Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Don’t Hate Too Much On Cappy

This week we got a surprisingly bad reaction from fans regarding the coaching direction of the Golden Knights. The Creator’s “unwillingness” to overpay for Claude Julien started a conversation about financial commitment. Some even went as far as to call him cheap. Let’s clear something up, the man is about to finish to paying off $500 million for an NHL team, he’s not cheap. But fans are getting nervous that The Creator won’t do everything he can do to win hockey games. When he said $4.5 million for Julien was too much for Vegas, fans took that as not being fully invested.

If Vegas chooses a coach like Jack Capuano or Gerard Gallant fans are going to voice themselves. The Creator is realistic, the organization is committed to the future. Passing on a big name coach isn’t a sign of cheapness, it’s a sign of a responsible approach eyeing that future rather than instant gratification.

I’ve written about Capuano’s fit in Las Vegas, but he’s not a popular among fans. Here’s a comment from on Capuano back in late November.

Take Capuano, please. Take his assistants, too. They make no adjustments. They have ruined more players (high draft picks) than they have developed. The GM might be part of that, too but playing time & in game is on the coach. They have stopped playing hard, and for the past two plus seasons, I have never seen so many late goals (both end of periods & games) given up in 45 years of watching hockey. I will drive him to the airport if you want. -pfh64


Many people think Capuano underachieved in New York. Complaints are he cannot develop talent and won’t use analytics to assist his decisions. All are very good reasons to be down on a potential Vegas coach. However, is that really Jack Capuano? Or is that what you say about a coach who was just fired?

I’m here to tell you, he isn’t anything like the comment above, and the countless others we’ve received on social media.  Let me try and quiet the storm in Las Vegas. Here’s how Jack Capuano compares to other available coaches.

Jack CapuanoClaude JulienKen HitchcockLindy Ruff
Seasons as HC6142119
Win %.536.603.606.562
Playoff Appearances481410
Playoff Record10-1461-4786-8266-54
Playoff %.417.560.512.550
Stanley Cups0110
Key PlayersTavares, HalakBrodeur, Chara, ThomasModano, Nieuwendyk, Belfour, HullHasek, Satan, Peca
Jack CapuanoDan BylsmaGerard GallantJon Cooper
Seasons as HC6865
Win %.536.624.518.591
Playoff Appearances4613
Playoff Record10-1443-352-425-25
Playoff %.417.551.333.500
Stanley Cups0100
Key PlayersTavares, HalakCrosby, MalkinJagr, Nash, Ekblad, LuongoStamkos, Bishop, St. Louis, Hedman


Here’s a breakdown of Capuano vs. the more experienced coaches in their first six seasons behind the bench.

Jack CapuanoClaude JulienKen HitchcockLindy Ruff
Seasons as HC6First 6First 6First 6
Win %.536.616.650.531
Playoff Appearances4354
Playoff Record10-1414-1547-3332-22
Playoff %.417.483.588.593
Stanley Cups0010
Key PlayersTavares, HalakTheodore, Souray, Chara, Thomas, Savard, RafalskiModano, Nieuwendyk, Belfour, HullHasek, Satan, Peca, Zhitnik

As you can see, Capuano has average numbers over his first six years. However, evidence proves his rosters lacked talent. Also, New York’s ownership over the past six seasons have been a mess, and Capuano became a victim. With a new, dedicated direction, the 50 year-old could be the players/owner’s coach Vegas desires. If he is, Capuano could be around for six-plus seasons easily. If that’s the case I feel good about his success.

Another reason for optimism is the this list of active coaches who won cups after getting fired. Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien, Mike Sullivan, Darryl Sutter, Mike Babcock, Peter Laviolette, John Tortorella

Not too shabby, and I could definitely see Capuano’s name on that list someday.


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  1. RJ

    That was a very heated comment section, so I’m sure many commenters were upset that Foley would not be willing to fork out $4-5million for a head coach before we even have our first player. My issue is not the budget, it isn’t even Capuano (though the prospect of Cap makes Gallant look pretty good) it is that lack of transparency seems to be the norm in this organization.

    I have no problem with an internal budget for our first HC, I have no problem with Foley and GM deciding not to compete for top coaching talent in the first few seasons (though I disagree with it). I have a problem with Foley TELLING us money is no object, and that we are competing to bring top coaches to Las Vegas, but the reality is the opposite.

    Yes, Foley bought the team and is bringing a franchise to Las Vegas (or is he just bringing it to Vegas?) but I am not willing to deify the guy. Since he created the team he has made it abundantly clear that he could give two poops about the fan base. This team is by Foley and for Foley and if we want to give him money to watch him play with his new toy he is fine with it. The lack of communication, the insulting name, the near complete lack of natives in the organization; all this tells me that we as fans are merely a nuisance. And now; before the puck has even dropped or we even have our first player in uniform, Foley is building the reputation of a guy whose words cannot be trusted.

    A lot of commenters have toyed with the idea that some top coach or free agent might come to town at a discount for the thrill of being part of the creation of a team. Others think that after the first few seasons Las Vegas will become a desired location due to climate and low cost of living. Maybe we do have those things going for us, but it will all be dashed by a secretive, controlling, primadonna owner. I hope that is not what we have, I am waiting for evidence that it is not.

    As far as Capuano goes, he is palatable, but boy I feel like we should be able to do much better. If we sign Capuano that tells me no one actually good wants to come to town. The Islanders are playing so much better under Weight that I wonder if if Cap really has what it takes to run a bench at all. To use an analogy created on this board, if Gallant is Applebee’s then Capuano is Roberto’s taco shop. Looks kind of good but will probably lead to regret. My conspiracy theory is that management is floating all these Capuano rumors so that when they sign Gallant he looks great by comparison.

  2. PhiSig 150

    Here’s my problem. If you have an internal budget fine but you don’t need to announce it. If you have a cap on how much you want to spend on a coach, ok I guess, but again why does this need to talked about right now? It just makes him sound cheap and it not the message you want to put out there when you’re trying to get the city excited about your new team. It also puts Capuano in a bad position right out of the starting gate with the fans. Is he the best man for the job or simply the best we can afford? You need to make Capuano feel like he’s the girl you want to bring home to mom not the girl you picked up during last call. Give the man a vote of confidence and even if you have to bend the truth slightly you need to make the fans feel our club is in the best hands possible.

    Maybe he’s shrewdly playing Sin Bin and Blessing to negotiate through the press with his actual #1 choice. But that would require him to again be the Michael Corleone type evil genius that got a team in Las Vegas in the first place, not the Fredo that bungled the naming of the team and not the Sonny he’s now that reveals what’s he’s thinking outside of the family. He really needs to think more before he speaks.

    On a side note can we stop using the franchise fee as an argument that he won’t be a cheap owner and that he’ll do whatever it takes to win. He paid the lowest price he could to own a major pro sports team. You need a billion dollar offer min. to get a seat at the table in the NFL, MLB, and NBA. He also came into city with arena that was going to be built regardless and he didn’t have to foot the complete bill/ expect tax payers to pony up for. So really it’s the minimum a multi billionaire had to pay for a legacy team/shiny toy. Hope he’s not looking at this as a potential revenue stream.

    • James

      @PhiSig 150
      ‘On a side note can we stop using the franchise fee as an argument that he won’t be a cheap owner and that he’ll do whatever it takes to win. He paid the lowest price he could to own a major pro sports team. You need a billion dollar offer min. to get a seat at the table in the NFL, MLB, and NBA. He also came into city with arena that was going to be built regardless and he didn’t have to foot the complete bill/ expect tax payers to pony up for. So really it’s the minimum a multi billionaire had to pay for a legacy team/shiny toy. Hope he’s not looking at this as a potential revenue stream.’

      Sharing an AHL team could also be interpreted as being frugal. As Ken wrote, it’s not an ideal situation.

      Jason can point to Capuano’s ability to develop players, but would Foley hire Capuano instead of Julien if the future hall of famer cost $1 million less than Capuano? When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

  3. James

    @PhiSig 150
    That’s why Bill Belichick gives nothing away to the media. The more you open your mouth, its very easy to slip up. The subject of an internal salary cap wouldn’t have cropped up if he didn’t flap his gums to Brian Blessing. I was quite surprised by Foley answering Jason’s question. He didn’t need to broach the subject. The situation would have taken care of itself. I admire his transparency, but he comes across as cheap to a section of the fanbase.

  4. pfh64

    Capuano had his team’s play aggressive and fearless in his first four years. They made the deals for Leddy & Boychuk, then they made the playoffs and that 14-15 season ended in a series that saw the Islanders play hard, but they couldn’t hold up to the injuries. That following season the team started to play scared and not to lose. They were good enough to get into a playoff spot. They beat an upstart Panthers team for its first playoff win in 23 years. They did not play well at all v TB in round two. This year speaks for itself. They did it with a PP that stunk, still does, but the other night was the first time this year (which I can remember), they actually played two defensemen on PP (they scored, incidentally.

    If you guys here like him, cool. That is what makes sports fun. Keep up the good work gentlemen.

    • RJ

      Is it possible that John Tavares would follow Capuano? I know the Isles will be frantic to sign Tavares, but technically he would enter free agency this offseason if they don’t come to terms. I know Capuano can’t make that promise but if Foley and McPhee think they’d have a chance at Tavares perhaps that is influencing their decision? Just a thought.

  5. Wow. Lot to take in here, but a lot of good stuff.

    First, I’m going to agree to no longer referring to the $500 million as the reason he’s not cheap. Fair points were brought up, and I agree with them. However, I do think there’s something to be said about his stake in T-Mobile, the $25+ mil practice facility, the ridiculous amount of money they spent on “finding” Kerry Bubolz (there was a six figure search firm), and countless other things he’s spent on that either go unnoticed or untalked about.

    I just think the characterization of being cheap is unfair. It honestly makes no sense to spend top top dollar on a coach at this point. That money should be/could be spent on much better things at this time. No one, including the guy running the team, thinks they are winning the Cup in the first six years. So hiring a Julien for $5 mil a year vs. hiring a Capuano at $2 means a savings of $18 million dollars over the course of the six years. I personally believe that in the NHL (and most sports for that matter) a coach can only take you up one rung. Meaning you go from crap to average, average to good, good to great, or great to elite. They aren’t going to have great talent until at least year 5, and even that’s a stretch. So spending on a coach now would effectively be wasting money.

    As for discussing the internal budget, to me that’s like saying the sky is blue. Of course there’s a budget, even the richest of the rich have a budget. I’ve been super critical about their unwillingness to give up information, that’s never been the case with Foley, and it’s probably my favorite thing about the guy. I get why some people view it as being cheap, and believing that it goes against the “do anything to win” attitude, but I just don’t view it that way. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it’s always important to look at what it could be. Someone brought up Belichick, it could be that way, and that’s not how I want this organization to deal with the media. I like the winning, but I don’t believe that works everywhere.

    I just ask, if you think he’s cheap, consider what you would do in the position he’s in. Would you employ the highest paid coach in the NHL to stand behind what’s likely to be in the bottom three in talent? Or would you rather try to find someone else who you can pay less, someone who could possibly have a higher ceiling (we can argue that) and use that money on marketing, fan interaction, giveaways, etc. Doing the one thing I believe they need to do even more than winning, grow their fan base. No matter who they hire, it’s not going to change the short term success of the organization, so how is it cheap to not be willing to break the bank in that situation.

    This one is the smart move, not a trend. But you guys know damn well that if it does become a trend, I’ll be here to call it out. 18 months into running the website and covering this team, I can honestly tell you I don’t even have the slightest concern that the owner’s wallet is going to stand in the way of team success. Maybe it’s the reason I don’t view this one how many others do. In the end, I might be wrong, and I’ll be willing to admit it if I am. But at this point I don’t think I am.

    • Phisig150

      Fair enough. I would probably higher the youngish hotshot up and comer and tell him as long as he shows growth year to year first 5 years he’s safe then I expect a winning record year 6. I go Hinkie on ice. I’d also sell it better to the fans. I’m hoping the 24 hour open house is sign of great things to come. So far I’m just not seeing the money spent that should be in my opinion. Hoping this is changing.

      • James

        Forget the cup, I would like to know if the mandate is to make the playoffs in 3 years. Has the mandate changed after Foley’s sudden change of heart? 3 years is very ambitious if we are building through the draft. I would love to know the answer. Ken? Jason? I could see McPhee throwing Capuano under the bus if we don’t make it. The general manager has a longer leash than the coach.

        • In Foley’s mind the plan is still playoffs in three. It’s ambitious, but with the cap space they’ll have, likely three or four solid youngsters from the Entry Drafts, and should be able to pick up some nice pieces via trade/free agency in the second and third years. Keep in mind, 16 teams go to the playoffs. There are 31 in the league. You can literally be in the 48th percentile and make the postseason.

          You could be right on the coach though. In McPhee’s eyes, it may be better to grab an easier scapegoat if he doesn’t meet Foley’s expectations rather than a superstar coach that causes everyone to look at the GM. (Not saying that’s the case, but you certainly have a point.)

  6. Phisig150

    This team still needs a splash. Didn’t get it with the name. Not looking like it’ll be the coach. Maybe the drafts if we land #1 in the entry or maybe a surprise in the expansion. Just seems like we’re missing that thing to get excited about (outside of a new team of course).

    • Oh I couldn’t agree more about this. I’m not usually going to say steal from the MLS, but there’s something to the MLS model of taking that aging star to sell tickets. That or my idea to do whatever it takes to end up with the 1st and 2nd picks in this draft. That way you can sell hope for 5 years.

  7. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    As for discussing the internal budget, to me that’s like saying the sky is blue. Of course there’s a budget, even the richest of the rich have a budget.

    The richest of the rich are willing to pay up to the salary cap ceiling. The Toronto Maple Leafs pay millions of real money to get rid of players to create more cap space. They go above and beyond to win. The ‘frugal’ have an internal salary cap. A ceiling within the salary cap. Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators are millions of dollars under the salary cap ceiling, but have reached their internal ceiling. If the Senators really wanted to they could improve their team on the ice by spending more money, but they elect not to due to the internal salary cap. Ask Senators fans how they feel about Eugene Melnyk.

    • I see what you are saying. I wouldn’t sell Foley short on hitting the cap… eventually. I think McPhee has basically told him that it makes no sense to throw money away at this point. I could be reading the man incorrectly, but I highly doubt this will ever be a fan base that barks about the owner being too frugal.

      • PhiSig 150

        None of us expect him to spend wildly and recklessly but from his comments and money spent outside of the franchise fees and buildings we’re starting to get a little worried. The all day event is a step in the right direction. Do you think he’d be willing to essentially buy draft picks? It’s not throwing money away if you take a bad deal on for a year or two but you get draft compensation.
        It’s going to sound petty and maybe even a little strange but the shape of the locker room is going to tell me a lot about what type of owner Foley is going to be. If it still looks like an Econo Lodge conference room or now resembles something closer to the Oilers, I think will be a good indication of how willing he is going to be to spend and if the Knights will truly be a top notch organization.

  8. James

    In regards to the internal salary cap, I don’t think it’s a problem in the short term. If the team is going to build the team the right way through the draft like they stated they don’t need to spend up to the ceiling by making big splashes in free agency.

    Some fans may look at the internal salary cap differently once we have a contender on our hands and Foley isn’t willing to go the extra mile. We might be one player away from winning the cup, but the budget doesn’t stretch that far. Perhaps we have to let homegrown players go due to the self-imposed salary cap in order for the franchise to break even or turn a profit.

    In regards to John Tavares, I think Las Vegas will be a destination city for free agents in the future, but the extra year that the Islanders can offer Tavares in term is a valuable bargaining chip. Vegas can only offer Tavares 7 years compared to the Islanders 8 years. Plus timing is a factor again. If Claude Julien doesn’t want to coach an expansion team why would Tavares want to play for an expansion team albeit one year down the road?

  9. IslesFan83

    Isles fan here and I just want to add my 2 cents. This article wants to be contrarian against a potential flood of Capuano hate but its off the mark on a few things (like Isles ownership, its actually been stable since 2000 when Charles Wang bought the team and slowly phased in Malkin and Ledecky the last 2 years. Maybe the author meant where they were going play?)

    Also, the Islanders did not have a lack of talent under Jack Capuano previous to this year. The NY article linked is about this past offseason where Garth Snow completely bungled the line up. This year’s terrible start is more on Snow than Capuano for sure, but this was not the case his whole tenure.

    Capuano is a decent coach with a mix of good and bad. He is a coach that will take your talent and make you just good enough, but not the one to push your team over the edge into real contention. He is also unable to take an undermanned team and elevate them.

    For the good, he is a players coach and his guys usually respond well to him. He teaches defensive responsibility. He’s had experience in the playoffs and was able to get the Islanders to back to back 100 pt seasons. He is a pretty decent systems guy and if the team is executing the game plan usually works.

    Now for the drawbacks, the main one is that he is too anchored in “the old NHL”. He prefers a more grind it out, simple, defensive approach while the league is transitioning into a more speed-based possession game and this causes problems. He leans on his “responsible” vets, even if they are turn over machines, and reduces ice time for younger players who tend to play a higher risk, higher reward style. His lineup decisions would frequently dumb-found Islander fans by repeatedly putting in older, less talented players over the younger more skilled guys. This is part of the reason the Isles have surged since Weight took over. The younger guys are not being healthy scratched and the team is allowed to play a faster, up tempo game. Rookies are no longer scratched for days for a couple mistakes. Yes they are bleeding goals, but they are also scoring (and winning) more. Capuano’s strict code of a tight game was suffocating the Islanders.

    Finally, an alarming trend picked up on by Islanders fans this year: with the exception of Tavares, Nelson, and Lee (the Isles highest end talent), players under Capuano have a statistical regression. And I don’t mean towards an average. Players such as Grabner, Leddy, Strome, Boychuck, DeHaan have experienced great first years under Cappy and then slowly dropped off each following season. While its hard to actually establish causality here, the prevailing theory among Isles fans is that good players begin to suffer in Cappy’s system. Taught to go against their instincts. Isles fans the last few years have watched highly regarded prospects and even a few vet acquisitions come in, tear it up, and then disappear.

    I know this has gone on far too long, but I hope its helpful to hear about it from a fan who has been “day to day” with Cappy for years. He isn’t going to sink a team, but unless he changes his style for a newer, faster NHL, he’s not going to elevate one either.

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