Dave Lozo's Bag Skate: Should We Kick the New York Islanders out of the NHL?

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterMarch 6, 2014

The ecosystem of a quality, highly competitive fantasy league can be quite fragile. All it takes is one owner, one team to upset the balance. This can happen when the owner either neglects his or her roster or arrives at the draft unprepared or trades all of his or her best players to a friend for 20 cents on the dollar.

All it takes is one owner who doesn't know what he or she is doing to ruin the league for everyone else.

When that ineptitude takes place over a long enough timeline, the league's commissioner will let that owner know during the offseason that he or she is not welcome back the following season. It's an awkward situation for sure, a mix of being fired and broken up with, but it's always for the betterment of the league.

That's how you wind up with Billy Joel's Bloop Singles ruining the league.

In the National Hockey League, that team is the New York Islanders. That owner is Charles Wang. That manager is Garth Snow.

New York Islanders Since 2006-07
SeasonRecordResultPayroll rank
2006-0740-30-12Lost in conference quartersN/A
2007-0835-38-9Missed playoffs20th
2008-0926-47-9Missed playoffs30th
2009-1034-37-11Missed playoffs30th
2010-1130-39-13Missed playoffs30th
2011-1234-37-11Missed playoffs30th
201324-17-7Lost in conference quarters28th
2013-1424-32-8Will miss playoffs29th
NHL.com, Capgeek.com

On July 18, 2006, Snow retired from Billy Joel's Blo…I mean, the Islanders and was named general manager of the team. It's the type of panic move every fantasy league has to make at least once, when a new season is approaching and you need a 12th owner for your 12-team league. You wind up asking your sister-in-law's husband who has never competed in a fantasy league in his life, but he's standing right there while you're talking about the opening, so you give it to him out of guilt.

Consider this track record, and ask yourself if you'd allow Snow and Wang to own a team in your fantasy league.

• The Islanders have reached postseason twice in eight seasons and only once during an 82-game season with Wang/Snow running things. That's not necessarily a bad thing in a fantasy league, because that's one fewer team you have to worry about. There's nothing wrong with a 25 percent success rate in a fantasy league; it's better than what I'm batting.

But there's a difference between dead weight in a fantasy league and a team that puts forth an earnest effort and can't find success. The Islanders are dead weight.

• The Islanders refuse to spend money. No team has spent less than the Islanders since 2008-09, according to Capgeek. If you can't afford the league, you shouldn't play in it. They've done some comically innovative things to stay above the salary-cap floor besides keeping the checkbook closed, like trading for a retired Tim Thomas or a player like Lubomir Visnovsky, who makes less money than his cap hit.

A Rotisserie league is a baseball league that works with an auction draft. If you want Miguel Cabrera, you have to pay $50 or more for him out of your $260 payroll. Transactions throughout the season cost money as well. If Snow/Wang were running Billy Joel's Bloop Singles in your baseball league and they spent the minimum $23 for 23 roster players and never made transactions, they'd get the boot from your league after one season.

Yet the Islanders continue plugging along with a smoke-and-mirrors approach to being competitive. If they didn't happen upon John Tavares with the first pick in 2009, they'd probably have "E" from Entourage playing first-line minutes in an effort to get fans in the building.

• Now the Islanders can't even make season-ending tank trades properly. Thomas Vanek for a second-round pick and a prospect? And the second-round pick is conditional on the Canadiens making the playoffs with Vanek? That's the best Snow said he could do, for the market for rental players wasn't very good.

The corpse of Marian Gaborik, which is held together by tape and gum, fetched a second- and third-round pick along with Matt Frattin from the Kings. Lee freaking Stempniak and Andrej freaking Meszaros were both worth third-round picks. Matt Moulson, the guy the Islanders traded for Vanek in October, was worth two second-rounders.

Was that really the best Snow could do for Vanek, who is younger and more productive than Gaborik, or did he turn down a half-dozen better offers in the days leading to the deadline thinking something better was coming along, only to settle on what the Habs were offering because the market had gone dry?

Either way, this is a typical move from the bumbling fantasy owner that always gets him kicked out of the league. Trading an outstanding player for nothing to one of your rivals for a playoff spot destroys the competitive balance. If you have an owner who doesn't know what he or she is doing when it comes to the trade market, it's a league killer. 

Has Billy Joel's Bloop Singles done some good things during its time in the league? You bet. They got Moulson on the cheap (then did what they did with him this season), claimed Michael Grabner off waivers and, uh, you know, always showed up on time for the draft and pitched in for pizza and sodas? 

Knowing Billy Joel's Bloops Singles, they probably brought Diet Shasta and a carry-out deal from Domino's in order to save money. They also probably kept track of the number of slices everyone ate and requested to chip in less money because they only had once slice and half a can of Shasta.

We've reached the point where having the sister-in-law's husband in the league has become awkward because the sister-in-law has divorced the guy in your league, so he no longer has ties to the league. It's time the commissioner sat down with Wang/Snow and said, "Hey guys, look, it's been almost eight years and the other guys don't want you in the league anymore. We want someone in the league who, you know, tries, and knows what they are doing."

If you wouldn't stand for this in a fantasy league, there's no way this should be a thing in a professional sports league. 



(If you’d like to ask a question for the weekly mailbag, you can reach me via email at dave111177@gmail.com, fire your query at me via Twitter at @DaveLozo or leave a question in the comments section for next week.)


@DaveLozo is Montreal a legit contender now? Top 3 in East? Canada's team? #HabsBest

— Rob (@goody705) March 6, 2014

To me, there's one top team in the East—Boston—and the rest of it is a mix between that juice that leaks out of a garbage bag and that dirt clump you can't get off your shoe after a day in the park.

The Habs have a difference-making goalie in Carey Price, and the addition of Vanek should go a long way toward boosting a middling offense. Vanek has 30 goals and 61 points in 53 career games against the Bruins. The East is weak enough where anyone can win three rounds in the spring.

Of course, all that is moot if coach Michel Therrien continues to play Douglas Murray between 17 and 20 minutes per night. That's like dousing yourself in gasoline and entering a match-lightning competition.

The key for the Canadiens is getting past Boston in the second round. I'd like Montreal in Round 1 against either Tampa Bay, Toronto or Detroit, so if the Habs can slay the Bruins, there's nothing that says they can't reach the Stanley Cup Final (*voice trails off*), where they will be slaughtered by a Western Conference team.


@DaveLozo Who are your dark horses in both conferences? Any team that can be like the 8th seed 2012 Kings? (maybe not that dominant though)

— Brady MacIsaac (@BradyMac96) March 6, 2014

In the East, I lean toward the Blue Jackets. They're sitting in eighth now, so they'd draw the Penguins in Round 1 if the playoffs started today. I'd throw a few bucks down on the Jackets because they're fast and have a goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky who can outplay the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury for two weeks.

If the Jackets draw the Bruins in the first round, I take this all back.

The West is a little tougher for envisioning a No. 6, 7 or 8 seed making a deep run. I would have hitched my wagon to the Wild if they acquired Jaroslav Halak, but the thought of Ilya Bryzgalov backstopping a team to the finals seems ludicrous. 

I just don't see anyone breaking through the five-team wall of Anaheim, Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose and Los Angeles.



What do the Devils gain in acquiring a 31-year-old Tuomo Ruutu who is making $5 million a year and has not scored more than 20 since 2008-09? I'm finding it hard to believe that Lou actually thinks that Ruutu was the missing piece, and that acquiring him makes the Devils a playoff contender. Can you shed some insight onto a questionable deal?


I admit, this is a tough one to figure. Andrei Loktionov wasn't bringing much to the table, but the same can be said for Tuomo Ruutu, who comes with a burdensome contract. The Devils are the fourth-best team in terms of goals allowed per game, but they needed help offensively despite great possession numbers.

Ruutu has one goal in his past 30 games, so he's not exactly an upgrade on Loktionov.

He's tough and physical. He has big-game experience, both with the Hurricanes and internationally with Finland. If he is over his hip issues, he could help.

Yeah, it's a tough deal to get behind. Have faith in Lou. He rarely steers you wrong.


@DaveLozo would you rather switch lives with Cap'n Crunch or the old school Kraft Mac n Cheese Dino for 1 week?

— Guy Pancake (@whooleythecat) March 5, 2014

There are pros and cons to each life. Being a captain on the high seas likely involves pillaging and plundering, and that always sounds like fun. There's probably rum involved as well, and I'll never turn down rum.

But if I had to eat Cap'n Crunch for a week, I'd probably die from blood loss because of all the cuts to the roof of my mouth.

I'd rather be a dinosaur and eat mac and cheese for a week.


@DaveLozo How does Mike Gillis continue as GM of the Canucks after being effectively neutered by Acquilini? #BagSkate

— big_dl (@big_dl) March 5, 2014

Well, he probably doesn't continue. For those of you who don't know, Francesco Aquilini is the owner of the Canucks, and according to reports, he nixed a potential deal that would have sent Ryan Kesler to the Penguins. It seems strange, as the Canucks showed they were ready to embark on a rebuild by trading Roberto Luongo over the weekend.

Gillis' time in Vancouver appears to be short. General managers who turn two starting goaltenders into two prospects and a bottom-six center don't tend to keep their jobs. 

There will probably be a change in the front office after the season, and the new person will make the final decision on the future of Kesler.


@DaveLozo Thoughts on the Bruins deadline, and what's to come for them?

— Curtis Baker (@bake_14) March 6, 2014

Adding Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter for depth on defense were fine moves. The Bruins are the class of the East and a Stanley Cup contender, so there's no reason to shake things up. Peter Chiarelli made his splash over the summer with the Tyler Seguin deal, and there was no need to make another splash Wednesday.

They are literally the only team in the East with a shot at the Stanley Cup this season.


Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveLozo.


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