SUNRISE, Fla. — Jack Capuano had to correct himself a few times during a chat with reporters before Monday night’s game, sometimes saying “we” when describing his Panthers’ opponent. Especially when he discussed his finest moment in seven seasons as Islanders coach, their first-round series victory over the Panthers in 2016.
Capuano was reminded that the Panthers still believe they were robbed late in Game 6, when Vincent Trocheck was taken down while trying to shoot for an empty net. John Tavares tied it soon after and won it in double overtime.
“That’s the first thing Vinny said to me, but I told him we’d have beaten him in Game 7 anyway, so it doesn’t matter,” said Capuano, Florida’s associate coach for rookie head man Bob Boughner. “It was a great series, a hard-fought series, could’ve went either way, and fortunately 91 did what he usually does and came up with a big goal.”
Capuano was fired by the Islanders in January and, after strongly considering a similar role with the Sabres, chose to come to the Panthers, a team that has gotten much younger since the Islanders dispatched them two seasons ago.
“I follow them, and obviously I’m rooting for them,” Capuano said. “I still have a lot of friends on that team, the coaching staff. If there’s a team in the Metro I want to win, it’s them. Tonight’s another game, but afterwards, I want them to keep climbing the ladder.”
Capuano had the longest tenure of any Islanders coach since Al Arbour, so he is well acquainted with nearly the entire roster and takes some pride in seeing what’s developed since he was let go.
“It’s about the development of the players, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Cal de Haan, Casey Cizikas. There’s a lot of guys we had, just to watch them grow and the success we had,” he said. “It’s a process for us. It’s a young team just like we were on the Island. That’s why I thought this would be a good situation for me.”