CHARLES WANG ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES
At a press conference this morning at Nassau Coliseum, Islanders owner Charles Wang made the following announcements:
- Steve Stirling has been relieved of his duties as head coach.
- Assistant coach Brad Shaw has been named interim head coach.
- Islanders general manager Mike Milbury, upon the naming of a successor, will step away from the GM position and become a Senior Vice President for Wang's sports properties, which include the Islanders, New York Dragons (AFL), Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) and Islanders Iceworks.
Wang said that the process for hiring a new general manager begins immediately. "My goal is to have someone in place by the June draft and off-season signing period," Wang said. "Until his successor is found, Mike will continue to run hockey operations and work with Coach Shaw because we are not giving up on this season. There are 40 games remaining. We have a very talented team here. I expect us to make a run."
The following is a transcript of Charles Wang's opening remarks to the media:
I wish I did not have to be here today. I'm an owner who prefers to stay behind-the-scenes and allow my staff to do what they do best.
However, it is clear that changes need to be made with the Islanders and, as owner, I am taking the responsibility of delivering the message first-hand.
We have under-performed this season. We have a very talented team. Our fans have every right to be disappointed - so am I and so is everyone in the Islanders family. Let me be clear that our expectations are to bring the Stanley Cup back to Long Island - nothing else.
Since I first became owner, I am very proud of the initial steps we have made in revitalizing the franchise. Our fans have come back and our team has been in the playoffs the last three seasons. But that is simply not good enough.
And that is why we are here today. Steve Stirling has been relieved of his duties as head coach. As everyone in this room knows, Steve is one of the finest gentlemen you will ever meet in any walk of life. 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. It is my hope that Steve will stay in the organization, and I will have that conversation with him in the next day or so.
Brad Shaw will be our interim head coach. 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.
Mike Milbury - as far as I'm concerned, Mike Milbury is the proudest New York Islander of them all. I understand that this is part of the sports business, where for good reason you are judged on wins and losses. But there is so much about Mike Milbury and his decade with our organization that even our most die-hard fans do not know. But I do, and so does everyone inside our Islanders family.
Even prior to our current slump, Mike and I had been discussing the next phase for him. I have often challenged him about what he wanted to do when he grows up. Yesterday, Mike came to me and selflessly said that the time had come for a change in the general manager's seat. 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.
Knowing what's inside Mike's heart, I knew that could not have been easy for him. He deserves the ultimate respect of anyone who cares about this team.
I'm happy to report that Mike will remain at my side. When a successor in his role as general manager is found, Mike will become Senior Vice President for all of my sports properties. He will play a vital role behind-the-scenes with the Islanders, Dragons, Sound Tigers and Islanders Iceworks and also be instrumental when we move into a transformed Coliseum and new Athletic Complex.
Mike and I begin the process of finding a new general manager for the Islanders immediately. I will also listen to the counsel of friends and colleagues around hockey, but I know what we need. My goal is to have someone in place for the June draft and off-season signing period. Until his successor is found, Mike will continue to run hockey operations and work with Coach Shaw because we are not giving up on this season. There are 40 games remaining. We have a very talented team here. I expect us to make a run.
Finally, I want to thank our fans for standing by us. I will now take your questions.