Garth Snow has found ways to remain New York Islanders GM. It is now time for him to take his team to the next step this season.
By Michael Iuzzini
New York Islanders fans have endured hockey hell ever since they hoisted their last cup in 1983. I know this because, I too am a victim. A victim of being a dedicated fan who has been dragged through the mud pulled out and kicked right back down again.
Through all of the turmoil general manager Garth Snow has found a way to keep his position as GM and has really never been threatened in losing that seat.
As a fan, I have called for Snow’s head more often than not. Trust me, I am not writing this piece to find excuses or say hey give the guy a chance. He’s had plenty of opportunities to make the team better in the past and failed to do so.
It’s obvious that Snow has nine lives. He as been Houdini like in finding ways to escape death where he should have been removed many moons ago.
Do not think that Snow has job security right now. It is put up or shut up time. He has 10 more months, or at most one more season to show his worth to the new ownership. He must prove that he knows how to manage a team, especially now that he has true support and financial backing to go with it.
Looking back at Snow’s tenure, there is a gross chronological history that the Islanders have in the past that might just explain how Garth has kept his job.
From criminal owners, previous general managers, coaches, NYIsles (worse mascot ever), the list of internal team and organizational enemies is endless. Terrible leadership and bad business practices had brought the franchise on the brink of folding, as well as the threat of being relocated out of New York.
For almost two decades Islanders fans felt betrayed and overwhelmed with false promises. It was a cycle of zero stability and caused a diminishing fan base.
All die-hard supporters can recall to mind sitting in an empty Nassau Coliseum during the Milbury era. We had to painfully witness an Islanders squad that was not at all near NHL caliber, or even minor league level of play. The team showed no signs of hope, promise or financial wherewithal.
Any glimpse of light that exposed itself, Islanders fans did their best in clinging onto the chance the organization would somehow right the ship.
Fast forward to Charles Wang.
Wang did what a good business man does and invest into his investment. Wang put his finest efforts in attempting to bring the Islanders back to their winning ways.
One cannot say Wang did not try. He opened his wallet and had high aspirations in putting the best product on the ice that he could afford. Yes, the Rick DiPietro contract was ridiculous, but Wang wanted to lock down a franchise player for his team and get their identity back in the NHL.
Charles was losing $20 million dollars a season and had to handcuff his hockey guys from spending. This forced Snow to keep the team as low to the Cap level as possible.
The Islanders turned to scouting and growing their players from within, which meant they had to continue to lose so one day they could win.
Once Wang was denied his plans in redeveloping the area surrounding the Coliseum and the new arena was officially voted down by local residents, the frustrated owner began to check out.
We are all aware of the results. Wang’s threat of moving off the Island or out of New York all together conclusively became a reality.
In the mix of this carnival of nightmares, Snow retired as a player and took the reins of General Manager in July of 2008. This came right after Neil Smith was dismissed only spending 41 days on the job.
like I said, I have been right there with the “Garth Must Go,” chants myself. The GM through the seasons is guilty of moves that had ill effects on his club.
The trades Snow made were attempts in making the team better with the resources he had at hand.
Acquiring Ryan Smith was to lift his team and generate some noise in the playoffs. The ambition was for Smith to see that the Isles were growing, believe in the team and sign long-term. That did not happen. The Islanders were eliminated in the first round against the Buffalo Sabres and Smith signs with the Colorado Avalanche.
Same goes for the Thomas Vanek deal. Snow trades Matt Moulson, who was a fan favorite and best friend to Captain John Tavares, plus a first round draft pick. Vanek, Tavares and Kyle Okposo were the best line in hockey during their brief tenure together.
With the team moving to Brooklyn, it was obvious it was time to start breaking the piggy bank and do whatever needed to be done to keep Vanek. Snow didn’t hold back and offered Vanek a lucrative deal to keep the winger. Vanek turns it down and says in a response like a high school breakup “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Vanek’s rejection of the offer makes Snow vulnerable at the trade deadline which leads to not getting much back and again losing more than was gained.
If Vanek signs, Snow looks like a genious and JT and Okposo keep their winger.
It was a major setback and definitely a punch to the gut again as another star player makes the Isles look bad in not wanting to play for them.
Then last season Snow made what looks like to me the best move he has ever had as the GM, trading for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk.
As the season progressed it was more than apparent that both defensemen needed to be signed long-term. The last season at the barn was a success and the worth of the two players for the team was beyond obvious. Their veteran presence and talent could not get away.
With Leddy and Boychuk signing 7-year contracts it showed the league that this team is for real and they are worth spending the next 7-years of their careers with.
The signings opened an entire different impression for the franchise. The Islanders are now on the NHL radar and players are watching and interested. In the past players would literally cry when finding out they were going to the Island in a trade.
Of course all the credit cannot go to Snow of the new atmosphere in the locker room and the entire organization, but the realization is: Garth has had his hands all over it. This tells me, with all of the bad that has come during his tenure, there looks to be an entire world of good on the horizon.
It has taken a very long time to get the Islanders to the point where they are at now. This team with all its past heartache and pain has come full circle. The light at the end of the tunnel could not be any brighter.
Snow and his scouting team have made the Islanders contenders and they are on the cusp of becoming something very big.
Snow understands business, he has a degree in it, which means he is well aware that there is truly no room for error. There cannot be any setbacks or excuses this coming season. The only direction the team should be going is up. The team is talented enough, knows how to win and winning is a must.
Snow, along with coach Jack Capuano, are going to be on a very short leash. Not short enough where either will get fired during the season, but short enough if there is any setback, both Garth and Jack may just be out of a job before the paint dries on their new office walls.
If by the all-star break the team is struggling, Snow may be forced to replace Capuano to take some of the heat off of him. If the losing continues then Snow may have finally used up his ninth life.
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