Friday, August 03, 2007

Garth Snow, you marvelous bastard

There is always something going on with the Islanders, always a lot of drama surrounding these cats. a long time ago I had a family connection to the club, so I always kept tabs on them to some extent, just out of habit. I've been watching more closely since Smyth went there at the trade deadline though, and it's a fascinating situation, similar in a lot of ways to the Oilers.

At any rate, I like Garth Snow as a GM. That's him on the left getting a serious perv on with some young women. How can you not like the guy? Next time you have an "if I were a GM ..." moment, you should think about this snapshot and set your priorities straight.

He has a degree in Business from Maine University, and a masters degree in Education Administration from the same school. His claims to fame so far are his bizarre hiring and his brilliant contract with Rick DiPietro. And he's just as full of bull as the rest of the GMs in this league. He recently told us that the Islanders, Coliseum can't attract star players.
"It's not Long Island in general, everyone knows it's a beautiful area," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "A lot of it has to do with our building. That's a big obstacle."

The Islanders offered Ryan Smyth more money than the Avalanche did, and that didn't help. The Islanders offered a few big players more money than they ultimately signed for elsewhere. Although Snow wouldn't name names, you might take a wild guess. If a player has his choice between the Garden and Nassau Coliseum, which is he going to pick?

This is going to be a problem for the Islanders until they get through the red tape and build a refurbished Coliseum, or until they build a team so good that players won't care what the rink looks like. Lots of luck
So at least he had the good sense to avoid shitting on the community in which he works. Let's hope that Kevin Lowe and the EIG follow his example on this in the future. This was perceived as an excuse for cheapness wrapped in more of Wang's endless lobby for public money for a new arena on Long Island. Islander fans, normally an irrationally optimistic bunch, well they went apeshit.

There is a strong group of hard core hockey fans on Long Island and environs. The beat writer for local paper Newsday, Greg Logan, he writes a very good blog that (he tells us) gets a huge number of hits, and it's not uncommon for there to be hundreds of replies to a post there. Logan became the lightning rod for a lot of fan anger over this, and you have to credit the guy for being open to criticism from his readers. He seemed to take it personally. And it lead to a blog entry entitled Is it the Coliseum or the GM? in which he brings in yet another possibility beyond the Coliseum and Snow:
As one prominent agent said to me, Smyth wasn’t the kind of person who figured to be comfortable in the New York area. Denver’s a whole lot more like Edmonton than Long Island is.
So New York just isn't Edmontonish enough? Hrmmm.

Now the Islanders won't be close to being a cap team this year, something that seems lost on their many internet fans at HF and Isles Mania, bless 'em. Garth Snow went hard at Smyth and Hannan, and missed on both. But you have to give credit to Isles management for sticking to their plan. It looks like they low balled offers to Viktor Kozlov and Jason Blake, and were low on term and dollars to Tom Poti as well. You have to mark a little easier on that last one though, McPhee rolled out a wheelbarrow of cash to Poti.

The fans were growing angrier and angrier, much worse even than Edmonton at the same time. Snow issued a statement saying that, in effect, he wouldn't be doing anything rash. He said that if the right player wasn't available, they'd wait. It takes stones to do that, and it didn't go over well with a very pissed off fan base. So Mike Bossy (who looks about 97 years old now, by the way) issued a plea for patience. Which was damn strange, but did seem to have at least a bit of an effect anyways.

They've made some curious deals since. Including a minor one that sent the Oilers back their own 3rd round pick, which Lowe would later use to acquire Dustin Penner. Fedotenko was a terrific pickup I thought, like Black Dog I was hoping he'd end up an Oiler. Then Guerin and Comrie, the former only agreeing to sign on the dotted line when they confirmed that they were willing to spend and bring in more offense (in this case, wee Mikey). That move alone shows you how much faith the players have in this organization. I mean do you really think Guerin would even think to make the same request to Colorado or Philadelphia? And at the press conference to announce his signing they named him team captain. Guerin seemed genuinely surprised.

Trent Hunter, who is just a terrific hockey player, went to arbitration today. It's an interesting story in and of itself, but more interesting is the story that this punted from the front page of the Isles official website, celebrating an appearance by ice girls Dina, Monica & Chanel on Maxim radio. I'm not sure why these girls are hanging out on some tarmac behind an industrial building, but I'm sure they have their reasons. Of course I went straight to a fan board to get the scoop. Obviously there is a tonne of commentary on the subject, I picked a couple of representative posts for you:

Richie Daggers Crime "Most of these girl's haircuts scream Long Island"

GlueleG "I like the one squatting on the far left"

Me too, GlueleG. Me too.

The website is much improved with the new format that the NHL has standardized on. Unfortunately they seem to have wiped out the player blog. That was a cool thing, even though it would get ignored for days at a time, there was some fascinating insight into the coach and a few of the players.

They seem to be big into the intarweb thingy. They have a box at the Coliseum that will be set aside for bloggers next year. Damn, do they ever pump Mirtle's tires in that linked page. Strange, because they've ripped the Toronto media pretty severely recently. most memorably was, I think, during the live blogging thing they did for the draft. One of them (Botti or Snow?) pretty much came out and said that TSN in general, and Dreger in particular, were in The Leafs pocket. Really ballsy stuff, and probably true, and surely he can't expect to get any love from them now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it stemmed from TSN running a story about Snow trading Smyth's negotiation rights to the Leafs. Snow claims that he denied it categorically, but Dreger ran the story anyways. Which worked well for the Leafs because they could build some public momentum while letting Smyth know they were interested, all without risking tampering charges.

And Nolan is just about the most interesting coach in the game right now. Charles Wang is one hell of a character as well. Most importantly, the team plays a good style of game. An uptempo, Keenan type game. The East has a lot of fun teams, there is just generally a lot of terrific hockey played out there.

If I was a player I would have some real concerns about playing on Long Island. Mostly because I'm not convinced that they really intend to ever be a cap team. And also because there does seem to be a lot of drama around this organization. But as a fan, it's a cool choice as a second team to follow.


Blogger Black Dog said...

Vic - glad to see you back in the swing, even if just for this moment

Enjoyable read.

I like what the Islanders did and a lot of me wishes that the Oilers had done the same - big one year and two year deals until they right the ship. I guess the counter argument that many are making is that franchises like the Oilers and Isles have to counteract that impression that nobody wants to play there. I posted back in the spring on that myth, which EIG tried to capitalize on. In the last two years a whole pile of players have signed with the Oilers and others like Smyth, Dvorak and LeGG, wanted to.

Makes me think that arguing that they had to sign Souray to show that they could attract the big names is a lot of bunk.

Always have been a big Nolan fan - he is from my neck of the woods or close enough and I used to see the Greyhounds when they came to town. They played the same style as the Sabres did and the Isles do. Fun to watch. He has his work cut out for him again this season but I would never bet against him.

8/04/2007 5:37 am  
Blogger James Mirtle said...

I honestly don't have much faith in the Isles next season (other than Nolan, who proved last season he's still one of the best coaches out there).

Guerin and Comrie on the top line? Diddly for upgrades on defence?

I don't think that's a playoff team, even in the Eastern Conference.

And, yeah, I've been thinking about taking them up on their offer to check out The Blog Box. I figure it'd make an interesting series...

8/04/2007 10:37 am  
Blogger PDO said...

Mirtle, that's the point though.

Are the Islanders an instant playoff team? Absolutely not, but they added a lot of assets that they can now deal off at the deadline for younger assets.

It's very similar to what St. Louis did last year.

And having guys like Guerin there will help shelter the kids as well, and it can't be stated enough how important that is.

8/04/2007 1:35 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Yeah, Ray Whitney is another guy that wanted to play for the Oilers when he was a UFA a couple of years ago. Granted that was just after they had acquired Pronger and Peca, so I imagine that a lot of players were interested.

Still, according to Bryn Griffiths, the Oilers weren't even interested in talking to his agent.

Still on this vein ... I read a piece on sidearm delivery, translated from Russian just before the draft. Cherepanov's agent said that the two places they were hoping to go the most were Edmonton and Phoenix. (granted they were probably expecting to be drafted in the top ten at that point). Cherepanov also said that he planned to play one more year in the RSL, and if he had developed enough he would come over to the NHL (his team, Yaroslavl? Omsk? can't remember, would expect to be compensated, I think he has a two or three year contract with them, and that won't come cheap).

I don't have an opinion on the player. Maybe he's the next Fedorov or maybe he's the next Brendl, I don't know.

Still, if the tables had been turned, if Cherepanov's reps had panned Edmonton as a destination, as they did a couple of other towns ... I have a gut feeling that the Oilers would have brought it to our attention, don't you? :D

On the other hand, it's probably better than the Isles game of blaming it on the arena. It's always just bureaucratic red tape (which is tightly wrapping $300 million in public money) holding those brave Islanders back. Grabia's head would explode if he were a Isle fan.

Ah well, one way or the other it's all part of the game I guess. I hope that Katz buys this team and all this soul fuckery stops. We'll see.

8/04/2007 9:39 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Yeah, the D looks really, really thin to me as well. A fan on one of the Isles boards ran into Snow at a gas station and he said they were going to add a D man. Charles Wang said the same to another fan in a mall, so maybe it's true.

Markov has been rumoured for ages, and it would be a really good fit. They need another solid veteran as well, those three young D they have are terrifying. Hannan or Sarich would have been favourite, but they're gone of course. That Aaron Johnson guy they picked up from CBJ has impressive 5on5 stats all around, but he was just playing on the bottom pairing in Columbus so I can't imagine he's going to be much help. For the life of me I can't remember him playing either.

Up front with that team it's not so much about the high end guys as the lack of weak links. When they're going well they come in waves, and the depth forwards and bottom D pairs of the other team are vulnerable. They should be okay, a strong LW with some scoring ability would help, though I doubt that's coming.

The playoffs seem to be a bit of a stretch at first blush, but if they fix the D then that team will be a bitch to play against at 5v5. PP might let them down though. Still, with DiPietro in net I wouldn't bet against them making the 'offs.

8/04/2007 9:56 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Yeah, there's a way out for sure. I mean ideally things go better, but they are thin enough that a few injuries could kill them early, as happend to STL last season.

As you say, if that happens then Plan B is pretty obvious.

8/04/2007 9:58 pm  

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