BLOG POST

Lou Better Not Be Done Working

By Danny Radical

Lou Lamoriello has been a busy man since he took the position of King of the New York Islanders from his late May 2018 hiring #Loupon. He reassigned the perpetually ineffective Doug Weight, a man who failed as a power play coach which somehow earned his promotion to head coach, where he failed even more. He reassigned the worst General Manager in the NHL, Girth Snow. I’m not sure where Snow will end up with his reassignment, but I can assure you that he’ll fail at that just as majestically. Like a majestic moose.

temp-post-image

There is one area however that I am surprised Lou hasn’t addressed. It’s just as large a failure as the Girth Snow tenure, and it is in dire need of addressing. It’s a simple question:

How the fuck does Brent Thompson still have a job?

Think about this- Doug Weight had a mildly successful run as a head coach when he took over for Jack Capuano in the 2016-17 season. That run earned him a free look to run an NHL team full time, despite zero experience as head coach outside of being yelled at by them. But Weight did well. He even had a 500 record in the first 3 months of the 2017-18 season. Then what happened happened. As this writer predicted, a team that gives up the most shots in the NHL will invariably give up the most goals in the NHL. And often when you let up the most goals in hockey, you lose more than you win. And holy shit, at the end of the season, that is exactly what happened.

A hack like myself could foresee the long run result of a bad defensive scheme. Maybe it’s my background in economics (which was the major of Bill Belichick, who knows a thing or two about data analysis and winning), but data only informs decisions if you’re bright and open minded, and results happen whether or not you ignore data. So let’s do some analysis, shall we?

temp-post-image

NOT Kool Aid

Here’s the first piece of data: winning seasons. In 12 of 17 seasons, the Sound Tigers have had a winning season. Sounds pretty solid, like a well run system, right? So lets take the next step and look at playoff record.

Here’s where it gets interesting. 12 of 17 winning seasons. I would expect lots of playoff appearances and series wins. And I would be completely wrong.

The Sound Tigers made their AHL debut in 2001-02. Much like the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights, they went all the way to the Calder Cup, where Head Coach Steve Stirling’s team lost to a Chicago Wolves squad 4 games to one. I’m not going to mention that the Tigers roster was full of former NHL players looking for a way back into the league, or young NHL guys having a cup of coffee while waiting for Chris Osgood to move on, but I guess I just did.

The next season the ST made it back all the way to round two, so for all of the people who are fast to count out Las Vegas, slow down.

temp-post-image

4 pieces to get rid of an expiring contract and protect Calvin DeHaan? Christ.

Since that 2002-03 season? The Sound Tigers have not won a single round of playoffs. For some seasons that makes sense, like the 5 years that the team was under 500. But there were 3 seasons of over 600 hockey where they lost in the first round twice, and for one year where they missed the playoffs with a 605 winning percentage. That deserves a lookie lou.

The 2016-17 Sound Tigers missed the playoffs by a game. Interestingly, the 2016-17 New York Islanders missed the playoffs by one game. I want to compare this result to say, the results of another AHL team that same year. The coach of that Sound Tigers team, Brent Thompson, was coming off an assistant coaching run in the NHL and it is fair to say should have learned from being around elite coaches every time the Islanders played against an opponent, and around run of the mill coaches for every strategy session. All three of them.

The 2016-17 Toronto Marlies lost in round two of the playoffs that year with a record 3 points worse than the Sound Tigers. Why did I randomly pick the Marlies and not a team within the division, like the former Islanders coach Scott Gordon’s team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms?

temp-post-image

2 Shitty Coaches, No Cups

We chose the Marlies because there are some parallels to investigate. The Toronto organization rebooted their front office in 2015-16, which included looking at the entire organization from top to bottom. Who was the top? Lou Lamoriello. In 2015 Lou brought in Sheldon Keefe to coach the Marlies. His first year Toronto went to the third round of the playoffs. The second year? Round two. So far, he’s kept pace with the greatest Sound Tiger coach of all, Steve Stirling. #KeepPace

temp-post-image

Snow hired his assistant as a head coach. Recycled a Milbury pick. Because Snow was a great GM.

Lets compare this to the historical Golden Age of the Sound Tigers. By year three of their existence Bridgeport bowed out in round one of the playoffs, under new coach and Islander organization favorite Greg Cronin. By Cronin’s second year (and the Sound Tiger’s fourth) playoffs were not happening. Cronin promptly left the Sound Tigers after that season to lead Northeastern University to a 3-24 record and one winning season in six years as a college coach. AFTER COACHING IN THE NHL AND AHL. What a fucking loser.

temp-post-image

"And you might say, I sucked in the AHL. And you might say I sucked in college. Why am I here?"

But I’m not here to bury the horrible coach that Greg Cronin is, nor to wonder who he has naked pictures of to stay employed. No, I’m here to talk about the current Sound Tigers coach, Brent Thompson.

In the 2015-16 season, as Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe was breaking into a new league and advancing to a conference semifinal, Thompson was in his second stint as AHL head coach, losing in round one to…wait for it….wait….the Toronto Marlies and their rookie coach.

In 2016-17, the Sound Tigers missed the playoffs by as many points as the Doug Weight Islanders did. And the Marlies improved 13 points. More impressively, the Marlies parent club improved 26 points that same season.

So what about 2017-18? Just like the parent team, the Sound Tigers missed the playoffs. Again. For the 6th time in the last 8 years. And in case I forgot to mention (I haven't), the Sound tigers haven’t won a playoff round since 2003. But the Marlies? Presently leading 3 games to 2 in the Calder Cup finals. And during that run? They demolished Scott Gordon’s AHL team 4 games to zero in the playoffs. Who the hell would have thought such a pathetic head coach would be fine NHL material? And don't say Boston- they didn't promote him despite having the chance.

temp-post-image

Nothing has changed. Including strategy. And where he stands on the bench.

For Toronto Lou brought in a coach who was a winner in the lower levels of hockey, who proved to step up and continue to be a winner. And did Garth Snow do the same for the Sound Tigers? Not so much.

Which gets to the other thing the AHL is meant for: talent development. Once teenagers stop being teenagers, they “graduate” to the AHL. And the AHL is meant to be a developmental league for the NHL. Developmental. Want to take a look at what’s developed under Brent Thomspon?

Here are guys Brent Thompson helped gain NHL pedigrees: Matt Donovan. Kael Mouillierat. David Ulstrom. Ty Wishart. Anders Nilsson. Griffin Reinhart. Johan Sundstrom. Scott Mayfield. Kevin Poulin. The Ice Boys.

temp-post-image

They look so sad and victimized!! Thank god Thompson helped bring male equality.

OK, so I know that when we look at the root cause for all of that suckitude, and it is suckitude, it largely falls upon Garth Snow as being the General Manager that did no homework when drafting and signing players, because until recently Girth Snow was the worst GM in the NHL.

But sometimes, sometimes, you can polish a turd.

For Islander fans, is Ryan Pulock that one turd? Because that’s the length of impact players coming off of Thompson’s resume. Not Barzal, not Bueavuiller, not Ho Sang, not Dal Colle, not Neiderreiter, one guy. One guy that was only in the AHL to rehab an injury. So maybe not.

Folks, despite thinking on this, there’s no other way to say it: Brent Thompson is a ZILCH.

The only defense for Thompson is maybe the guy sending him players is sending him garbage. Seeing that Garth Snow repopulated Bridgeport with castoffs from Toronto in the Michael Grabner trade, you’d have to wonder how Grabner acquired 5 prospects, and consider the quality of those prospects. And then realize that those castaways took away jobs from the guys Snow drafted. The star of that trade? Christopher Gibson. This guy.

So what does this all mean in the long run? Lets apply some basic economic concepts to the Sound Tigers. Here’s a favorite of Belichik- cost benefit analysis. What is the cost of keeping Thompson as coach versus what he positively contributes to the organization? Has there been any benefit so far? Yes, Tanner Fritz was a first liner for a period, so we have to consider that an organizational success compared to all of the more of the same that Thompson has touched.

Howabout supply and demand? Does the supply of coaches exceed the amount of guys that hold the job? The answer is ABSOLUTELY. There is no way, based on data, you can make a convincing argument that Brent Thompson is the most qualified candidate to hold an AHL head coaching job. The guy came back from a stint in the NHL and had nothing to show for it. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it happened.

temp-post-image

If the Q stood for Quality, Thompson wouldn't belong, either.

Lastly, opportunity cost. What do we lose by keeping Thompson versus an alternative? Well, the Islanders lose out on candidates more ready to step in to the NHL. Yes, I know that Thompson has already coached in the NHL, but it was for the Islanders, an organization famously known for being the training wheels for the rest of the NHL. So for every game Thompson is coaching, there is a player going undeveloped, there’s an NHL head coach with a little less fear about being replaced, and there’s an organization saving a few thousand dollars on a guy who they know won’t ask for a raise just because he’s happy to be there.

None of those things improve an organization.

temp-post-image

A centered scoreboard? How un-Islander-like!

In looking at all of these factors, in weighing the costs and benefits that Bridgeport has provided to the New York Islanders, and in conducting this thorough analysis, everything that’s been researched here points to one unifying, singular conclusion:

HOW THE FUCK DOES BRENT JOHNSON STILL HAVE A JOB?

temp-post-imagetemp-post-image

How long can a man rock a goatee? Dude...