Because Islanders fans can’t wait to embrace a man so closely associated with the last time the Rangers won anything. From Newsday’s Alan Hahn.

The Islanders have announced a “major Hockey Operations announcement” for Thursday afternoon, where it is expected, according to persons with knowledge of the situation, that former Rangers general manager Neil Smith will be named the team’s next GM.

On top of this, it is possible owner Charles Wang will also announce a decision in the coaching situation. Several sources within the NHL Wednesday night said former Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan’s name has come up prominently as a candidate for the Islanders.

Nolan (above), 47, who spent the past season coaching junior hockey in Moncton (QMJHL), was a finalist for the Islanders head coaching position in 2001, before the Islanders decided to hire Peter Laviolette. Nolan was Coach of the Year for Buffalo in 1997, but left the organization over a contract dispute and hasn’t been in the NHL since then.

Addendum : The Globe & Mail claims that Nolan will be named coach tomorrow, and Pat LaFontaine will join the club in an advisory capacity.

In Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals, Carolina has a commanding 5-0 lead over Edmonton with a few minutes left in the 3rd period. All 5 ‘Canes goals (the first of which, scored by Andrew Ladd, above) have come against Jussi Markkanen, who got the start ahead of Ty Conklin, the latter still catching heat for turning the puck over to Rod Brind’Amor towards the end of Monday’s 5-4 loss.