Isles Consider Kevin Colley For Coaching Assignment
With the frenzy of free agency nearing an end, and players in place to compete for a roster spot on next years Islanders team, it is time to look for a new head coach for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
One former team captain of the Sound Tigers, who retired as a New York Islander, being considered for the position is Kevin Colley.
Colley is attending the same school that Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, and assistant coach Brett Thompson, graduated from. It is the only school available to future NHL coaches ... ‘The School of Hard Knocks’.
Kevin was born in New Haven, CT in January 1979, near the end of his father Tom's hockey career with the New Haven Nighthawks.
Earlier in the 70’s, when Bobby Nystrom and Billy Smith were developing young players in the AHL, the Nighthawks were the affiliate of the New York Islanders. When Tom played with the Nighthawks, they were the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.
After retiring from hockey as a player in 1981, Tom returned with his young family to his native Ontario and became a coach in the Collingwood Minor Hockey program. It was under his fathers' tutelage that Kevin played his midget and peewee hockey.
Kevin was selected by the Oshawa Generals in the 1996 CHL draft, and after three very successful seasons, earned a try-out with the Hartford Wolfpack. His education at 'The School of Hard Knocks' had begun.
From 1999 to 2003 he made eleven different stops with teams in the ECHL and the AHL before landing in Bridgeport, where his grit and enthusiastic play made him an instant fan favorite.
In 2003-04, his first season with Bridgeport, Kevin Colley had 12 goals, 19 assists and racked up 122 penalty minutes in 78 games. In his sophomore season, his numbers soared to 11 goals, 13 assists and an AHL league leading 212 penalty minutes in just 69 games.
His feisty play earned Kevin his call up to the Islanders after delivering 5 goals,5 assists and 60 PIMs in the first 21 games of his third, and final year with the Sound Tigers. It was this enthusiastic style of play and never give up attitude that would end his promising hockey playing career in a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 31, 2006.
While attempting to throw a check on Caps forward Jamie Heward, Colley crashed awkwardly into the boards and fractured his neck. Two surgeries later, the New Haven CT. native was quoted by CBC Sports as saying he feels “blessed that I am able to walk.”
On February 24, 2006, one month after turning 27, he made a surprise visit to the Islanders Syosset practice facility to announce his retirement.
Kevin received the Bob Nystrom Award that season, given annually to the Islander, “who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication”, as voted on by the fans.
The Islanders back up goalie on the night that Colley was injured was Garth Snow who, along with the rest of the Islanders, could only watch as their young teammate was walked off the ice.
Some few days later, while Kevin was recovering from the first of his surgical procedures, Snow played his only game as a Sound Tiger and stopped 37 of the 38 shots that the Providence Bruins fired at him in a 4-1 Tigers win.
Snow retired that same season and began his career as the Islanders General Manager. In one of his early moves as GM, he appointed Kevin Colley as the assistant coach of the Isles ECHL affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies.
Colley (now with 2 pins, 2 plates and 8 screws in his neck) returned to the Bridgeport arena for the ceremonial puck drop to start the Sound Tigers 2007-08 season. He stayed after the game signing autographs and accepting the good wishes extended him before starting his new career.
In a November 21, 2007 NY Post blog, Anthony Affunti noted, "If his coaching style is anything like his game in his abbreviated career, we'll be seeing Colley behind the NHL bench in the not too distant future."
After one year as an assistant, he was named the head coach of the Utah Grizzlies, the youngest coach in the ECHL.
Coach Colley has led Utah to the Kelly Cup playoffs in each of his four years as head coach, and is second only to Butch Goring in career wins as a coach with the Grizzlies.
After spending the first few months of his life and his last few years as a player in Connecticut, it would be nice to see him return to continue his education. It does not appear that it will be long before he graduates.