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The "Drive for Five" Needs a New Driver

By Danny Radical

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Time for the biannual "Garth Snow sucks" piece. And the thing about this is, it's been happening for a long, long time. Because somehow, Garth Snow has been employed for a long, long time. How long? Here's an excerpt from our 2013 blog:

"Well, we do know that when it comes to acquiring a player, Garth Snow really isn’t much of a player. Lubomir Visnovsky’s NTC debacle is a great example of a Garth Snow style trade- give me an old man with an expiring contract that is a salary dump from a team looking to make cap space, just so long as his salary is below his cap hit, and expect nothing from our roster in return. Snow’s major moves do not involve imports or exports of the “core,” whatever that means to a barely playoff team, so don’t expect a trade..."

For the record, Snow let 50% of the core leave as free agents without a trade.

Here's another post from 2015:

"Anyone watching the playoffs saw how hard Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy worked. Even with players like Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock, or even Scott Mayfield in the pipeline, there is a glaring need for an experienced top 4 defenseman to go along with the Islanders present top pair and the oft injured Travis Hamonic. What about our other top 4 guy? The oft injured Calvin deHaan would be a 7 or 8th defenseman on a successful team. That he is a 4th on the Islanders shows why they're watching round two on TV."

Do you know how many General Managers in the National Hockey League have been fired since 2013? 26. Men that won Stanley Cups- multiple in one case- have been shown the door? But Snow? The winner of one playoff series in over a decade? Teflon.

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Wondering why? Because incompetence is rewarded in the Islanders organization.

The Islanders recently had a night to create awareness for Barth Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that mostly affects boys. However, on a nightly basis Islanders fans suffer from Garth Syndrome, a self inflicted disorder where you do as little work as possible, have subpar success, and remove both expectations and accountability from the brain.

Look at these shining examples of Islanders buffoonery, specifically in the Garth Snow era:

- The hiring of Scott Gordon. OVERSPEED! Gordon went from the head coach of the Bruins AHL team to the head coach of an NHL team to the assistant coach of an NHL team to head coach of an AHL team. The last time he was a head coach? 2011 IIHF World Championship, where he led the American team to a disappointing 8th place finish. After that, Team USA cut ties with him. Gordon did not have any prior NHL experience as a coach, and his playing experience for the Quebec Nordiques consisted of 18 games in goal, where he went 2-16-0. Atrocious.

This may be fake LOL

- The hiring of Jack Capuano. GRINDAH! After totaling 6 games of NHL experience for four organizations, including the Islanders, he tried his hand at coaching. Starting in the ECHL as a coach, Capuano was promoted to General Manager where he promptly ran the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks out of business. The Islanders quickly pounced on this hot prospect and made him an NHL assistant coach, learning under the tutelage of highly animated Islanders coach Steve Stirling. After being made head coach of the Islanders AHL team, where he managed to develop no prospects of impact, Capuano was hired to replace Gordon and the OVERSPEED system with Capuano's own style- UNDERWHELM. During Capuano's tenure the Islanders managed to win 227 out of 483 games- making him the second winningest coach in Islanders history. His one distinction? Winning the only playoff series for an Islanders coach not named Arbour.

- The hiring of Doug Weight- People say that Weight had a storied career, and I guess that's true because you have to make up stories of his greatness. Weights career breaks into two halves- from 1991- 2001 he was an effective player. In three of those seasons, Weight averaged a point per game including a 102 point season in 95-96. He earned a World Cup gold medal. He helped the Rangers win a Stanley Cup in 1994 by being used to acquire players from the old Edmonton dynasty.

But from 2002-2011? Weight was a bottom 6 forward, including 107 games with the Islanders where he potted a whopping 12 goals. Weight's second half highlights included some excellent play for the Frankfurt Lions, one solid postseason for the St Louis Blues, and a Stanley Cup with Carolina*. Why the *? Because Weight was injured in game 5 of the finals that year, and missed that game plus two more as Carolina hoisted the Cup. It's true he was having a solid postseason up to that point, but the cup win itself had little to do with him as the series went 7 games. Weight only saw playoffs one time after that- as a rental- in a disappointing 5 game series defeat for the Anaheim Ducks.

Weight is the 5th highest scoring American player of all time. Generally, no one cares who comes in fifth. However, this honor foreshadowed the coaching philosophy of Doug Weight.

In his audition as interim coach, Weight replaced Capuano's stifling and predictable system and just let players skate and shoot. The result? The team missed the playoffs. #IslesKoolAid will say "Well, it was just by one point." That's true, but at one point the Islanders were holding a playoff spot, so Weights team gave that playoff spot away- doesn't matter if that's by one point or a million points.

That underperforming effort got Weight rewarded with the head coaching duties the next season, where he hired some buddies from his playing days as coaches and introduced his philosophy- POND HOCKEY! Predictably, as of the time of writing, the Isles are the second highest scoring offense yet have a negative goal differential and are sitting outside of a playoff position.

All three men hat Snow hired as head coaches have two things in common- none of them had ever been an NHL head coach before the Islanders tapped them for the job, and no other organization had ever offered these guys a head coaching job.

I spent more time with Weight because he's really been disappointing. Understand that Garth Snow had NO coaching search when he fired Capuano. He decided in season- a season in which the Islanders blew a playoff spot- that Weight was the guy for the job. If there was a search, apparently it took place in the men's room at Eisenhower Park.

John Tavares had publicly said that he wants to win, and wants an organization to show that they're willing to take the necessary steps to win. How has Snow fulfilled its request?

To start, Snow announced that he will not make trades involving picks to improve this team, because INJURIES are "100%" of the reason that the Islanders are not in first place. Clearly we all misjudged the impact of Nikolai Kulemin, and Snow misjudged the value of Calvin DeHaan- of whom he offered a pay cut after last season.

https://www.lighthousehockey.com/2017/8/2/16083096/calvin-de-haan-new-york-islanders-arbitration-contract

You can also look at the poor drafting. Snow has chosen almost 80 players in the draft since his first draft class in 2007. 2007. Snow has been drafting since 2007. Think about that. Lets look at his impact picks:

Defender with the greatest impact? Jared Spurgeon, who Snow drafted but did not offer a contract to. He's having a fine career in Minnesota, where he's averaging over 30 points a year for the last 3 seasons, including 28 in 45 games this year. Snow did mention that injuries to Devon Toews hurt the Islanders this year, which is strange considering Toews has never played a single game in the NHL, and was cut during training camp.

Goalie with the greatest impact? None whatsoever. Highly touted Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin came to rookie camp, looked at the prospects in the organization, and returned to Russia to sign a 3 year extension.

https://eyesonisles.com/2017/07/03/new-york-islanders-prospect-ilya-sorokin-extends-russian-contract/

Forward with the greatest impact? John Tavares. A consensus #1 pick, it's shocking that Snow didn't botch that call at first overall. And surely the goal mouth presence of Anders Lee is appreciated by the team, but it's not too often when you guess right in the 6th round. In fact, it's Snow's ONLY non-first round impact player in the entire organization. An organization that has also botched multiple first round lottery picks.

How about free agency? Andrew Ladd was given $5.5 million a year for 7 years, which was about fair value in the market based on his stats. What is perplexing about the deal is the no movement clause Snow handed him, as Ladd is 1) a frequently traded player and 2) full of mileage already. In the first year of his deal Ladd put up 31 points, and is on pace for about the same total this year. This was supposed to be a first line winger for JT, and as of now it's not even third line production. With 5 more years to go.

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Also, that's it for free agents. Snow likes to do as little work as possible, so every signing gets a multiyear deal, and 7 year deals happen with alarming frequency. Look at the deals Snow handed out that created one of the worst defenses in the entire NHL. Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk received 7 year deals, including a NMC clause for Boychuk. No, I didn't forget Travis Hamonic, who received - go on, guess- a 7 year deal after 3 seasons in the NHL. But that was at least patience. What about Scott Mayfield? A 5 year deal came after a 41 game NHL evaluation. Adam Pelech got a 4 year deal after 54 games- his mistake was playing in a few more games than Mayfield, which cost him an extra year of contract. And with Ryan Pulock and Sebastian Aho- not the good Sebastian Aho- still on their entry level deals, well folks, theres your starting six Islander defensemen for the next 4 years: 207 goals allowed and counting.

Also, by suggesting that the Islanders resign Josh Bailey? That makes me really question if JT actually wants to win.

Snow is a true lazy disaster of a GM, and fans are starting to take notice. Twitter user George Pace (@GeorgeAPace) has started a hashtag to sum up the feelings of Islander fans based twisting a phrase Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky used to describe his organization- #WorldClassMyAss. Pace also suggested that both he and I be given a chance to interview Garth Snow and Doug Weight, where we can ask questions like:

"Do you understand that the goal of each season is to win the Stanley Cup?"

"Can you explain why you haven't learned anything after 12 years on the job?"

"Where did you learn the graceful art of bidding against yourself when you signed the Ladd, Cizikas, and Clutterbuck contracts?"

"This is a three parter- Remember when you traded a 1st round pick, a second round pick , and a prospect to Vegas to remove the bad Mikhail Grabovski contract that you signed him to? Then you said that you would not trade high draft picks or prospects to help fix holes in the 2017-18 team? Why is it that you have no guiding philosophy whatsoever?"

"In your own words, tell us why you suck so bad."

"Regarding your brilliance in disrupting both of your regular goalies with JF Berube- who you lost to expansion and is presently not in the NHL- would you call that an example of what a winning GM does?"

"Can you list all of your accomplishments in 12 years as GM that would convince ANYONE you have a clue as to how to build a cup winner?"

"How is Sebastian Collberg doing? Remember when you traded Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, and a 1st round draft pick to acquire him? We haven't heard much from him lately."

"How awful are the pictures that you have of Charles Wang?"

Look at the recent 3 game set from the Islanders. Versus Nashville, they gave a lead away with under a minute away to go and went on to lose in overtime. Then the Detroit game, where the referees bailed out the Islanders with a major penalty, only to watch the Islanders give away the lead with under a minute to go before "burying" the lottery team in overtime. Next was the Calgary game, where the Islanders gave away a lead and blew the game with minutes to go. And during this run? Snow said he wouldn't work to help the team get better by adding players who have played for a different coach this year- most likely a coach with a clue.

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Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky has said that the team has resumed the "Drive for Five" of the 1980's. Folks, when your GM has no drive, there will not be a drive. So if Ledecky is serious, he better call the NHL equivalent of Uber, because Snow is lacks a winners GPS and a work ethic to "Drive" anywhere that isn't attached to "Thru."