The Atlantic Division: A Place to Learn About Losing

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders works the bench during his first NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Coliseum on November 17, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Atlantic is turning into some kind of advanced failure seminar.

The Islanders and Devils are rocking the cellar, each team still not in double-digit wins.

Each team has to be looking at the other, trying to figure out just what the other one is doing wrong.

For example, let’s look at how Devils’ GM Lou Lamoriello hasn’t yet fired coach John MacLean. I wonder if he’s been slow to pull the trigger on that given how the Islanders’ coaching change did absolutely nothing to improve the team.

All firing Islanders’ coach Scott Gordon did was restore his dignity. He’s the only one who benefited from the move.

Lamoriello might be concerned that the coaching change really won’t help things. And then he’s out of change bullets, since a huge part of his roster has no-trade clauses.

The Devils seem to see MacLean’s demise coming and seem upset about it.

But it raises the question of how much of a shakeup it is if everyone sees the move coming. It seems like the element of surprise is an important part of shaking things up. Otherwise, it’s really just human resources.

On the other hand, Lamoriello has to do something. The Islanders have just kind of wallowed in their awfulness and it seems to be having a negative effect on the team. After Sunday’s loss to the Flyers, one anonymous Islander questioned the vibe in the room, telling Katie Strang, “It’s like a country club in here.”

The player was referring to the fact that either no one in the room was upset after a loss or that he was in a room full of white men of declining athletic skills holding big sticks.

The last thing a GM wants is a team that’s comfortable with losing. The Islanders seem to be transitioning into that mindset, which might be why Lamoriello is considering a coaching change. He might want to make sure everyone on his roster understands that losing is unacceptable and has its consequences.

Watching the Islanders, Lamoriello is probably getting an idea of what can happen if a team is allowed to lose without consequences.

The Atlantic is a great place for studying losing. Between the Islanders and the Devils, the Devils might have the best chance of learning from the failures of the other and turning things around, if only because the Islanders have so much more experience with failure.

In fact, the Islanders might consider teaching a graduate class on the topic. And perhaps for that class, an F would actually be a passing grade.