- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New York Islanders have decided to retain Jack Capuano as coach, removing the interim tag from his title.
Per team policy, the terms of Capuano's contract were not disclosed.
Capuano, who previously served as coach of the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, took over Nov. 15 for Scott Gordon, who was fired with the team in the midst of a 10-game losing streak.
Capuano guided the Islanders to a 26-29-10 finish as interim coach, and were 25-21-8 in the final 54 games of the season. The Islanders were 30-39-13, finishing last in the Atlantic Division for the fourth straight season.
"Jack took over a team that really lacked in confidence," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "I thought he did a tremendous job communicating with the players. I thought Jack had a really good familiarity with most of the players in the locker room since he coached a lot of them in the minors. He took over a team that was really down in the dumps emotionally and mentally and did an excellent job getting the most out of our players."
Snow called Capuano, who went 133-100-8-4 in four seasons at Bridgeport, "the right coach for this team."
"I think when you come in, you don't want to change a lot right away," Capuano said. "It was an easy transition. I felt like I could get the maximum potential out of these guys. Not once did I really think of the future. I just wanted to win hockey games and get this team to the playoffs. I'm not happy we failed to do that.
"The guys deserve the credit for turning things around. I feel very strongly moving forward. We got a young group of guys in here. If we continue to make strides, there's no way we won't be a playoff team."
The Islanders, who lost more than 600 man-games to injuries and suspension, finished 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference. However, with a young nucleus that features John Tavares (29 goals, 38 assists), Michael Grabner (34 goals, 52 points) and Matt Moulson (31 goals, 53 points), Capuano believes the team can compete for a playoff spot next season.
"In the AHL, it's more about developing your players," Capuano said. "Here, I know for sure you don't lose track of the teaching side of it. But the bottom line is to win hockey games, and that's what we plan on doing."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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