On Friday, the Islanders announced the removal of Bridgeport Head Coach Scott Pellerin and replacing him with Assistant Coach Brent Thompson. Pellerin has led the Sound Tigers since the elevation of Thompson to the bench in Nassau. Thompson's return to Bridgeport signals a few things potentially. One: he becomes the presumptive guy to take over in the event that Jack Capuano is fired in season (on an interim basis at least), and that the Islanders will look to re-establish their system at Bridgeport. Admittedly, Pellerin hasn't been given much to work with in the last two seasons, but the team is looking to implement a system at Bridgeport much like the Boston Bruins have with their AHL team: Providence. Claude Julien knows that that if he loses a player, a call up from Bruce Cassidy's Providence is so in-tune with the Bruins system that they can transition almost seamlessly. Examples like Torey Krug and David Warsofsky and Kevan Miller all were able to jump right into Boston's D corps and handle the load and replace guys like Adam McQuid and Dennis Seidenberg. The Islanders need that sort of system again and Thompson has been a guy who's been able to guide guys to the Islanders and have them ready to go in their system without the prolonged adjustment period that Matt Donovan saw (and to an extent Cal De Haan).
This isn't indicative that Scott Pellerin is a bad coach, he's had depleted rosters in his first run at the AHL, prior to joining Bridgeport, he was an assistant with the Manchester Monarchs. His first season resulted in a .500 record of 32-32-12, this year was less successful: 28-42-6. The regression is due to a few factors: injuries and call ups ravaged the Sound Tigers roster: Calvin de Haan, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee all called up to the NHL (likely permanently, either with the Islanders or not), Bridgeport lost most of it's name recognition; Anders Nilsson, expected to be the full season starter: was not and was also recalled to the Islanders on multiple occasions, Bridgeport used 4 goalies this season; overall lack of depth played a factor, there came a point where the teams highest scorer was Alan Quine while the team's top scorers from the first half of the season were playing in New York (Strome, Lee and Mike Halmo), also guys like Johan Sundstrom, John Persson and Kirill Kabanov failed to produce secondary scoring (Persson was injured and Kabanov was loaned to the SHL's Modo, where he picked up 8 points in 12 games). Pellerin has not had a lot to work with in the last two seasons, so while frustrating for fans over the last two season, it must have been that much more magnified for Pellerin and his players.
With Thompson moving back to Bridgeport, the Islanders are left with a hole at the Assistant coaching spot on the big league roster. With the removal of 5 NHL head coaches(Oates, Mueller, Trotz, Tortorella and Horachek) so far (McLelland sits very much on the hot seat as it's sheer chaos in San Jose right now), and chunks of their staffs, the market is flush with guys who might be useful in this spot. None of the guys previously mentioned in the parenthesis, besides maybe McLelland, jump out as guys who want to be assistant coaches again. Horachk was an assistant for years, before getting the chance to run the Panthers and save them from further embarrassment this year; Tortorella hasn't been an assistant in forever; Oates is a one trick Pony better suited to be an assistant, but the Isles have Doug Weight running the power play and so there's no room, unless something changes; Trotz has spent close to two decades as a Head Coach, he's not about to Martin/Robinson it right now; finally Kirk Mueller can coach literally anywhere else on the planet, not New York, or the Islanders to be more succinct. Of the Above lot, the Nino Neiderreiter before Nino Neiderreiter has a special place in hell reserved for him by Islanders fans. Anyway, there is a number of options to look for for a Defensive Assistant, Sean Morrell (@xchfs on Twitter) mentioned Dave Lewis, who would be a great add in that role. Lewis brings decades of coaching experience and can help round out Capuano by giving him know ledge of the other Head coaches he's been under as well as impart further knowledge from his time as a head coach, even if it didn't end very well. There's also apparently been musings of bringing John Tortorella in as an "Associate Coach" to build a defensive system on LI, the idea intrigues...mostly in that the Islanders can play good cop/bad cop and send Jack out when the team is playing well and Torts when the team is not. Not 100% on board with the idea of Torts, but an associate would be fine in my eyes. The more I think about it, Lewis makes a lot of sense and can help the D immeasurably, and with Jacques Martin and Larry Robinson not options, unless San Jose fires Robinson, then he's the best guy available. I think Brad Shaw would be great in a "fix the D" role, but given St Louis' repeated failures in the playoffs under Hitchcock, I can't see Cap being a guy who can will his team forward...even in the Metroterrible.
With the Islanders sticking by Capuano and making the heir apparent be Brent Thompson, it'll be interesting to see who they can hire to round out the coaching staff, maybe they revamp it a lot and send Doug Weight upstairs (who I think would be better working side by side with Garth more than his dual role) and hire an Associate and Assistant or pair of assistants, either with or without an Associate...there's a lot of ways the Isles can go about this, but make no mistake, they're still working within the system they have that they feel Capuano and Thompson execute best.