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Firing emblematic of Islanders' mess


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001

The fallout from the firing of Islanders coach Butch Goring gets nastier and nastier, causing even more embarrassment for what was once one of the NHL's flagship franchises.

Goring ripped into his players (for not playing hard) and management (for undermining his position in the locker room) a few days after a horrible 6-0 loss to the Lightning cost him his job.

"I think everybody has pretty much admitted this was an organizational disaster," said Goring, a member of the Islanders' four Stanley Cup teams.

"Nobody got it right this year."

Not the players, who admitted going through the motions. Or general manager Mike Milbury, who in December had a heated exchange with Goring in front of his troops.

Then there was owner Charles Wang, who during a meeting with fans mentioned coaching candidate Ted Nolan. That turned Goring into a lame duck and the players apparently tuned out.

"If I'm the problem, I'm not the only problem," Goring said. "I think they've got some other issues to look at."

Goring also spoke of a midseason meeting with the players. Their complaints: Too many meetings, too many video sessions, the wives' room at Nassau Coliseum didn't have good food.

"I allowed them to speak their minds," Goring said. "They blamed everybody but themselves. I knew then that they didn't get it."

WHO'S NEXT?: Nolan, former Devils coach Robbie Ftorek and former Bruins coach Pat Burns are at the top of Milbury's list.

Nolan was the NHL's coach of the year with the Sabres for 1996-97, but left the team after Buffalo offered him a one-year contract renewal.

Milbury asked him to join him as the Islanders associate coach in 1997. Nolan wanted the head-coaching job and refused. Four coaches later, including a second try by Milbury, the Isles are back to Nolan.

"There isn't a day that really goes by that I don't think about coaching again," Nolan said.

"As far as the location and all that ... it could be in Sing Sing (prison) as far as I'm concerned."

DEADLINE LOOMS: The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Tuesday. Here are some of the latest rumors:

Coyotes wing Keith Tkachuk to ... the Maple Leafs for Nik Antropov, Danny Markov and Sergei Berezin; the Penguins for Darius Kasparaitis and Jan Hrdina; the Devils for Scott Gomez, Colin White and Sergei Brylin; the Blues for Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus, Mike Van Ryn and a draft pick. If that is not enough, the Blues might substitute Pavol Demitra for Handzus and Nagy.

The Red Wings also are reportedly involved, but no offer has been leaked.

Pittsburgh center Jaromir Jagr (seriously) to the Islanders for power forward Brad Isbister, center Dave Scatchard, 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara and New York's first pick (which could be first overall) in the June draft.

A three-way deal that would land Eric Lindros in Toronto, Tkachuk in Philadelphia, and Antropov and defenseman Tomas Kaberle in Phoenix.

Buffalo's unsigned, restricted free agent Micheal Peca to Calgary for forward Jarome Iginla.

Peca to the Rangers for forward Jan Hlavac.

ODDS AND ENDS: Carolina defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh seemed to be on the way out, but with nine points in his past six games, including his second career hat trick, he is looking more like a keeper. ... John LeClair can't catch a break. The Flyers forward was supposed to practice last week for the first time in three months. But a rash linked to the antibiotics he is taking for a virus in his backbone kept him off the ice. ... The Sharks may ask former Blues enforcer Tony Twist to camp next season. If Twist plays more than 20 games, he will have to forfeit the $1-million in insurance money he got when he retired because of a knee injury. ... The Panthers are working hard to sign Mike Sillinger. The former Lightning forward, one of the NHL's best faceoff men, wants to double his $1-million salary. If he is not signed by Monday he likely will be traded. ... Wayne Gretzky practiced with the Coyotes last week. Any chance of a comeback? "Not a chance," he said. ... The Kings are 6-2-1 since inserting Canucks castoff Felix Potvin in goal and 6-1-1 since trading defenseman Rob Blake.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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