Photo courtesy of hockeyindependent.com

Photo courtesy of hockeyindependent.com

Laughing stock, joke, league doormat, pathetic, worst organization in North American sports. New York Islanders fans have heard these words spewed at them for nearly twenty years. Some of it true, some of it not, but mostly pretty close. But the way the Thomas Vanek saga played itself out today or even the last 4 months, reassured Islanders fans that those words will continue to come their way.

In mid-October, Vanek was acquired by Garth Snow in return for John Tavares’ sidekick and close friend, Matt Moulson. Moulson was due to become an unrestricted free agent, and more than likely, was not going to sign another team friendly deal after scoring 118 goals and 223 points in his 304 games as an Islander. But to get Vanek, not only did Snow give up Moulson, he also gave up a 1st round pick in 2014 or 2015 AND a 2nd round pick in 2015. I understand you need to give up something to get something, but that was one hell of a steep price for Vanek, who also was going to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end as well.

The more I watched Vanek, the more I loved the trade. The Islanders should be done with rebuilding. The farm system is chock full of young talent and is essentially regarded as top 5 in the league. Like many other fans, I was waiting for that next move. The one that brings a legit top 4 defenseman and/or a real NHL goaltender. Because you know, that’s what the Islanders needed. Cue the Price Is Right losing horn.

Before we go any further into this disaster, let’s go back to the very second when free agency opened up this past summer. Every Islanders fan and every analyst who watched their first round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last season knew that the Isles needed to improve in two key areas. Goaltending and secondary scoring. The five best free agent goalies who were available were Mike Smith, Niklas Backstrom, Tim Thomas, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Evgeni Nabokov. Garth Snow signed Nabakov one minute after free agency opened to a 1 year contract. Literally the moment free agency started, the Islanders brass brought back the player who everyone knew needed to be upgraded. The one single position that the Isles haven’t had any stability in for nearly 10 years, and they bring back the same guy.

After Nabakov was brought back, there were rumblings that the Isles may be in position to bring in some scoring to help out Tavares and the aforementioned Moulson. After all, the Isles needed to add salary just to get to the salary cap floor. BOOM! Peter Regan and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Huh? Yes, one guy who couldn’t score in a whore house and another guy coming off various concussion related injuries. Awesome!  There were players like Nathan Horton, Valtteri Filppula, David Clarkson, Mike Ribeiro, and others who were available to put pucks in the net. But Garth and Co. were good. No need to get involved in players with pedigree.

So that’s it. Those were the unrestricted free agent signings in the summer to bolster this lineup. Snow re-signed restricted free agent and #1 defenseman Travis Hamonic to a solid 7-year, $29 million contract extension, but for some reason that no one can figure out, Snow inexplicably gave enigma Josh Bailey, also a restricted-free agent, a 5-year, $16.5 million extension 10 days later. This guy is literally the Islanders version of what Oliver Perez was that the New York Mets.

The one move that Snow did actually make this off season that I liked was getting rid of the crybaby Nino Niederreiter for the gritty and gutty Cal Clutterbuck and a 3rd round pick. He has done exactly what he was brought to the island to do. Hit people, piss people off, and occasionally put the puck in the net. The duo of him and Matt Martin have been beasts on the ice when paired together. I’ll also give him a lot of credit. He plays on the second penalty killing unit and has created a bunch of shorthanded opportunities.

Now back to your regularly scheduled debacle…As an Islander fan, front office personnel, or media member covering the Islanders, you know that there is literally no chance that a high priced free agent is signing with the Isles unless it is strictly for the money. See: Streit, Mark. The building alone probably steers 98% of the free agents away. The other 2% is the thought of having to stay at the Marriott longer than one night. While I applaud Snow for doing it the only way he thought was possible, the return on Vanek had to be more than what he wound up getting if he was unable to get him locked up long term. Trading for an elite player and giving him a feel for what it is like to skate on the wing with John Tavares is one hell of a selling point. But after you make a contract extension offer to him in the neighborhood of a reported 8-years and $60-$62 million in which he turns down, you immediately trade him. You don’t wait until March 5th at 2:59 and get garbage in return. Snow had exactly one month and one day to trade Vanek. He literally took every second to do it.

Snow’s return for a top 10 goal scorer in the league? A mediocre prospect and a conditional 2nd round pick from the Montreal Canadiens. Ladies and gentleman, let’s hear it for YOUR! NEW! YORK! IIIIIISSLLLANDERSSSSS!!!

In an article posted just a little while ago by our friends at IslandersPointBlank.com, you can read all the pathetic quotes from Garth Snow.

Just look at the picture of Snow in that article. It just tells it all. Face bloated, hair gray, looking like a beaten man. I mean after all, this is a guy who according to multiple sources, has his head coach, Jack Capuano, living in his house. That’s right, LIVING IN HIS HOUSE.

As more and more comes out about this organization, you start to realize that everything is basically run by a seven person committee. There’s no one person who makes the hockey decisions like the other 95% of the league does.  Seven different opinions always makes sense.  It’s clearly worked for Pittsburgh, Detroit, New Jersey, Chicago, etc.

Remember that issue the Islanders had with goaltending?

Michal Neuvirth of the Capitals and Jaroslav Halak of the Blues were traded for each other, Roberto Luongo of the Canucks was shipped to the Panthers for basically nothing, just like he was from the Islanders.  Tim Thomas and Dan Ellis were traded for each other, Anaheim’s Viktor Fasth was traded to the Oilers  for middle round picks, Ilya Bryzgalov was traded by the Oilers for a 4th round pick, and Ryan Miller was traded from the Sabres to the Blues. Cut the crap Garth. You and everyone else is in waaaaaay over their heads. It’s time for Charles Wang to get the Fred and Jeff Wilpon treatment from commissioner Gary Bettman. He needs to have a real GM “recommended” to him, like Sandy Alderson was recommended by commissioner Bud Selig to the owners of the New York Mets.

 

 

 

 

 

I understand when a GM is cash strapped. I really do. After all, I’m a Mets fan. But when a GM, and in this case, and entire hierarchy, is this incompetent, there comes a point when fans become disinterested and a move into the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn won’t save you.

The loss of John Tavares as the Olympics was a brutal one. But this was the “FINISH HIM!” moment. The final knockout blow to a fanbase and organization that was this close to becoming relevant again. Tavares will ready for next season, but how long will it be before he, and other players, start demanding trades?

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