Isle be darned ... Mad Mike leaving

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Mad Mike Milbury was finally voted off the Island yesterday.

After a decade of disappointment with Milbury at the helm of the struggling New York Islanders, owner Charles Wang announced he will send the president/GM out to pasture this summer once a replacement is found.

But the move didn't come until after Wang accepted Milbury's recommendation that coach Steve Stirling get the axe.

Former 67's/Senators captain Brad Shaw, an Isles assistant coach, will take over the coaching duties for the rest of this season.

"My goal is to have someone in place by the June draft and off-season signing period," said Wang.

Red Deer owner/GM/coach Brent Sutter, who led Canada to a second straight gold medal at the world junior championships, has already been contacted by the Isles.

It just so happens Sutter is also a former captain of the Isles. Also on the list of candidates is Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli, regarded by many as an "up-and-comer" that deserves a chance.

It makes sense that Sutter could be asked to take over as both GM and coach.

Shaw, 41, was told he was getting the duties on an interim basis -- until the end of the season.

MAKE PLAYOFFS?

"The goal is to make the playoffs," Shaw told the Sun, prior to coaching the Isles to a 3-2 win over Calgary in his debut last night in Uniondale. "I know this is a tough situation to come into, but I feel like it's a good opportunity for me.

"I had to think about it a lot. Somewhere along the way here, we lost our way and we started to convince ourselves that we weren't a good hockey team.

"We've got a good team here, we've got good talent and we're going to have to play pretty good hockey to make the playoffs, but that's not impossible."

Stirling, the seventh coach hired by Milbury, made his own bed with the Isles when he decided to go to war with captain/former Senators centre Alexei Yashin, who he regularly benched.

There was talk out of Long Island last week the club was going to waive Yashin and send him to the minors. That's not realistic -- it was Wang who pushed Milbury to sign the former Senators star to a 10-year, $90-million US deal that has five seasons left. Yashin isn't going anywhere in the near future.

'ONE OF TOP TALENTS'

"We need Alexei Yashin to play the way he's capable of playing every night," said Shaw. "He's one of the top talents in the league and we know how dangerous he can be."

That being said, there are bigger issues with the Islanders. The club sent the likes of Adrian Aucoin, Michael Peca and Eric Cairns packing last summer because the organization felt it had major problems in the locker room and was trying to clean out some of the mess. Meanwhile, Michael York, Miroslav Satan, Alexei Zhitnik and Brent Sopel were brought in.

The changes haven't worked: The team has been undisciplined and many suggest there are issues in the dressing room. The organization may need another overhaul.

Shaw knows he's not inheriting a team expected to win the Stanley Cup.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Shaw, a disciple of legendary 67's GM/coach Brian Kilrea. "I didn't accept this right away. I wanted to think about it and I didn't sleep much last night.

"There's a lot of work to do, but you don't get many opportunities and this was just too good a chance to pass up."

Wang just decided he couldn't stick with Milbury.

"Our fans have every right to be disappointed -- so am I and so is everyone in the Islanders family," said Wang.

"Let me be clear that our expectations are to bring the Stanley Cup back to Long Island -- nothing else."

And while the Islanders pursue that Cup, their fans won't be able to knock Mad Mike around anymore.


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