With not one but two billboards up just blocks from the Barclays Center, fan’s frustration with the current regime is loud and clear as the pressure shifts to Garth Snow.Garth Snow and the New York Islanders are in the midst of a historical season that has consequences that will last decades. What will become of Belmont? Will John Tavares re-sign with the Islanders? If he doesn’t, how are they prepared to adjust? Snow has a plethora of questions to answer—but before that, here’s how we got to this point in the first place.
The 2017-18 season began with the pressure of a lot of uncertainty.
The Islanders have been unsure of captain John Tavares‘ pending free agency, they are still facing uncertainty in their long-term arena plans, and with the team gradually slipping further and further in the standings, there should be much uncertainty with management’s future as the Isles could miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time in six years.
With that said, the last two things Snow would have thought of grappling with this season would be two billboards demanding his removal.
They're up. #isles pic.twitter.com/BpZBvjSFFs
— Matt Di Giacomo (@mdigiacESNY) February 27, 2018
They’re two identical signs, both read “Snow Must Go”, and if anyone would like to pay them a visit in the next four weeks here’s where they’re located:
For those interested, the billboards are on the corners of Flatbush and 6th; and Atlantic and Classon. They'll stay up for four weeks.
— James "Billboard" Duffy (@TwoTurtleDuffs) February 27, 2018
It’s not like pushback against Isles brass is anything new. In 2014, fans organized a protest called the “Walkout on Wang” during a 6-1 win for the Minnesota Wild at the Nassau Coliseum where fans left the game after the second intermission.
However, tensions have been mounting all season among fans, and after a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets at the Barclays Center, one fan decided enough was enough and organized the billboard movement.
Today, the billboards are up and the message is officially being sent: the patience Islanders fans have with Snow is thin at best, and the team’s recent performance only reflects harder on him with the Islanders’ lack of activity at yet another trade deadline.
While the two acquisitions of Brandon Davidson and Chris Wagner do indeed make the Islanders a better team, they are the types of moves that would help round out a larger, more impactful one.
The timing is almost too appropriate. Just as another trade deadline comes to a close, both billboards go up with refueled retaliation over the lack of activity leading up to yet another trade deadline.
What Happens Next?
With the message sent loud and clear, what will come of the billboard movement? For starters, the probability that any personnel changes regarding management is very low. The Florida Panthers were an exception to that last season and look at how their 2016-17 season turned out.
So, any changes that could be made the Isles’ front office will be dealt with as soon as the last buzzer sounds on the Islanders’ season — whenever that may be.
Also, give consideration as to who would be in line for Snow’s position if he is fired. How many viable candidates are on the market that can appropriately slot into the position of an NHL GM?
Not to mention what could happen with talks to the Tavares camp. The sentiment from JT is that he has maintained a healthy relationship with Snow since he drafted him in the 2009 draft. Any disturbance to that chemistry could cause Tavares to walk, especially given what little progress has been made thus far in regards to contract talks.
Right now, the biggest candidate who could fill Snow’s shoes effortlessly would be Dean Lombardi, who is currently with the Flyers organization working under Ron Hextall as his job search continues.
Lombardi’s work in building the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Kings are the two most attractive bullet points in his resume, but Lombardi has been employed in the NHL for more than a decade serving as a scout for the Flyers among other positions.
Regardless of the nuances, the billboards demanding Snow’s removal will be up for four weeks, long enough for Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin to soak in just how much they have on their plates in the coming months as the Islanders begin to shift into a new era in their history.