New York Islanders

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.1isles2

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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13 COMMENTS

  1. Dude, what? Nobody is calling for his head anymore and people doing that a couple years ago couldn’t see the big picture. When he took the job we had nothing in our system, nothing. Those rebuilds take a lot longer.

  2. This article is a joke. The vanek deal was not a bad deal. I loved moulson, but his stats were overblown because of JT. any player that is a good 2nd or 3rd line player would produce like moulson did if they played with JT. And since his stats were so high, he would have been getting an overpaid salary at the next contract. Perfect time to let him go.
    Most Isles fans were not calling for snow’s head, just the uninformed loud fans that read comment sections and repeat what they think are other “smart” commenters. For every poor decision snow made, he made 5-6 great ones. Doing what he did on the league minimum is amazing. Now he will have to figure out a way to keep all the homegrown stars they are developing when they start reaching the cap ceiling. He’ll lose a few great players as a result, but every team does.

  3. Shame on you for being so conservative and impatient during the Snow era.
    The only two people in their positions I do not find safe are Doug Weight – although a great assistant GM to compliment Snow – and Brian Strait(if he doesn’t stop icing the puck). I have to problem with any of the moves that have been made. Take the necessary incremental steps to get on top. Poor previous ownership and management are what screwed the team in the end. With owners not being patient with Billy Torrey’s next rebuild and Mike Milbury screwing this team over, what did you people think was going to happen?
    All rebuilds are painful – ask Toronto. We’re still at a good position to win it all in 3-5 years. Some moves at the time he made them were questionable but when thought thoroughly made sense – trading for Vanek and not going for Filatov. No reason should Capuano be fired now because like all 29 other NHL coaches, he’s human and makes mistakes too. I say if they fail to win a series within 3 years, you’ll have a point. Now, you’re going to say – that’s too long. My response is – have you seen St. Louis the past 3 years? They’re the epitome of mediocrity in the playoffs. At least we compete in the postseason unlike them, injured or not.
    In the end, I say wait a few years before jumping the gun and stop believing that the team was going to play every month like November 2014.

  4. At last. The voices of reason. Actually, there are a few fans calling for Snow and Capppys head and I agree with this group. They are CRAZY. You guys posting here have covered all the relevant points. You have to look at where the franchise was, what it was up against and what it took for Snow to get to where the team is now and most of all you must consider what he had to work with along the way. This is the turning point and the future is now. New arena, NHL caliber revenue, BIG stage which translates to talent WANTING TO COME HERE, instead of being viewed as being banished to Bogeyland. This franchise is finally on a level playing field. FINALLY. So its only NOW we can truly judge.

    At the same time however, this means the excuses are now over. Now it’s time to produce and the Islanders have the talent already to do it. I for one am glad Snow did not make a big move in vain this offseason. Let the other teams overbuy for big names. I suspect a move will be made, but in due time when the price is right.

    See you all in Brooklyn. CAN’T WAIT. 4 train from Woodlawn here we come!

  5. As an islanders fan I am also in support of Snow. We as fans and even the players have been through more than just losing seasons. We’ve all been through the Spano debacle, Milbury, a plethora of poor coaching. So it may seem like we’re all impatient but in reality it’s been a long time coming. In Snows defense he had to clean up the horrible mess Milbury created which was going to take a long time. But he stuck to his guns and built through the draft. Nothing beats winning with a homegrown team. Which about upwards to 80-85 % is. I think Snow has done a great job in drafting and he now has to show just like Capuano that they’ve learned from this past season. I think the leash on Capuano AND the entire coaching staff for that matter has the shortest leash. If they do not progress it may be time to get an experienced coach AND staff to take this team to the next level

      • I agree Cronins PK really picked it up I just hope it stays consistent. Weights PP was horrid. I think Capuano should get this season only because he’s dealt with some pretty bad teams and has a nice line up now. Last year was a learning experience for all so if there’s no improvement then I think it’s time to get an experienced coach if there’s one available to take them to the next level

        • You can argue that we had a higher chance of winning that series against Washington if Hamonic was there. Seeing how the team gave it everything they got to be more defensive in game 6 and won despite many people, even myself, picked them to lose that game, I can only praise Capuano for that. We need more maturity from deHaan and to see what Pulock and/or Mayfield do. I can’t put that on coaching. Certain aspects of player development aren’t necessarily coachable.

          I predict that we won’t finish any higher than 6th place in the Eastern Conference.