Fri Jul 25 09:52am EDT
The names being tossed around in the media echo chamber make it clear that the New York Islanders intend to follow Ted Nolan with a known commodity: Paul Maurice, Bob Hartley and now John Tortorella, who is expected to meet Sunday with Islanders GM Garth Snow.
Damian Cristodero of Lightning Strikes covered Torts for the St. Pete Times, and doesn't believe he's the right fit on the Island:
I have no inside information here, but from the outside looking in, this just doesn't seem like a good fit for either side. Of course, that means he will be hired. Still, look at the circumstances. The Islanders have a bunch of young players and older players and not much in between. It also is known Snow wants to see the young guys develop, and the main criticism that emerged last season about Torts was that the Lightning's younger players did not respond to his finger-in-the-chest approach. It also will be interesting to see how much control Snow is willing to give Torts. One thing that would be a huge plus for Torts is how good he would be in the community.
The first part of this assessment is spot-on. Tortorella would be a perfect Islanders coach three years from now, when players like Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau have ripened and the team is ready to contend. He's a closer.
The thought of temperamental Tortorella going from a Stamkos Sweepstakes Tampa Bay Lightning team to an Islanders' squad that could be lottery-bound for the next two seasons is frightening; the notion that he'd need to extend his patience and consideration to the team's suddenly egocentric power structure is inconceivable. My colleague Ross McKeon had the right idea this morning: Collect the $1.3 million and take some time away from the NHL, Torts.
Cristodero's final point, however, is the key one for me: community. Yes, he'd immediately give the Islanders an identity behind the bench. A lot of good that did Ted Nolan, whose desire for more influence hastened his departure.
Besides, it's the wrong community for Tortorella: If there's an unofficial manifest destiny in the NHL, it's that he's going to be the head coach of the New York Rangers one day. While he's denied rumors about the gig, he's the "finish the job" guy the Blueshirts will likely turn to when Tom Renney's clock strikes midnight. Tortorella's personality, his approach and his history with the team make him tailor-made for the Garden.
Tortorella on the Island would be like Phil Jackson coaching the Clippers instead of the Lakers. If the Clippers had won four consecutive NBA titles in the 1980s, of course.