New York Islanders, Garth Snow, 2017 NHL Draft
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow’s job is to build a winning team. Instead, he might be scaring the future away.

Garth Snow has had plenty of time to bolster a New York Islanders defensive corps that has been in trouble since the Opening Night puck drop with unstable personnel. Injuries to Calvin de Haan, Johhny Boychuk and penalty-killing forward Nikolay Kulemin have only made things worse. On some nights, it looks like the team’s best defenseman is the goaltender. But Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have not been the dynamic duo this year that fans were hoping for. That’s a major problem.

Yet Snow continues to do nothing.

Getting closer to the NHL trade deadline, there are some viable targets the Islanders could look to add for help. However, Snow’s best work comes near draft day and early in the season, as we saw in 2014 with his moves to acquire Nick Leddy and Boychuk. Should he continue to sit idly by and let another promising season fade away, the successful future Isles fans were promised will turn into a recurring nightmare.

In-House Youth

Islanders fans remember all too well how Snow and the organization completely botched their handling of Nino Niederreiter. The organization essentially let the then-19-year-old rot in the NHL, giving him just 10:07 of ice time a night over 55 games that saw him record just one point (a goal) in the 2011-12 season. He’s flourished in the NHL since moving on from the Isles, recording three consecutive 20-goal seasons with the Minnesota Wild.S

A case can be made that the Isles are “Niederreiting” talented wing Josh Ho-Sang, who they have seemingly banished to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, never to be seen again.

Sure, the 22-year-old winger has maturity issues. He’s been a healthy scratch for the Sound Tigers and relegated to serving on the team’s third-and-fourth lines at one point. Earlier this month, he told Greg Joyce of the New York Post that the situation is “mentally tough.”

But there’s no denying that he provides far more of a spark to the offense than the likes of Brock Nelson and Jason Chimera, who have had minimal value for quite some time now and are more notable for their lack of production than any positives they bring.

Then there’s this. Early in the year, head coach Doug Weight told NHL.com’s Brian Compton that he would sit the veterans if the younger players outplayed them. Weight has failed to do that—and Snow has failed to hold him accountable for that broken promise, much less stepped in and done something about it.

At this rate, it is only a matter of time before Ho-Sang requests a trade. Perhaps he already has, behind the scenes. Whether he requests one or not, fans will remember that Snow played Shane Prince, Chimera and Nelson rather than give one of the most innovative young wingers in the game a real shot.

Yes, there were times when Ho-Sang tried to make the tough play and turned it over. The way to stop that is by cutting his minutes by two or three for the night. It will teach him and any other young player that there consequences for not making the smart play. Sending him to the minors will mess with his head and perhaps he’ll lose that drive that he’s known for.

Whether it’s Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal or Ryan Pulock—why would any of them want to commit long-term to a franchise that doesn’t seem to have a clue as how to put them in a position to chase a Stanley Cup?

Ilya Sorokin
(Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

The Future

If Snow isn’t willing to improve the team in what—potentially—could be superstar John Tavares’ last season with the club; In a season when Mathew Barzal is a legitimate contender for the Calder Trophy—why should anyone believe that he’ll improve the team at any other point?

Anyone includes goaltending prospects Linus Soderstrom and Ilya Sorokin. Both are allegedly the real deal and, but what is the appeal for them to come over from Europe and Russia, respectively, when the team’s general manager refuses to make the club better?

For Sorokin especially, there must be a real concern. Not only does he have to wonder if the Islanders are going to be competitive on a yearly basis, he has to wonder that if he were to come over, would he suffer the same fate as Vadim Shipachyov?

The 30-year-old winger was sent to the AHL not once, but twice by the Vegas Golden Knights before ultimately returning to Russia frustrated and disgruntled. “The promises which I was given in America didn’t come off,” he told the official website of his current team, SKA St. Petersburg, “but everything works out for the best. A lot of other SKA players who are here now have gone down this route, it’s probably the correct strategy. Now I know that Russian players should think ten times before leaving for abroad, it’s different from what the clubs and agents tell you.”

Those comments, and Snow’s refusal to make any necessary moves—don’t exactly paint a warm picture of the NHL for Sorokin—or any other prospect playing overseas.


Year after year the Pittsburgh Penguins make moves to ensure they have a chance at the Stanley Cup. In 2017, they felt that they had defensive issues, so they added Ron Hainsey and former Islanders captain Mark Streit to bolster the blueline. That is the sign of a team that wants to win and will put forth the effort to do so.

Snow has to understand that it’s not just about the 2017-18 season. Trading and establishing a presence is also about setting things up for tomorrow. It shows free agents, international prospects and players already in the system that the Islanders are committed to building a winning organization, one that contends for Lord Stanley’s Cup on a yearly basis.

With what he’s doing now, he’s only setting the Islanders up for years of mediocrity and disappointment.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is totally on the owners. They had an opportunity to clean house the end of last season. Bringing back Snow and Weight is business as usual. Get used to years of mediocrity and no playoffs until real changes are made.

  2. So let’s just be realistic 1) Islanders in great heads with John Ledecky and Scott Malkin who want to and also have the means to do !! 2) future secured with new arena at Belmont Park 3) playing back at the Coliseum for next 3 years in some capacity 4) 48 percent of teams make the playoffs and as we all know “anything can happen” 5) Tavares will sign to be an Islander forever 6) the future is bright 7) Always Believe ?

  3. Snow making organizational decisions as it would pertain to risk losing JT by choosing to not take long overdue action when needed to improve the defense of this team (which has been the case since before the beginning of the season) and potentially risk missing the playoffs (again) is outrageous and a disservice to the team and the fans – all because Snow apparently never seems to feel compelled to have a legitimate backup Plan B, C, D etc. for when there are needs to be addressed which get exacerbated by inevitable injuries which should be anticipated to occur, particularly when multiple injuries happen to key players in a relatively short time frame.

    It is either mind-boggling ineptness in this regard, or callous disregard of the need to have legitimate fallback options, which keeps repeating itself over and over again for some reason. Snow’s “backup plan” always seems to primarily be to just rely on inexperienced or 4th line type of depth call-ups with the “HOPE” and erroneous anticipation that things would work out.

    The issue is that he never seems to have a feasible backup plan beyond that when things actually DON’T wind up going according to his misplaced and/or unrealistic expectations of those with minimal NHL experience.

    The fact THAT this is ALL part of his infallible strategy, which is predicated on minimal injuries to key players, is short sighted and does not serve the team well in order to maximize chances for success in the face of adversity, as if repeatedly operating in such a manner that he does (as a standard modus operandi approach) is somehow supposed to be considered OK, or appropriate or acceptable, when in fact it’s not, regardless if Snow wishes to erroneously choose to think or believe otherwise.

    And yet despite this, there is never any clarification or explanation about why he chooses to operate the way that he does, or why he doesn’t make moves to address areas that everyone else clearly recognizes is required and feels should be and need to be made.

    It’s as though he lives in his own reality.

    Apparently, it seems as that the expression “lessons learned” is not even in Snow(blind)’s vocabulary.

    Everyone but Snow knows that insanity is doing the same things over and over again but yet expecting different results.

    As such, it would appear that he may be either delusional or insane, or both.

    For the sake of the team and the fans (whose support and revenue the organization relies upon), where is the oversight on the owner’s part regarding this incompetence?
    Where is the justification for non-moves and inaction by sNOw(it all) in the face of obvious and apparent needs of the team?

    As many long-suffering Islander fans know, there are countless articles from various sources from knowledgeable hockey people that anyone can find, which, time after time, point out valid and legitimate issues with the team’s glaring weaknesses and the inexplicable inaction on Snow’s part with respect to these obvious needs.

    As the owners should already be cognizant of, it is incumbent upon them (and their responsibility) to demand accountability, AND action from Snow (regardless of whatever Snow’s ridiculous contract is), particularly knowing that the organization MUST ensure taking steps to improve the team at all costs in light and consideration of being faced with the prospect of the team being set back years if they were to somehow lose their franchise player because of Snow wrongfully choosing to not make it a point to properly address known weaknesses in an adequate, appropriate and timely manner when he should have despite knowing what is at stake.

    Considering what is at stake on many levels – primarily with the JT contract situation, the need to get into AND advance in the playoffs, and also the need to start off with a strong fan support and demand for when the pending new arena opens in a few years, besides the offensive success of their top 2 lines as reflected by their production – all of this will be for naught if Snow doesn’t make it a point to do whatever needs to be done to be creative to figure out ways to make moves to shore up their defense, regardless of whenever Boychuk comes back and regardless of Mayfield and Pulock’s gradual improving play.
    .
    Inaction on the trade front by Snow is not an option, nor should inaction be considered by anyone as an appropriate approach or operating strategy at this point.

    Enough already of sitting pat and sitting on one’s hands.

    Besides being rightfully frustrating and bewildering, it is quite frankly, ridiculous and pathetic.