Waking up to find one's self in agreement with Larry Brooks is a bit like waking up to an empty bottle of Jack Daniels on the nightstand and a one-nighter from a Jersey Shore dance club in the bed. You feel disgusting, yet oddly satisfied.
In today's NY Post, Brooks explains in rather candid terms what the Ted Nolan Defense League refuses to believe: That a very good coach, whose team squeaked into the eight seed once in two years, is not bigger than his players or bigger than management or bigger than the franchise.
Brooks believes Nolan's downfall began with mismanagement of Rick DiPietro, the team's undisputed franchise player:
Nolan also clearly misunderstood his rung on the organizational ladder in becoming enmeshed in a public fight with Snow during the first week in March after snubbing DiPietro twice in three days against the Rangers. It was an absurd move, one designed to make a statement of power by embarrassing the franchise's favorite son, no matter how many other which ways the head coach attempted to frame it.
It became too much about Ted; became too much about Ted Nolan-type players. Every team can use the prototypical Nolan overachiever, but no team can progress from the bottom half of the league when more limited hard-hat players get their ice time at the expense of young, raw talents in need of nurturing.
That last point can't be stressed enough. The Islanders TOI numbers skew towards "Nolan-type players" and away from the future of the franchise, in what was a lost season. All due respect to Miroslav Satan, but on a team that's 15 points out of the postseason there's no reason why his TOI (18:19) should dramatically eclipse that of Jeff Tambellini (10:25, 31 games), Blake Comeau (11:40, 51 games) and Sean Bergenheim (11:15, 78 games). They're the future; he was a lame duck.
The reactions to Nolan's firing, however, have been all over the map. Some blame him; others have their knives out for GM Garth Snow.
• Greg Logan of Newsday has player reactions from Islanders like Bill Guerin, Mike Sillinger (seething right now), Brendan Witt and DiPietro. Money quote from Witt on the timing: "I would have thought he'd be coaching us this year. If we started bad or struggled, then, management would have decided to do what most managements do when you're struggling early in the year."
• Logan also dropped this bombshell in Newsday: The Islanders gave Nolan written permission to interview with other teams after the season, but he didn't get any bites. That goes beyond the writing on the wall; that's a billboard on I-95 right there.
• My buddy and frequent sparring partner James Mirtle is running for VP of the Ted Nolan Defense League: "There's no question the Islanders are running their team into the ground, and Nolan's biggest problem was that he simply couldn't bite his tongue as things disintegrated around him." He also questions the timing of the team's split with Nolan, seeing as how it came at the start of "the Islanders' annual five-day rookie camp." Which would indicate why Nolan and Snow met. This comment would also seem to indicate James believes Nolan was fired by the Islanders, which isn't the case.
• I am unaware of the Rev. Zamboni of The Palm Isle, but a headline like "My patience with dumb Islanders bloggers and fans is wearing thin" is rather eye-catching. So is his case that Nolan was overrated and that "Peter Laviolette was a better coach."
• Kevin Schultz of BMR believes that neither Snow nor Nolan come off well in this split, but the bottom line is that "if all mommy and daddy do is fight, they probably should find other people."
• From the Isles blogosphere: Netminder 39 wants to wait and see if the new coach is an improvement; Islanders Army believes "the wrong guy lost" and that the team's bar for success is at an all-time low; and Islanders Outsider has a terrific analysis about a clash of two prideful individuals that manages to reference Henry Fonda and Willie Randolph. It also includes perhaps my favorite line of the day so far: "On the other hand, dismissing Nolan may have been the most general managery thing Snow has done."
• Zach, a Rangers fan, thinks this firing puts the Islanders on the fast track to John Tavares in next year's draft.
• As far as potential new coaches for the team, Steve Ovadia lists Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice and John Tortorella; and he seems to prefer Hartley's ability to "take the Islanders various parts and cobble them into cohesive lines."
• Finally, here's Ted Nolan on Ted Nolan, in which he floats the idea that he could go back to coach junior hockey. Where, of course, it can be all about Ted Nolan again.