Which New York-area coaches have proven their staying power
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the moment, we have a solid lineup. All nine of our professional sports teams have coaches in place, and as of this moment — and yes, that moment can be fleeting, but as of right now — none of them are going anywhere.
Who’s secure? Who’s shaky? Who should buy? Who should rent? Here’s a look at The Nine, from longest-tenured to shortest, with a sense of how long it might be until we have a New Nine.
1. John Hynes, Devils
Hired: June 2, 2015 (1,320 days, through Friday)
Buy or rent? Buy. A year ago it would’ve been crazy to think that Hynes’ job might be in jeopardy because the Devils were one of the great stories in the NHL. A year later they are one of the great disappointments in the league and there was some speculation that the team might go in a new direction until Jan. 3, when the Devils awarded the second-winningest coach in their history (behind Jacques Lemaire) with a multi-year extension. Still, nothing is forever and Hynes would be wise to find a way to recapture last season’s magic sooner rather than later.
2. Kenny Atkinson, Nets
Hired: April 17, 2016 (1,000 days)
Buy or rent? Buy, though it wouldn’t have been so obvious about a month ago, only because it looked like the Nets were backsliding into another abyss. But Atkinson has terrific support from his bosses, is considered far and wide to be among the brightest young coaches in the game, and his message has penetrated the Nets, who have played themselves into playoff position. And Atkinson has almost surely coached his way toward next year, when the Nets hope to assemble a roster that competes with the conference big boys.
3. Mickey Callaway, Mets
Hired: Oct. 23, 2017 (446 days)
Buy or rent? Rent. He was hired by a different administration so right away his leash would be shorter than usual. He was mostly unimpressive in his maiden voyage as a manager, showing a regular strategic ineptitude and a goofy persona with the media, neither of which have long shelf lives in New York. It would really behoove Callaway to get off to a good start in 2019, one that — unlike his rookie season — doesn’t turn due south around May 15 or so.
4. Aaron Boone, Yankees
Hired: Dec. 4, 2017 (404 days)
Buy or rent? Buy, but Boone has one of the most-discussed 100-win seasons in baseball history. Hot stretches were mostly credited to a deep, talented roster, while losing streaks were generally stuck on his back. Nothing new there, really, but Boone did show an aplomb for job’s daily grind and his self-confidence seemed mostly unshaken despite the slings and arrows he endured every day on talk radio. No Yankees manager owns the office forever, but this isn’t 1983, either. The men in charge are generally patient and reasonable.
5. Pat Shurmur, Giants
Hired: Jan. 22, 2018 (355 days)
Buy or rent? Buy. The Giants are still in many ways reeling from having to fire Ben McAdoo after a year and a half on the job, so you can guarantee they are going to give Shurmur every benefit of every doubt, even though his first year was, putting it nicely, uneven. Still, the team did play better toward the end of the season than they did at the beginning, a positive reflection on the coach and he still has the kind of innovative offensive mind that ought to yield results with the skill players at his disposal.
6. David Fizdale, Knicks
Hired: May 7, 2018 (250 days)
Buy or rent? Rent. Fizdale’s skin isn’t in any immediate danger, but we are going to see fairly soon how much of his much-reputed influence throughout the league he really has when the Knicks try to upgrade their roster starting next year. His limited resources make judging his in-game acumen almost impossible to judge and mostly he seems to have fit in perfectly in the holding-pattern long-term strategy created by the men above him on the Knicks’ corporate flow chart.
7. David Quinn, Rangers
Hired: May 23, 2018 (234 days)
Buy or rent? Buy. Quinn knew what he was giving up — one of the signature hockey programs in the country at Boston University — and what he was coming to — a team that took the shocking step of admitting a full tear down to its fans last year, and would be continuing the same path this year. In many ways, the fact the Rangers are as close to break-even as they are tells you how much promise Quinn has as a coach. He has seemed to grind against the low expectations at times, also a good sign. And as impatient as James Dolan can be, he always has had a lot more patience for the hockey end of his operation than the basketball end.
8. Barry Trotz, Islanders
Hired: June 21, 2018 (205 days)
Buy or rent? Buy. Trotz’s impact has been immediate and his inherent winning ways have helped the Islanders fans almost forget they were spurned by John Tavares mere weeks after Trotz came on the job. He is the defending Stanley Cup coach and every game he coached we see it was no accident the Capitals finally fulfilled their title aspirations under him last year. Maybe the best New York coaching hire since Tom Coughlin.
9. Adam Gase, Jets
Hired: Jan. 11, 2019 (1 day)
Buy or sell? Well, if you listen to much of the immediate backlash, he might as well not even bother with a long-term-stay hotel. But Sam Darnold’s new best friend will be given plenty of time to develop the prizes quarterback. Go ahead and buy.
I wrote this the day after Todd Bowles was fired and I’ll stick by it: I personally would have picked Mike McCarthy over Adam Gase, but its not like they bypassed Vince Lombardi here. With neither Harbaugh in play, there were no slam dunks for the Jets.
My on-deck reading list tends to get unwieldy, but I’m so glad I’ve finally read “Fun City” by Sean Deveney — a sensational look at the likes of Joe Namath, John Lindsay and the unique landscape of New York in the ’60s. Just a fantastic read.
This is highly subjective, so I don’t expect everyone (or even anyone) to agree with me, but I enjoy listening to Tony Romo more than any other football analyst ever. Even Madden.
I think both New York baseball teams have managed to make themselves both better and more interesting without even making an offer to one of the two crown-jewel free agents, and isn’t that supposed to be the bottom line?
Whack Back at Vac
Alan Hirschberg: Give the Jets credit for not hiring an untested assistant. This time they got a guy who’s already proven he can’t coach.
Vac: Sounds like a lot of Jets fans are quoting Hawkeye to B.J. on the day Winchester showed up at the 4077 when it comes to Adam Gase: “Let’s avoid the Christmas rush and start hating him now.”
Frank Alecci: Here it is, the second week in January, and I can’t watch the Knicks and I feel sick over Rangers. Tanking is the worst. I see few players on both teams that give me hope for a turnaround sometime soon, and I doubt the ability of the GM’s and coaches at this point.
Vac: Other than that, things are just peachy at the world’s most famous arena.
@zekezaleski: Potvin sucks!
@MikeVacc: Every now and again it’s good to remember what Rangers-Islanders is supposed to feel like.
Scott Wolinetz: Mike, it feels like it’s 1985 again with St. Johns being relevant again. Might have to grow out my mullet for old-time’s sake.
Vac: I could get behind a “Mullin’s Mullet’s” cheering section for damn sure.
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