he shot back, “is a very overused word.”
As for the staff preparing for the upcoming Entry Draft, he made it clear that his bird dogs would be in charge of that area.
“I’m very comfortable with the scouting staff and the draft will be in the hands of the scouts,” he concluded.
Without receiving any clues from Lou, the press corps exited the session playing guessing games.
Nevertheless, attempts are being made to link some of Lou’s connections with potential choices.
Because of his past affiliation with Toronto’s farm team, the AHL Marlies, Lou might place that club’s oft-mentioned coach Sheldon Keefe near the top of his wish list.
“Keefe worked hand-in-hand with Lou in Toronto,” notes one scout. “And he’s young, only 37-years-old.”
Another possibility is Dennis (Red) Gendron who was a Devils assistant coach when New Jersey won its first Cup in 1995.
Gendron currently is the head coach at the University of Maine.
Retired Ken Hitchcock could be lured out of retirement while other graduates of the Lamoriello Academy might be tapped by the maestro.
Admitting no secrets, Lou bid au revoir to the press, leaving everyone secure in the knowledge of one thing — he’s boss and, as a result, just about anything can happen between now and training camp including a far-out coaching choice.
“I’m after the best coach we can get for the players we have. Not every coach is for every team. And not every team is for every coach.”