Islanders fire head coach Scott Gordon
Jon Sim says it's time for the New York Islanders to get back to the basics and remain hopeful of a turnaround with 65 games left in the NHL regular season.
The 33-year-old left-winger was talking in the hours following the firing of head coach Scott Gordon, who was let go Monday following the team's 10th consecutive loss, a 5-1 setback two days earlier that dropped New York to the bottom of the 30-team league with a 4-10-3 record.
"We're just six points out [of a playoff spot] … it's definitely not an impossible thing to do," Sim said in a phone interview from Long Island, N.Y.
"I'm sure the knobs of the sticks are pretty tight now, but we have to get to the net and do the little things. It looked like we were making strides and then you lose 5-1 and realize you have a lot of work to do."
Gordon, who compiled a record of 64-94-23 in two-plus seasons on the Island, will remain with the franchise as an adviser to general manager Garth Snow, while assistant coaches Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen are expected to remain on staff.
"When we're in a situation we're in right now — we've lost 10 games in a row — sometimes you have to go with your gut and make decisions that are tough," Snow said during a conference call.
"We believe we need a change in direction and, with the majority of the regular season still ahead of us, our goal remains to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"Scott has made tremendous strides with our team the past three seasons and I look forward to continuing our relationship in an advisory capacity."
Stepping behind the Islanders bench on an interim basis is Jack Capuano, head coach of the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Bridgeport, Ct.
Sim, a 10-year NHL veteran, played four games for the Sound Tigers earlier this season and quickly realized the passion Capuano has for the team and players.
"He brings an energy to the rink, wears his heart on his sleeve and with a young [Islanders] team that could be good," Sim said. "It's a good feeling when you're excited to come to the rink and you're winning hockey games."
Capuano put up a 133-100-8-14 record while in Bridgeport but Snow didn't specify how long Capuano would be coaching the team, or whether or not he would finish out the rest of the season.
"We're just concerned about Wednesday," Snow said, referring to the club's next game against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
New York began the season 4-2-1 and surprised many that a team with so many young players and injuries to key players like forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and defenceman Mark Streit could rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.
"We were off to a great start, and happy," said Sim. "Scott was trying everything and positive the whole time [but] we weren't responding to what was going on.
"Hopefully, he learns [from the experience] and hopefully we as players and a team learn and start things off the right way on Wednesday. I think there is a right mix of players here."
with files from The Associated Press