After 10 straight losses, Scott Gordon took the fall for his struggling club.
As first reported on newsday.com, Gordon was relieved of his duties as coach of the Islanders Monday morning. Gordon will remain on staff in an advisory role to general manager Garth Snow, while Bridgeport coach Jack Capuano has taken over as the Islanders' interim coach.
Assistant coaches Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen will stay with the team in their current capacities. Bridgeport assistant Pat Bingham will assume head coaching duties for the team's AHL affiliate.
"You've got to go with your gut and my gut told me we needed a change," Snow said. "Time will tell if that was the right decision."
One day after the team's return from a discouraging West Coast trip, Snow met with players around 10:30 a.m. to inform them of the decision. The Islanders are tied with Edmonton for the fewest points in the NHL (11) and have only 37 goals in 17 games. Only New Jersey and Toronto have scored fewer.
"No one likes to lose 10 games in a row and, the fact is, we have," Snow said. "Something needed to change."
After Snow delivered the news, captain Doug Weight held a 20-minute meeting with the players before practice.
"It's never a good day and I think what disappoints us, too, is that we're a team that's losing and that's underachieving," Weight said. "Make no bones about it, no one in that room thinks it's all Gordon's fault."
The Islanders, who got off to a 4-2-1 start, ended the trip with a 5-1 loss to the Kings on Saturday night, a game in which they came out flat and struggled to compete against the Western Conference leaders.
"That factors in, absolutely," Snow said. "There were some games [recently] that we probably deserved to win that we didn't. It wasn't a decision that came easy but . . . we lost 10 in a row and something had to give."
The team just completed a brutal stretch of 12 of 15 games on the road, where their record is 2-8-2; the Islanders will play 11 of their next 16 games at home.
Despite the myriad hurdles facing Gordon this season - a taxing road schedule, several key injuries and the second-lowest payroll in the league - he refused to make excuses for the team's performance.
"Whenever you're in a situation that we were in - not having won in 10 games - you can very easily expect the unexpected," Gordon told Newsday when reached by telephone Monday morning. "I enjoyed working with Garth and [team owner] Charles [Wang]. They've been great to me. I'm always going to remember that as my first opportunity. As someone who had no NHL head-coaching experience, I'll forever be appreciative of that."
Gordon was in the third year of a three-year contract. In two-plus seasons, Gordon had a 64-94-23 coaching record - the lowest points percentage in the NHL.
Although it was speculated that Chynoweth was the likely choice in the event of Gordon's dismissal, Snow elected to appoint Capuano as interim coach.
Capuano, 44, has a 133-100-8-14 record as coach of the Sound Tigers and has been with the organization since the 2005-06 season.
"For me, with Jack there is a certain comfort in knowing that he's familiar with the head-coaching day-to-day responsibilities and decisions," Snow said. "Also knowing that he has the familiarity with this team, whether it be from training camp or players playing for him in Bridgeport. All those were ingredients that factored into the decision."
Capuano, who will make his head coaching debut Wednesday against Tampa Bay, led the team's practice in Syosset Monday.
"It's not the ideal situation because I have great respect for Scott," Capuano said. "But obviously there was a change and I'm going to make the best of the opportunity."