The New York Islanders are in a state of turmoil right now as a franchise. The team is doing awful, the arena is falling apart, and no one is going to the games. With these ten "gifts" things could turn around for the Islanders in just a few years and the team could go from the laughing-stock of the NHL to a contender.
This has less two do with the actual coverage and more to do with where it is. The Islanders actually have good announcers (Howie Rose) and a great beat writer (Katie Strang). The problem is more with the fact that many of the Islanders games are not even in HD because they are on MSG+2 or some ridiculous combination like that. The Islanders are also a professional franchise, that is having its games broadcast on a college radio station. Although the Hofstra station does a solid job, this is embarrassing for a professional sports team.
The Islanders have been hit with the injury bug this year, with crucial injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo. The Islanders have also lost a variety of other players including Trent Hunter, and it is getting to that time of year again when Rick DiPietro is having knee problems again. The Islanders need a healthy team on the ice if they want any chance of winning, and this year they have failed to produce that.
Nassau Coliseum is the second oldest building in the NHL right now, and is possibly the worst place to see a hockey game. The Islanders also have a bad deal in which they make very little money off of ticket sales. Plans for a beautiful complex, know as the Lighthouse Project, have been blockaded by the Town of Hempstead. If the Islanders want to make hockey important on Long Island, they need to get out of this building and into a brand new one.
The Islanders are in a situation this year where the best thing that could come out of it is getting the number one pick in next years NHL Draft. I look at the Islanders much like I look at the Washington Nationals, a team that needs to build from the bottom up. This season is a lost cause, and it would only hurt the Islanders to not have first choice in next years draft.
The Islanders need people to go to the games if they want to create some sort of buzz around the team. Obviously if they are not winning people are not going to go, so this ties into a few other "gifts" fans should want. The Islanders have basically been trying to give tickets away lately, and even that has not been working. It will not be until the arena is full again that the Islanders will attract top talent.
Jack Capuano has taken things from bad to worse since he has taken over the Islanders, and should not be the coach come next season. Obviously he was put in a tough position and he is not really to blame, but this is less about him and more about the fact that in order to get a buzz around the team the Islanders need a big name coach. Who this will be, I honestly have no idea, but they need to find someone who not only is a good coach, but will draw crowds and players too.
Many Islanders fans are saying that Snow has got to go, and I can't find a reason not to agree with them. Similar to Capuano he is dealing with a slight handcuff, with the fact that he can only spend so much, but it seems he has made bad contract after bad contract. It was always a question as to why Snow got the job in the first place, as being a goalie in the NHL is not exactly the perfect qualification. The Islanders need a more business savvy GM to start making starter contract decisions.
Charles Wang, the current owner of the team, has spent countless amounts of his own money to help pay for this team, and it is time for both him and the team to give up on this investment. Similar to the Coyotes, the Islanders need a new owner, and maybe someone who is more hands on. Most Islanders fans would probably love a owner similar to Mark Cuban or Ted Leonsis.
Plain and simple the Islanders roster is weak with NHL talent. Fans are complaining that they are putting out a minor league team, and some nights that is very much the case. The young pieces are in place for the Islanders, with John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and Nino Niederreiter. Now the Islanders need to go out and get some really talented players. The problem with this is that until the team fixes a lot of its other problems, no free agent is going to want to come to a half full arena on Long Island.
Although this counters the point earlier about the number one pick, the biggest gift the Islanders could give their fans for the holidays is a few wins. It is very difficult to watch a team lose day-in and day-out, and it is costing the Islanders fans. The Islanders have a good chance to get another win in 2010 against the Devils on Thursday, and that would be a great early Christmas gift.
Follow me on Twitter @cleyden for more Isles news. Be sure to check out my new Islanders based blog coming soon.