The hiring of Luke Richardson on Thursday was Doug Weight’s first move towards putting his stamp on the Islanders coaching staff. And it appears more changes could be coming behind the bench.
The staff will likely be a significantly different from the one that has been there for the past three seasons. Already gone is Bob Corkum, who has been an assistant since 2014 and was part of the Islanders player development staff since 2013.
It’s unclear whether other mainstay Greg Cronin’s job is secure, according to Newsday.
Weight all but guaranteed a change to his staff during his conference call the day he was officially given the position of head coach in April. Now he’s starting to bring in people he thinks can help make the Islanders better and address some of the issues that plagued the team.
Richardson is an experienced coach who comes highly regarded from his time with the Ottawa Senators organization. He also played a role in helping developing some of the Senators top players during his stint as head coach in Binghamton.
Also potentially joining Weight behind the bench is another former oiler teammate, Kelly Buchberger, and former NHLer Scott Gomez.
Buchberger is another experienced coach that fits the criteria that Weight outlined in April.
“I want good people who want to work and have a passion to win, and have respect and knowledge,” Weight said. “Most importantly it’s got to fit into our team and what we need as a staff to be cohesive and to be trust worthy and respected.”
At first glance Gomez seems like a peculiar choice considering the lack of coaching experience, and especially with Newsday reporting he could be charged with fixing the power play. However, Gomez’s 1,079 NHL games and two Stanley Cup rings command a certain level respect.
Gomez also was a big help to the Hershey Bears power play during his short stint in the AHL in 2016. At the time, Bears coach Troy Mann said Gomez was “very positive for the young players” and credited him with the team’s improved power play during that season.
“He came in here and I thought he was fabulous on and off the ice,” Mann said at the time. “He certainly helped our power play and our power play is now up to 12th in the league. I think it was 26th when he came here and even since he’s left the power play has continued to produce.”
Granted, helping to improve an AHL team’s power play is much different than doing it at the NHL level, it could be part of the reason Weight is drawn to to former New Jersey Devil and New York Ranger.
The power play was one of the Islanders biggest issues during the 2016-17 campaign and one Weight hoped to address with some of his coaching hires during this offseason. “I think we need to improve in certain areas, so that’s a focus,” Weight said.
As of now Richardson remains the only official addition to the staff, but it’s clear Weight is putting his stamp on the staff.