Scott Gordon was hired Tuesday to succeed Ted Nolan as head coach of the New York Islanders.
Terms of his multi-year contract were not disclosed.
"I have seen firsthand the talented young players in this organization," Gordon said. "I look at the direction and the vision for this team and see a bright future."
Gordon, 45, was chosen the American Hockey League's coach of the year last season as he led the Providence Bruins to a 55-18-3-4 record and a league-best 117 points.
But of the eight candidates interviewed by the Islanders, he was the only one lacking NHL experience.
"The bottom line was finding the right coach for our organization at this time," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. "It was a rigorous interview process, extremely thorough."
Gordon, a former pro goaltender and U.S. Olympian, was hired over proven NHL head coaches like Marc Crawford, Gerard Gallant, Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice, Joel Quenneville, Mike Sullivan and John Tortorella.
The decision reportedly came down to Gordon, Hartley and Maurice.
"I do not want any perception the other candidates were not qualified or were not good people because they were," Snow said. "I just found the candidate that is the right coach for our organization — Scott Gordon really stood out."
Gordon is the fifth head coach in the past six seasons for the Islanders, who cited "philosophical differences" in firing Nolan on July 14.
Nolan went 75-68-21 in two seasons with New York, finishing 35-38-9 last season and out of the playoffs.
Gordon posted a 221-141-20-27 mark in five AHL seasons with Providence, following an coaching stint in the East Coast Hockey League.
As a player, he went 2-16 with a 5.60 goals-against average in 23 NHL appearances with the now-defunct Quebec Nordiques between 1989 and 1991.