Before I get to the point of this post, I need to say something to ALL Islander fans out there about the Islanders acquiring Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres at the beginning of the year. I have seen enough hate towards him to finally say something about the matter...get over it! This guy is an elite player and Garth Snow was brilliant to get him. For me to say that says something because I don't like Snow in the least bit. Vanek is a playmaker and sniper who can flat out play. Moulson was great for Tavares and the Islanders but in the end he would have wound up leaving for more money and in the end. This is a business like everything else. That's not to say Vanek won't either but there's a better chance he re-signs after spending a full season here. I am tired of hearing and reading everything is Vaneks' fault because guess what...it's not. It's Capuanos', Snows and Wangs'. Thomas Vanek is an all-star player with the ability to score 40 goals a year and makes plays happen and players around him better. I have seen him make plays with Tavares and Okposo that quite frankly Moulson couldn't. Don't get me wrong, I thought Moulson was terrific for the team. I am one of the biggest Islanders fans you will find, However, stop bashing Vanek I have had enough. This team pulls off a heck of a trade to bring in an elite player and all everyone does is complain. Yes, I know this team is not where it should be. I got into journalism because I love to write about my favorite sports and teams in the NHL and MLB. I try to be fair and objective when writing about my favorite teams with the Islanders in hockey and the Yankees in baseball. However, when a player receives undo criticism I feel I must speak out.
Now on to the main point of the article...Can the Islanders be fixed? In short order. Yes. I warn you though there is no quick fix for the Islanders.
Islanders fans can blame the players but ultimately it falls on Wang, Snow and Capuano. The team has more then enough talent to win and compete on a nightly basis. However, they come out flat, lethargic, uninterested, and unprepared. Ultimately, that falls on Capuano. The Islanders have lost eight out of their last ten games and with no "easy" games in sight you can be sure that number is going to get uglier. One has to imagine as I and The Checking Line have reported that Capuano is coaching for his job. Does he make it out of November? Probably not, but IF he does I would be shocked. Once December comes one would think that the leash is even shorter then it is now.
Losing Visnovsky to the concussion early in the season and losing Nabokov were the tipping points of the season. Two veterans who know how to win and shut the door on defenders go out with injuries are detrimental to such a young team.
My thought is that the longer term solution to fixing the Islanders is to have Wang sell. Why wouldn't Wang want to sell the team now, get out and have a whole new regime come in and turn the team around and spend money? I know Brooklyn was Wangs' work and I'm sure he would love to see it through, but let's be honest, myself and every other fan aren't blind to see that this team is not going to improve without some kind of new management. I also find it ironic that Forbes released their NHL team values today and listed the Islanders at number 26th overall with a value of a $195 million. Truthfully, that is surprising as I thought they would be worth less. What if a group came in with just over $200 million? Then what? You don't think Wang would listen? He's a business man who built Computer Associates from the ground up. Show him $200+ million and I'm sure he would sit and talk. Wouldn't you?
Which leads me to Garth Snow. He has made some great moves and some that leave everyone, myself included, scratching their heads. The Vanek trade was great. The fact that he didn't go out and get another defenseman to secure the blue line and a reliable backup goaltender was undoubtedly a very big mistake. He needed to fill those positions. I know the Islanders are a small market team but you can find talent with a smaller budget. Other sports teams manage to accomplish this.
If this team is serious about moving forward they should clean house with the management and coaching staff and make trades to improve this team. The good news with the team is that they are all on pretty reasonable contracts, so they could be moved rather easily.
I'll leave you with that. The Islanders are back in action on Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets at the Coliseum.