The stumbling, bumbling New York Islanders have marked yet another notch on the old coaching stick, apparently sending Mike Stirling off to semi-retirement half way through the NHL season. A little company for Ed Olcyck at the Unemployment office, as those teams floundering in the standings begin to hit that panic button and look for a solution, any solution to shake things up.
Inside sources on Long Island have given the media the heads up on an announcement Thursday, that Mike Milbury GM of the sad sack Isles will claim coach number eight with the departure of Stirling.
Milbury is one of those rare GM's who never seem to be held accountable for the troubles their teams face, like his counterpart in Boston, Milbury has faced more than enough controversy while at the helm of the Islanders and yet somehow lives to trade and fire another day.
He's traded away enough front line players (hello Todd Bertuzzi, Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Mike Peca, Ziggy Palffy, Roberto Luongo among many) to take a normal team deep into a playoff run. In return he's acquired such legendary laggards as Alexi Yashin, a guy who has shown much promise over the years, but little in the way of heart to go deep into a post season. The most telling of events of late the trading of then Captain Peca to Edmonton and handing the C over to Yashin who has not produced the required leadership such a move would expect.
It's expected that Milbury will promote from within to fill the spot on a temporary basis, with farm coach Brad Shaw the most likely candidate. It's said that Milbury will be offering Stirling another position somewhere in the organization. The only question is does Shaw or anyone else really want the job, rumours on Long Island have it that Brent Sutter of Junior gold medal fame might be offered the job in the offseason (run Brent, run, run run away) but would he want to walk into a mess like this, lets face it job security is not exactly job one at Islander central.
Over the years Milbury has removed almost a coach a year from behind the bench on Long Island, including removing himself from the position twice. In surely what must be a record for instability or incompetence.
The good news for Stirling if he's looking for silver linings, is that the last coach Peter Laviolette landed on his feet quite nicely. Laviolette left Mike and the mayhem of the Islanders, for what appears to pass for sanity in North Carolina. Laviolette's Hurricanes are presently the darlings of the NHL having recently dispensed with the Detroit Red Wings to move to one point behind Ottawa in the Eastern conference.
Funny, good enough for first in Carolina, but not good enough to coach a most underperforming team in New York. Something makes me think that the troubles on Long Island don't rest with the many versions of the coaching staff.
Update and correction: Update, Jan 12/06. Charles Wang owner of the New York Islanders announced that Mike Milbury would relinquish the General Managers chair as soon as a suitable replacement could be found. Milbury will move upstairs as they say, to a position overseeing all of Mr. Wangs entertainment properties. Correction. In the above item, we stated that Brad Shaw would replace Mr. Stiriling from the Islanders farm club, correctly he takes over from his assistant coach position.