What Is Going On With The Islanders?
If anyone has watched the Islanders this year, then they know what a disaster it has been. A disaster that started July 1st and hasn’t ended.
Last night’s game against the Avalanche proved to be final tipping point of that disaster. I have been very vocal for my love for the team especially after last year’s playoff appearance. However, Garth Snow has inevitably failed this team along with Charles Wang.
I once wrote an article that read like this “Sometimes I wonder if Garth Snow knows what he is doing as General Manager and sometimes I wonder if he is flat out clueless. When Howie Rose asked Snow how he thought the "rebuild" was going it seemed like he hesitated. It seems every time he is asked any question he has an excuse for something. Now I know that he has made several smart moves to improve the team, just look at Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau, John Tavares, Michael Grabner, and Evgeni Nabokov. While they have put up some excellent numbers the past few years, the progress of the team has been minimal. It now appears that Parenteau will test free agency come July 1st. With the NHL draft around the corner on June 22, 2012, Snow sat down with Puckbuddy.com for a Q & A with fans the other day and answered some interesting questions. One answer stood out to me. According to the article, "Garth calmly replied the rebuild began because he was “sick of finishing as close to the bottom as we are to the top”. He then said numerous places, including Hockeys Future (those boys certainly needed a good plug this week) now cite the Isles as a top 10 farm system. “We now have enough assets where we can move pieces to make the team better now through trades. That wasn’t the case a few years ago.” Now, I have been saying for the last 2 years that if you want to build a winning team you have to sacrifice players to move forward. Since 2007, the Islanders have struggled mightily to win games and have also struggled to attract top name free agents. After acquiring Ryan Smyth in 2007, Snow has not made one decent trade that the fans were thrilled of, myself included. There are many available players for the right price and Garth Snow has to jump on the trade bandwagon as quickly as possible to nab a player who is under contract for the long run. This is especially true since the arena issue is such a mess it will be extremely hard to attract big name free agents. I say if it means trading away prospects who "may" become stars to start moving this team forward then so be it. This team and their fan base deserves much more from a franchise who once won four straight Cups. If the Islanders want a team to model after look at the rebuilding of the Los Angeles Kings. Even after losing Game 4 to the Devils the other night they can still win their first ever Stanley Cup. For years, the Kings were atrocious and couldn't attract any free agents and made some questionable trades over the last 3 years. Here is a team that squeezed into the playoffs and are now one win away from Glory. I think Garth Snow has finally realized that if he keeps signing players past their prime the fans won’t come out and support the team and the Islanders will leave Long Island and New York all together, taking all of their glory of a once proud franchise with them.” I wrote that about a year and a half ago and truthfully it still seems fitting to incorporate into this post.
After making the playoffs last year Islander fans had set their sights and expectations to a new standard. Why? Because we all thought that making the playoffs was going to be the starting point to regain respect and finally become a constant contender for the playoffs.
After failing miserably in free agency, Snow attempted to “right the ship” so to say with acquiring Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres early in October for fan favorite Matt Moulson (who likely wasn’t going to return anyways). At that point Snow said he didn’t like the way the Islanders were playing and he wouldn’t sit around and watch games go by much like previous seasons. Guess what folks? Call him what you want but I call him a liar. If he was a man of his word then during that horrendous thirteen game losing streak he would have fired the coaching staff and acquired a reliable defensemen and a goaltender to right the ship. He didn’t. He sat tight and watched games slip away and praised Coach Capuano. Who by the way, if you listen to his postgame interviews has no idea what he is talking about.
There were many games that never were close and he would say they were in it, and they had their chances to win the game. Let’s be honest though, any diehard fan watching every game can see that Capuano and his staff are clearly watch a different game. Last night’s game was a prime example of that. The Islanders played well for the first half of the first period but after that it was all Colorado. Truthfully, it is getting harder to listen to Capuano during the post games because he clearly doesn’t see what the fans do.
Let’s get back to Snow and Wang for a moment. They both talk about moving this team forward and yet every year seems to have been one step forward a thousand steps backwards. You never hear a word out of Wang or Snow and when you do it’s almost laughable because they want fans to believe that this team is truly destined for greatness. Yet they fail to upgrade their team and move forward. They put too much stock into their own players, who truthfully aside from Cizikas, Martin, Tavares, Nelson, Tavares, Okposo, Clutterbuck (via trade), Neilsen, De Haan, Nabokov and Visnovsky have been flat out terrible. It is time for Snow to clean house with players and bring in NHL proven talent and a head coach who has been successful in the NHL. Clearly, the way things are going right now is not the answer.
Charles Wang has to either do one of two things. Either sell the team or get a whole new management team from top to bottom because the way he conducts the daily operations of the Islanders is not cutting it and fans are furious. All Wang does is continue to be cheap and have a team that only hovers around the cap floor and hires inexperienced AHL coaches. If the Islanders are going to take the next step then they need him to sell the team or rethink his positioning of his staff.
Now that the Islanders are set to move to Brooklyn after next year they need to go out on a high note. Otherwise, Brooklyn is where they will cease to exist, thus ending the storied franchises’ existence.
I will leave you with this thought. It is on Snow and Wang to right the ship and ship themselves out of the organization. That is the only way that this team can truly move forward.