As the Islanders play out their last few games of the season, the talk of the town seems to have turned to the men in charge. Losing seasons always make all eyes turn to the easiest target: the Coach. Personally, I don’t really understand that philosophy, but it is the one that rules the sport.
However, if you look at what Ted Nolan had to work with, I don’t see how anyone can seriously blame him for the Islanders early playoff elimination this season. Certainly playoffs and a shot at the Cup is EVERY team’s greatest goal, as that is where the ‘real’ money is, but you need to have the tools to get there. Some of Ted’s ‘tools’ never made it out of the shed, and too many others made early trips to the shop for repair. Yet, he stayed calm and did his best. If hockey is a game of chemistry, how do you blame a coach for losing with a team that hardly knew each others names?
When Nolan came to the Island he was immediately accepted by the fan base. That was obvious by the length of his line at the STH event at the park. One by one the subscribers shook his hand, talked to him about the team, and took pictures. One by one, they walked away happy. Ted Nolan brought a certain amount of respect back to the Island even while the media was making them out to be a laughing stock. Ted was a beacon of legitimacy. He still is.
The two years he has coached this team, the media has talked of his ability to take teams that everyone believed would finish at the bottom and somehow make them rise above their own abilities. That’s what Ted does. He gets the most out of what he has. Can you imagine what he’d do if he actually had something to work with? Had this team stayed healthy, and continued the way they started the season, I think they would have been at least 6th in the East and that would have been a monumental accomplishment. But the injuries this team endured was like a plague of locusts that just swept over the Coliseum. During the last few games, we just have to cross our fingers and hope no one else is taken off the ice on a stretcher. (I held my breath last night as Kyle Okposo went down like a rock when he was hit in the back of the leg on an early shift.)
I think Mr. Wang should give Ted at LEAST two more years, three if he sees fit. Also, give him not just his ‘bionic’ goalie with two new hips, but some legitimate goal scorer to work with. Then I believe he’ll show everyone that talk of him winning the Jack Adams trophy once again isn’t just talk, it’s a real possibility.
Now, onto Garth Snow, our ‘rookie’ GM. I had a dream last night that there was snow INSIDE the Coliseum. I woke up at 5:30 am thinking that was a sign that I should write this. (or I shouldn't have had ice cream before bed, one or the other) But, I’m going to lobby for HIS contract extension as well. Why, you ask?
I think Garth Snow has proved himself worthy in this short time. He is young enough and close enough to his playing days to know what the teams, and the game in general, need. I believe (I have to check) that he’s the youngest GM in the league and that brings a different mind set. He’s learned a lot in his short time as GM, and he can only get better. He spoke of his first few days on the job when the other GM’s were licking their chops thinking they could ‘pick his pockets’ because he was an easy mark. They were wrong. He’s very intelligent and engaging, but he’s also strong willed. I may not have always agreed with his decisions, but I respect them and I know what he does, he does in the best interest of the team.
IF Garth Snow is NOT given another term as GM of the Islanders it will only lead the talk of the town to be “See? Wang was WRONG!” NO! I don’t want to hear that. Please! Mike Milbury, the most ineffective GM in the entire NHL (but a really nice guy) seemed to have a job for life until HE actually said “I quit.” He couldn’t even walk the halls of the coliseum without a security contingent; he was so hated by the Islander faithful.
And PLEASE, no Neil Smith argument. If he was such a great GM, how come the only job he could get is as TV analyst? Or is that where all the bad General Managers find work? Hell, both Milbury and Ferguson found work in front of the cameras. I guess that’s the proper progression of events.
I say GIVE GARTH A CHANCE! One stint as GM is not enough to determine true effectiveness. We have something very special brewing on Long Island, but it will take time. I think Snow should be given the time to reap the rewards after having to live through the agony of that first year. He deserves it.
Contract extensions for both of them, I say! But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure this is something that we’ll all be talking about untill we’re blue in the face all summer long until we actually hear from the man at the top. But if he’s listening, even though this year wasn’t what everyone wanted, I hope he’s got enough faith in these two ‘members of the committee’ to keep them around.
After all… shouldn’t they be here when the Lighthouse opens? Wouldn’t they deserve that? I think so. How about you?