Jack's Gettin' Jack: Will Capuano Earn Coach of the Year Honors?

The Jack Adams award is given out each year to the coach who is judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success in the National Hockey League. If you were to ask Isles fans about Jack Capuano’s name being thrown into the list of candidates for the award a year ago, you would have received plenty of laughs.

Despite being the next winningest coach for the Islanders after Al Arbour, Capuano had drawn the ire of the Islanders faithful for his inability to provide Nassau Coliseum ice with a winning hockey team after making the playoffs the year before.

But considering the success of the Islanders this season, it would be inconsiderate of the league to not take a look at Capuano when deciding who should be nominated for the award.

The Islanders are currently sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division after playing more than three quarters of the season. Their 40-20-2 record is indicative of the success that they have had this year, and despite some key injuries, they have maintained themselves as a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Garth Snow’s key acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy (who was signed to a seven-year contract extension yesterday) are major key factors as to why this team has turned a corner. The added depth of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin have helped as well as the improved goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson.

But this team has also seen increased production from youngsters Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. All three have established themselves as full-time NHL players this year and still show a lot of promise for the future.

Josh Bailey has been playing much better on a top line with Lee and John Tavares, which is not a likely trio that many expected to be together at this point of the season.

Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck (or Colin McDonald too), have arguably been the best fourth line in the NHL.

Many of these aforementioned players have been part of this club for quite some time. After talking to several players in that locker room, it is evident that this team buys in to their coach’s policies. Not only do they buy into it, but they believe in the systems that are in place and know what they need to do in order to be successful.

Turning a team around and getting the most out of it's players after finishing towards the bottom of the standings for several years straight is no small feat.

This is not a blog declaring that Jack Capuano is the coach of the year, nor is it stating that his work has been flawless. But some credit should be given when it is due.

-Rob McGowan

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