Islanders Fire Coach Goring

ByABC News

U N I O N D A L E, N.Y., March 5, 2001 -- Butch Goring's fate as New York Islanderscoach was sealed with a drubbing by the NHL's worst team.

The Islanders took over that distinction Saturday night whenTampa Bay beat them 6-0 at home. Goring then became the seventh NHLcoach to lose his job this season.

"For those of you who were here, you witnessed a team that lostits way," said general manager Mike Milbury, whose job for nextseason was guaranteed last month by team owners. "I've always feltthat the measure of a team is whether they are disciplined andmotivated.

"That was probably the worst performance we've had to date."

Henning Steps In

Goring was replaced on an interim basis by assistant and formerteammate Lorne Henning, who coached the Islanders during thelockout season of 1994-95.

"Butch is a good friend, good person and a good coach,"Henning said. "He's an Islander. It's a sad time for everyone, butyou have to move forward. I've been in the business 30 years. Ihave Islander blood. We have to right the ship and get thingsgoing."

Goring was dismissed with 17 games remaining in another lostseason. He appeared to be on shaky ground after owner Charles Wangendorsed Milbury for next season and not Goring.

At that time, Milbury also didn't promise Goring's return to theIslanders (17-40-5-3), who have not reached the postseason since1994.

Players Faulted for Skid, Too

Milbury didn't let the players off the hook, either.

"We feel at this point that we can't play out the string," hesaid. "I spoke with the players, and this is not the easy way outfor them. I told them that we win as an organization and lose as anorganization.

"I have failed the coach and so have they."

Milbury said it would have been easier to fire himself ratherthan Goring. But he dismissed the coach in a morning meeting atNassau Coliseum and then addressed the team.

"The guy certainly cares as much as anybody about the Islandersorganization," Milbury said. "The guy deserved a better fate anda better effort from his players."

Henning said he spoke briefly to Goring and said he was "shookup."

The Islanders have a league-low 42 points — one fewer than TampaBay.

"We recognize that we have not had anywhere near the type ofseason we expected to have," Milbury said. "Each one of thoseindividuals in that room had some measure of responsibility withthe decision that was made."

Henning will be behind the bench tonight at the New YorkRangers.

"Hopefully, we can win some games, get some passion and energygoing again and have some fun in these last 17 games," saidHenning, who will work with assistants Greg Cronin and SteveStirling.

Henning and Goring Have Long History

Henning takes over a team that has lost four straight.

Goring was 41-89-14-4 with New York since taking the job at thestart of the 1999-00 season, when he inherited the youngest team inthe league.

"It's sad," said Mariusz Czerkawski, the team's top scorerwith 23 goals and 47 points. "You never want to see this happen."

With 11 new faces in the lineup this season, and after a 6-4-2start, they endured eight- and seven-game losing streaks. Thetroubles were compounded by injuries to key players.

"It's really disappointing," said Brad Isbister, New York'sfifth-leading scorer who has been limited to 49 games. "Butch is agreat guy and a great coach. I feel that the team is to blame as awhole. The coach is the one who usually pays the price in instanceslike this."

Isbister hurt his knee in Saturday's loss and will most likelybeen sidelined for the season.

Goring and Henning were teammates for parts of two seasons from1980-81, when the Islanders won the first two of four straightStanley Cups. Goring was on the club for the last two championshipsas well, while Henning was an assistant coach to Al Arbour.

Henning served as an Islanders assistant from 1981-84, and1989-94. He was the head coach in the lockout season beforebecoming an assistant with Chicago for three seasons. He returnedas an Islanders assistant in 1998.

Milbury has fired five coaches, including himself twice, duringthe 5½ years he has been Islanders general manager.

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