The New Islanders relieved Jack Capuano of his head coaching duties and named Doug Weight as interim head coach, the team announced on Tuesday.
The news comes one day removed from the Islanders’ 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins during a matinee game between the clubs — their second victory in the past six contests and 17th of the season. The Islanders have struggled in 2016-17 and are in eighth place in the Metropolitan Division with a 17-17-8 record.
Usually when a coach is fired after a win, it means decision was already made and just question of timing with a break in sked or something.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 17, 2017
Capuano, 50, was in the middle of his seventh season with the organization and was just one season removed from helping the Islanders advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Capuano is second on #Isles all-time list behind Al Arbour in games coached (482) and wins (227)
— Jon Lane (@JonLaneNHL) January 17, 2017
The Islanders followed a 47-win regular season in 2014-15 with a 45-win campaign the following year but are well behind that pace after 42 games in the current season, having won just 17 games.
“It’s an honor to have served this historic franchise and its passionate fans,” Capuano said in a press release from the Islanders on Tuesday. “I’d like to thank (general manager) Garth (Snow) and our ownership group for the opportunity to be the Head Coach of the Islanders. I’d also like to recognize our coaching staff, training staff and players for all of their hard work.”
While Capuano has been removed from his post behind the Isles’ bench, questions have also been raised about the direction of the franchise outside of the head coaching position after seemingly turning the corner in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Snow said his responsibility is, "100 percent …Obviously, I'm not hiding from the fact it starts with me."
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 17, 2017
Forwards Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen combined for 42 goals and 74 assists last season — second and third on the team in scoring behind John Tavares — but each darted for long-term contracts with other clubs in free agency this offseason.
The Islanders opted to sign Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera this summer but they have combined for just 16 goals and 12 assists — far from the offensive output expected of these players in their first season in Brooklyn.
Tavares has also been feeling the effects of all the changes, as his 32 points in 42 games put him on pace for his lowest full-season output since he tallied 24 goals and 30 assists in 82 games during his rookie season in 2010-11.
With Weight set to handle the head coaching duties on an interim basis right now, the attention turns to finding who will become the next head coach of the Islanders and discussion about whether or not owner Jeff Ledecky has other changes in mind for the future of his franchise.
Penguins’ Cullen Out 3-to-4 Weeks
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen will be out three-to-four weeks with a foot injury, according to Sam Werner with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday.
Sullivan says Matt Cullen out approximately 3-4 weeks after taking a shot off the foot last night.
— Sam Werner (@sjwerner11) January 17, 2017
The 40-year-old veteran was injured during the Penguins’ wild 8-7 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals on Monday — a game that snapped a three-game losing streak for the Pens while halting the Capitals’ run of nine straight victories.
Cullen has tallied eight goals and nine assist in 43 games this season after opting to re-sign with the Penguins for one year this past summer. A veteran leader and often relied upon to take faceoffs in key situations, Cullen was an important part of the Penguins’ run to the Stanley Cup last season — the second championship of his career after previously winning the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
The Penguins are also dealing with an injury to top defenseman Kris Letang, who is considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve on Monday. However, Brian Dumoulin returned to practice on Tuesday, skating with the team in a green no-contact jersey. He’s been out of the lineup since undergoing surgery to repair a broken jaw in December but has not yet been cleared for game action.
Sullivan on Dumoulin: "Obviously that's a big step that he joined the team in practice. He's getting a lot closer." https://t.co/oIneGLVtY5 pic.twitter.com/W5vrsOl2Hh
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 17, 2017
Canucks’ Hutton Out 3-to-6 Weeks
The Vancouver Canucks will be without defenseman Ben Hutton for three-to-six weeks as he recovers from a small fracture in his hand, the team announced on Tuesday.
Hutton injury update: He has a small fracture in his hand and his timeline is three-to-six weeks. pic.twitter.com/h8m7kKgrCx
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 17, 2017
The 23-year-old blueliner has registered four goals and seven assists in 41 games this season and has logged big minutes for the club through the first half of the season. His 20:59 of average ice time per contest are third on the team behind only Alex Edler and Troy Stecher.
Hutton has been out of the lineup since he blocked a shot with his hand against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 6.
Hutton in pain after blocking a shot with his left hand – not a good night for the #Canucks blueline! pic.twitter.com/RQov0CdhyR
— Vanessa Jang (@vanessajang) January 7, 2017
It’s another major blow to the Canucks’ blue line as they’ve also dealt with injuries to Edler, Erik Gudbranson and Christopher Tanev this season. Gudbranson is on injured reserve with a wrist injury and there hasn’t been an estimate made on his return time.
The Canucks are just two points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Odds and Ends
— The San Jose Sharks placed forward Joonas Donskoi on injured reserve and recalled Tim Heed, Ryan Carpenter and Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Barracuda (American Hockey League) on Tuesday.
#SJSharks recall Tim Heed, @CarpyDeuces, and @bgoodrow23 from the @sjbarracuda and place Joonas Donskoi on IR. https://t.co/MX0EkI94SR pic.twitter.com/fJ21pNnVdv
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 17, 2017
— The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Jake Dotchin from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL). The announcement comes after Victor Hedman was out of the lineup with an illness during the Lightning’s 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Depending upon Hedman’s status, it’s possible Dotchin makes his NHL debut when the team takes on the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
We have recalled Jake Dotchin from the @SyracuseCrunch. https://t.co/57k4ZMPfdz
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 17, 2017
— The Sharks had some fun with Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and the teammates’ impressive beards in a commercial the team posted to their Twitter account on Monday. Check it out!
We cheer for impressive beards.#SharksForLife pic.twitter.com/c7pr9HLtbR
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 16, 2017