The Islanders concluded their exit interviews Thursday, with general manager Garth Snow, coach Jack Capuano and his staff finishing up the business of the 2014-15 season.
That was the first indication that Snow has no intention of replacing Capuano, assistants Doug Weight, Greg Cronin and Bob Corkum and goalie coach Mike Dunham. Snow made it plain in a sitdown with Newsday later Thursday: The staff will be back, with Capuano leading the way for a sixth year when the 2015-16 season begins in October.
"Our coaches did a great job, whether it was preparing our players or with the communication between coaches and players, which was outstanding," Snow said. "There were some aspects of our game, whether it was with our penalty-kill that struggled early on and became a strength for us by the end, or our power play, which was a strength at times early on and we didn't have one in the playoffs. That's an area of concern. We'll analyze all different areas of our team and try to get better."
Snow made major roster moves after the Islanders missed the playoffs in 2013-14, upgrading in goal with Jaroslav Halak, on defense with the trades for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk and at forward with free-agent deals for Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin.
All five of those veterans are signed through at least 2017-18. Of the homegrown core, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Thomas Hickey will be restricted free agents this offseason and Kyle Okposo's five-year deal will expire after next season. But other than that, the Islanders don't appear to need much in the way of changes, except in how this season finished.
"It's a feeling of disappointment because of our expectations -- we felt we were a team that could compete for a Stanley Cup," Snow said. "To lose in the fashion we did, not just in a Game 7 but not really bringing our 'A' game, it makes it that much more disappointing. We have a young team and you would think because of the age of some of our players, it would be a great learning experience for us in the future."
Much like the players who have trickled in and out of the Coliseum the past few days, slowly packing up their equipment and taking one last look around the old building, Snow took this season's end hard.
The Islanders have gone from a franchise that went five years without a playoff berth to making the postseason two of the last three seasons.
But Snow agreed with all his players in saying he had believed the last season of the Coliseum and the team's terrific regular season meant something special awaited this spring.
"The way it ended, I think everyone from players and coaches, to my staff, there's a feeling that it's heartbreaking," he said. "The reason why it's a little morbid around here is that no one wanted this season to end -- especially with it being the last season at the Coliseum, the talent we had on the team.
"The way our fans embraced our players and the way our team embraced the fans, it was a special feeling. Anyone who came to the Coliseum this year -- I think we had 31 sellouts -- a tremendous amount of support. The way the fans embraced the team and when you'd see after wins, the players went to the center logo and did the 'Yes' chant back to the fans, it was just a great environment to be in."
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