Where are they Now? Ted Nolan
Today we profile the head coach who took Islanders to the playoffs prior to last season’s team. The last playoff berth was in the 2006-2007 season with Ted Nolan as head coach.
Ted Nolan was named head coach of the Islanders in June 2006 by owner Charles Wang and a few weeks later began the Garth Snow era as general manager so this was a new stamp on the organization when Nolan became coach. Prior to the Islanders, Ted Nolan was head coach of the Buffalo Sabres for two years while also spending time coaching in junior hockey. (Photo Credit- Slapshot)
Nolan’s first season with the Islanders was highlighted by a playoff berth and their first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs after the work stoppage in 2004-2005. On the ice, this was the year Rick DiPietro signed the 15 year contract which at the time was the longest in professional sports. Ted Nolan’s team featured a veteran group that included the trade deadline acquisition of Ryan Smith for the playoff push. The Islanders finished 8th in the East and clinched the playoff berth on the final day of the season with Wade Dubielewicz in net for the injured Rick DiPietro. They clinched with a shootout win over the Devils in which Dubielewicz poke-checked Sergei Brylin to secure the victory. The team expressed pride that they qualified because many NHL preview predictions had the Isles slated to finish at or near the bottom of the standings. They lost their first round matchup with the Buffalo Sabres the NHL's best team during the regular season, in five games.
Ted Nolan’s 2nd season behind the Islanders bench wasn’t as successful as the first with key players Tom Poti, Ryan Smith, and Jason Blake all leaving as free agents while Alexi Yashin’s contract was bought out by the team. In return Garth Snow added veteran players that include Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Bill Guerin who was named the Islanders captain. Nolan’s team struggled on the ice finishing last in the division and missing the playoffs. At the conclusion of the season Nolan was let go by Garth Snow as the rebuilding era of the franchise began which led to the foundation of players seen today.
A highlight of this season and Ted Nolan’s tenure on Long Island occurred on November 3, 2007, when Al Arbour returned to coach his 1500th game for the Islanders at the behest Nolan, who wanted Arbour's regular season games coached total to reach 1500, a round number. The Islanders came from behind to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3–2, which extended Arbour's National Hockey League record for most games coached with one team and extended his NHL record 740 regular season wins with one team. Afterwards, in a post-game ceremony, the Islanders raised a new banner to honor Arbour's 1500th game coached for the Islanders. (Photo Credit- www.cbssports.com)
Life after the Islanders for Ted Nolan was still in the NHL but not as a coach, instead as a dad. His son Jordan is currently a member of the Los Angeles Kings and was part of the 2012 Stanley Cup championship team that defeated the Devils. He has still involved with the game of hockey since leaving the Islanders having spent two years as Vice President of Hockey Operations with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and, since 2011, has been head coach of the Latvian men's national team, they qualified for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia earlier this year.
When Ted Nolan was hired as coach in 2006 I wasn’t sure how it would go since Charles Wang hired a coach and general manager without giving the GM a chance to pick his own coach. Then everything came down with the firing of Neil Smith and Garth Snow hiring. The 2006-2007 season turned out to be a fun one to watch and it bought some excitement back to the fan base after the work stoppage and missed playoff appearances.
The summer after the 2007 playoffs was tough seeing guys like Jason Blake leave and seeing the team possibly take a step back. Ted Nolan did a great job keeping the roster he was given in that 2nd year competitive but it wasn’t enough to get back in the playoffs as he was let go. Years later it all turned out to work out well but it was still a short regime to look back on. The night Nolan invited Al Arbour back to coach was another memorable moment and something that the fans will look back at and that wouldn’t have been done without Nolan.