Following a pair of completely lifeless losses, the Islanders decided that it was time for a change on the New York hockey scene. Unfortunately, that meant Butch Goring was no longer to be head coach of the Islanders.
Butch Goring once rode into Long Island like a knight in shining armor, giving the team just what it needed to make a charge for Lord Stanley's Cup and Drive for Five. He gave them that 2nd line center, gritty and strong, and he gave them the winning attitude that lifted them to the top of the mountain four times in a row.
Sadly, Goring was unable to achieve as a coach that which he did as a player.
Goring took over as head coach of the Islanders in April 1999. He came aboard just as the Great Salary Purge was being plotted by team owners, Steven Gluckstern and the Milstein Brothers. Goring knew the situation, but took the job anyway.
The following season, Goring and a motley crew of undermanned, untapped, underaged talent surprised many critics and a few other teams by playing tough as nails and making every opponent work hard for each victory. The Isles missed the playoffs, but showed a lot of courage and hustle for the league's youngest and lowest paid bunch.
Oddly enough, it may have been Goring's first year success that lead to his second year demise. With an increased payroll of $10 million, expectations were high for the new season. But he was unable to get the same toughness and attitude out of his players this year. And after a home massacre at the hands of the last place Lightning, the Shoe finally dropped.
Butch Goring gave the Islanders hope during the lowest point in franchise history, as the budget was slashed to league minimum. He provided heart, pride and class. He gave the fans hope for better days ahead. He fought bravely, and for that he deserves our gratitude.
He also deserved a better fate. But when a team stops showing up, when they tune out their coach, when they lose, and lose badly, and seem not to care, the coach will inevitably be in front of the firing squad.
Butch Goring, thanks for your inspired, optomistic attitude. Thank you for bleeding Islander Blue during your playing days and through your coaching days as well. Thank you for being an Islander through thick and thin. You'll always have a place in our hearts. Thanks Coach.
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