2006-01-20 / Sports

New York Hockey Report: Major Shakeup On The Island

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

It was thought the only way Mike Milbury would end his reign as general manager would be if he left himself. It happened as the Islanders’ head honcho fell on his sword.

“Yesterday (January 11), Mike came to me and selflessly said that the time had come for a change in the general manager’s seat,” said owner Charles Wang in a press conference. “Mike told me he felt it was the right thing for the Islanders, it was the right thing for Charles Wang and, most importantly, it was the right thing for the fans.

In a shakeup of the whole organization, Milbury will move to a new position as Senior Vice President of all Wang’s sports properties as soon as a new general manager is hired. Steve Stirling was also relieved of his duties as head coach and replace on an interim basis by assistant coach Brad Shaw. Wang complimented Stirling’s work, but felt it was time to move on as the Islanders won only two games since December 21.

“Steve is one of the finest gentlemen you will ever meet in any walk of life,” Wang said. “Steve gave us everything he had - first as coach of our prospects in Bridgeport and later leading the Islanders. He has been very instrumental in the development of so many of our younger players.”

As the book closes, Stirling finishes as only one of three Islander coaches with a winning record at 56-51-13-4 after Al Arbour and Peter Laviolette. Wang will offer the former coach a position in the organization.

So now the Islanders hopes are pinned on Shaw. Before joining Stirling’s staff this season, the former NHL defenseman was the head coach of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL last season with a record of 44-31-4-1. “Brad is a very bright, charismatic and passionate coach, someone I’m counting on to get the most out of our team. I’m very happy that Brad has taken on this responsibility,” Wang said.

Shaw may only be in the driver’s seat for a short period of time, since any new general manager would want to bring his own coach in. Wang expects someone to be hired by the June draft.

“Mike will continue to run hockey operations and work with Coach Shaw because we are not giving up on this season,” Wang said. “We have a very talented team here. I expect us to make a run.”

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