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What Would Garth Do?

By Danny Radical

There are people critical of the summer that the New York Islanders have had under General Manager Lou Lamoriello. We should explore that concept by asking ourselves the question that, if he took over after a non-playoff season, what would Garth do?

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Respectable Western Business Attire, amirite?

This past spring, the New York Islanders made some evolutionary moves regarding coaching and management. Not to rehash too much history, but the organization replaced a worthless GM and an overwhelmed coach with a Hall of Fame GM and a Stanley Cup winning coach. Interestingly, it’s the first time in over a decade that the GM had previous GM experience, and the first time in a decade that the head coached had NHL head coaching experience. Amazingly, it’s the second time a head coach of the Islanders came in with experience in this millennium.

To throw some praise at ownership, there aren’t a lot of Stanley Cup winning coaches available for hire. The ones that are generally aren’t in touch with the game anymore, or won because they had a good team but could not maintain the momentum and declined every year after. Yes, I’m referring to Dan Blysma on that last one.

This leads me to the Islanders fan’s quandary. They just replaced two overwhelmed incapables at their jobs with the hires of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz. To the fans known as Isles Realists, this was Christmas in June. But to #IslesKoolAid? This is Doomsday.

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Why Doomsday? Because to #IslesKoolAid Garth Snow was the master drafter, master negotiator, and mastermind behind…12 years of failure. But these turds are so used to failing that when the Islanders finally made the playoffs- only to get smoked by the Penguins in 6 games- they were orgasmic in their praise.

And of course the next season the Islanders missed the playoffs. Which was the time when Snow should absolutely have been fired.

Oh, but then the Islanders years later won a playoff series. To #IslesKoolAid this is not their Stanley Cup- this is their DYNASTY. Some Isles fans got to see five (FIVE!?!) straight finals. These kool aid guys acted the same way about a post season with FIVE WINS.

So what is the goal of the kool aid drinkers? After chugging gallons of flavors like Shitberry Snow and Washup Weight, they saw the firing of two underachievers as a betrayal. But they love the team. Yet they hate that someone may change the organizations losing ways. So #IslesKoolAId has started something completely new- they’re criticizing the new GM.

#IslesKoolAid has been very vocal in complaining about the work Lou has done this summer #Loupon. He traded for grinders. He signed grinders. Where is the skill? He lost Tavares. Snow would have kept Tavares. For sure! I’m shocked JT didn’t resign with Garth just so JT could save Garth’s job!

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I wanted to make it my business to remind both Isles Realists and #IslesKoolAid that this is just another Snowblower mythology session. Snow drafted people based on present positional need and test scores instead of doing the smart thing- taking the best player available. Conversely, what Lou is doing is formulaic. He’s done the same in New Jersey where he appeared in 5 Stanley Cup finals, winning three of them. He also took Toronto from 1st pick overall to a 105 point season in just 24 months.

Lou is inheriting a team that had just about the same point total as Snow’s first team had. How long did it take Snow to make the playoffs after a first overall pick? 4 years? 5? Do you think it will take 5 years for the Islanders to make the playoffs? Lou may be dead by then, so he’s not waiting. And for the #IslesKoolAid out there, did Garth Snow ever assemble a 105 point team? Does Garth Snow even have a 105 point IQ?

Here’s an example- #IslesKoolAid has complained that this current team has too many grinders and not enough skill. These were the same people who came in their pants over a 2010 lineup featuring Zenon Konopka, Trevor GIllies, Michael Haley, Matt Martin, and John Sim. But hey, that team had skill, too! They had John Tavares, Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau….uh….Rob Schremp? Josh Bailey? By the way- want to know how useless Bailey will be without Tavares next season? Rob Schremp had a higher point per game average than Bailey that year. Today Rob Schremp makes his living washing fucking dishes.

More career shootout goals than Josh Bailey. Played in 7000 less games.

In short, Lou is walking into a situation requiring cleaning up a mess. But that Garth Snow team? That was 4 years into a rebuild. That was his best efforts after 3 top 5 picks, and no restrictions on the salary cap, as per Garth Snow.
So when people criticize Lou for what he did- adding veteran grit and leadership- what did Garth do? He brought in grit with little to no NHL experience that helped the team reach another lottery finish, one of the EIGHT he managed to pull off in his twelve years of failure regime.

The next complaint is that Lou didn’t fix the goaltending. Some people said that Lou should have made a trade for an impact goalie right away, as it was such a big weakness on the team Garth built that Lou took over. Honestly, that’s a fair criticism of Lou. But then we have to look at what Garth would do…or actually did.

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Lou came in handcuffed with a horribly bloated contract on a backup goalie. Why anyone would think handing over $3m plus a year to a backup for MANY YEARS was a good idea is beyond me. Lou also had no starter because that guy was on an expiring contract and was becoming an unrestricted free agent. And Jaroslav Halak was leaving because at some point the answer to his issues was being sent to the AHL, something the backup missed out on. And their top prospect? At best is years away from the NHL. Also, he has autism, which is a challenge to itself without the demands of professional sports. So what did Lou do?

Acquired a starting goalie for about half of what the backup made.

The only area I will presently allow people to question Lou is on defense. He brought back much of the same defense that Snow had previously signed. However, that isn’t exactly his fault. Remember, Lou inherited Snow’s contracts to defensemen. Travis Hamonic is still on a contract Garth Snow gave him, and he was traded away 2 years ago. Scott Mayfield is on a long term contract. Nick Leddy is on a long term contract. Johnny Boychuk is on a long term contract. Adam Pelech is on a long term contract. So what did Lou do?

He gave upcoming future star Ryan Pulock a 2 year deal. A change of pace from Snow. Lou gave Pulock a very inexpensive short term contract while keeping his restricted free agent rights. Snow would never have been this smart.

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The best 24 year old "prospect" in the AHL


Snow would have handed Pulock and his 77 career games an 8 year deal at $6 million per year. Because that’s what Garth Snow does. The logic? We overpay for 4 years to underpay for 4. Except…77 career games. Why rush it? He has no concept of market value- see any contract to players with the initials CC and/or JB.

Another thing to look at is what Lou didn’t do. When Kyle Okposo left the Islanders, Garth Snow handed Andrew Ladd a contract that is indefensible. That allowed the entire NHL to offer fat contracts for close to 20 goal scorers. So what Snow did was guarantee that both Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle will seek $8 million a year in salary. Think that’s crazy? What did James Van Rymsdyk get? 7 years at $9m per? And Paul Statsny? 7 years $9m per. But Lou? $4m per for 20 goal scorer Brock Nelson.

Did Lou jump into what Garth created? No way. He’s not that short sighted.

So when people question Lou, my only thought is where was this critical eye when Garth was boss? Why be such a hypocrite? So when people say they are disappointed in Lou so far and hoped to see more, I’m going to offer up a few quick points:

- Every situation Lou inherited from Snow, he improved.

- Every time each GM was in a similar predicament, one flailed and one made shrewd decisions.

- When was the last time a Garth Snow draft was praised? When was the last time Lou offered an entire draft for one player?

- Garth Snow lost John Tavares, not Lou Lamoriello. Lou had 30 days to sign him. Garth had 6 years.

- Garth Snow traded 2 top draft picks and a prospect to protect Travis Hamonic from expansion. Then traded Travis Hamonic to recover the assets he gave up to protect Travis Hamonic.

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- Lou had a trade ready to go regarding trading two top picks for Max Pacioretty. Then realized the picks had more value and scuttled the deal.

- If Garth Snow trades Travis Hamonic for Taylor Hall, I believe John Tavares is still an Islander today.

- Under Garth Snow, no worthwhile players wanted to come to the Islanders. Under Lou, Artemi Panarin put the Islanders on his very short wish list.

- In Lou's first Islander draft, he got a player at 11 that many had listed as a top 4 talent, and a player at 10 that no one expected to be there. In Garth's many drafts, he's taken players at 5 that no one thought should be taken there, and often sees his picks are top ten talent even though no one else does.

- Remember, Garth Snow’s inherited Islander team made the playoffs. The teams he actually constructed spent about half a decade before again making the playoff..and exiting quickly.

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If any Islander fan has any issue with what Lou is doing yet had faith in Garth, then nothing I can say or do could educate that depth of stupidity. I still expect excuses however. The Wang budgets! That salary floor excuse is no excuse, as this team didn’t win shit during the Wang budget era. Snow had 4 years to play under the same rules as Lou has. Let’s see what the results are in 4 years. But on that concept, I’ll leave you with this final "What would Garth do” thought:

When there was a time to improve coaching, Lou brought in a man who just won a Stanley Cup. When it was time for Garth to improve coaching, he overlooked any coach that won a Stanley Cup- of which multiple were available and were hired by other clubs- and hired his buddies instead. What would Garth do? First he'd eat 4 or 5 meals. Then he'd cue the music.