clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Last place Islanders dump ex-Grizz coach

Goring fired after disappointing stint in the Big Apple

NEW YORK — Holding the worst record in the NHL and coming off a 6-0 loss to a last-place team, the New York Islanders on Sunday fired coach Butch Goring.

He was replaced by assistant and former teammate Lorne Henning, who coached the Islanders during the lockout season of 1994-95.

"Butch is a good friend, good person and a good coach," Henning said Sunday. "He's an Islander. It's a sad time for everyone, but you have to move forward. I've been in the business 30 years. I have Islander blood. We have to right the ship and get things going."

Goring was dismissed by general manager Mike Milbury in a morning meeting at Nassau Coliseum. Soon after, the players were addressed in the locker room.

Henning said he spoke briefly to Goring and said he was "shook up."

The Islanders (17-40-5-3) are last in the Atlantic Division and have a league-low 42 points. That's one fewer than that of Tampa Bay, which routed the Islanders 6-0 Saturday night.

Henning will be behind the bench Monday night at the New York Rangers. His first home game will be Tuesday night against Washington.

"Hopefully, we can win some games, get some passion and energy going again and have some fun in these last 17 games," said Henning, who will work with holdover assistants Greg Cronin and Steve Stirling.

"It's real tough. I'm sure the players realize that, looking down the road, we need to get a foundation and start going in the right direction."

Henning takes over a team that is rebuilding and has lost four straight. The Islanders, once a symbol of excellence in the NHL, have not made the playoffs since the 1993-94 season.

Goring was 41-89-14-4 with New York since taking the job at the start of the 1999-00 season, when he inherited the youngest team in the league.

"It's sad," said Mariusz Czerkawski, the team's top scorer with 23 goals and 47 points. "You never want to see this happen."

With 11 new faces in the lineup this season, and despite a 6-4-2 start, the mix of players didn't mesh and resulted in eight- and seven-game losing streaks. The troubles were compounded by injuries to key players.

"It's really disappointing," said Brad Isbister, New York's fifth-leading scorer who has been limited to 49 games. "Butch is a great guy and a great coach. I feel that the team is to blame as a whole. The coach is the one who usually pays the price in instances like this."

Goring and Henning were teammates for parts of two seasons from 1980-81, when the Islanders won the first two of four straight Stanley Cups. Goring was on the club for the last two championships as well, while Henning was an assistant to Al Arbour.

Henning served as an Islanders assistant coach from 1981-84, and 1989-94. He was the head coach in the lockout season before becoming an assistant with Chicago for

three seasons. He returned as an Islanders assistant in 1998.

Milbury has fired five coaches, including himself twice, during the 5 1/2 years he has been the Islanders general manager. The other two were Rick Bowness and Bill Stewart. Milbury's job is safe for next year, according to owner Charles Wang.

The one-sided loss Saturday night underlined the team's problems. With the defeat, New York replaced Tampa Bay as the club with the worst record in the league.

"This is the coaching profession," Henning said. "The last couple of games have been pretty tough. It's part of the business. Butchie knows that. He's disappointed. We all are.

"This is his dream. I know he's said that a couple of times. He's also a realist. Bottom line, if you don't win ... we all go through it."

The Islanders stayed in their locker room after Saturday's loss, holding a 25-minute players-only meeting. Goring, who has also coached the Boston Bruins, did not criticize his players, who showed little passion against the Lightning.

"No, we didn't quit," Goring said after the game. "This was one of those nights where no matter where they shot the puck, it was going in our net."

Asked if this was the low point of the season, Goring said, "Yes, it probably is."