Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
There are many questions concerning the New York Islanders these days, from network and local media, ownership, management, players and, most loudly, fans. And almost all those questions are justified. But there is only one small problem -- nobody seems to have any answers.
Yesterday, general manager Garth Snow held a meeting with season ticket holders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. After making some canned remarks about having belief in the players still possessing plenty of fight, Chris Botta on Twitter remarked, "No real talk. No anger. No 'I screwed up and have to fix this.' No leadership. Just self-serving spin."
Snow has never been known to make any of his thoughts public through any discussion outside of his inner circle, whether that be media or the hard working season-ticket holders that keep this franchise from crumbling at his feet. As real Snow as you're ever going to get would have been about a month back when he addressed reporters at Northwell Health Ice Center and proceeded to make a joke out of wasting two years of J.F Berube's career.
This summer, when Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin walked away from the only franchise they had ever known, Snow replaced only two and both have been extreme disappointments. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have combined for eight goals and nine assists in 31 games each. Nielsen was not replaced. Dennis Seidenberg was signed and has provided as much as can be expected of a 35-year-old veteran blueliner who has been through countless battles.
Snow has conspired to bury Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield in Bridgeport, placed faith in a flailing Ryan Strome (4-4-8 in 28 games) and is still, ridiculously, carrying three goaltenders at the expense of development and inflicting fatigue on an undermanned and underwhelming defense. All this, along with a struggling power play and penalty kill and .908 team save percentage (below league average of .915) have doomed the Islanders to 11 wins over their first 31 games and a division-worst home record by virtue of percentage of points earned, even though the NHL handed them 65% of their first 31 in Brooklyn.
Head coach Jack Capuano leads the group of underachievers and has simply no answers to what ails his team, proclaiming over the past week about where skill has gone and promising accountability for those who do not play the 'Islander way'. Of course, since that speech after a 4-2 loss to Washington, there has been zero of the accountability Capuano spoke of, only more of the same. Beauvillier for Quine, Quine for Beauvillier. Ladd was given exactly one preseason game and short of two weeks to develop chemistry with captain John Tavares. He has not seen his wing since, and will not anytime soon.
Jack has left us now with such quotes as "The third goal was a huge goal for them (in a 6-2 loss)" and "You can look at the stats anyway you want to - at the end of the day, we didn't score".
Capuano does not see fragility in the locker room, even though it sure doesn't feel that way if you visit it. "I don't think it's fragile at all right now. Look at our record, look at where we are in the standings, we need to win hockey games. Right now, we're going through a tough stretch and that's that."
Snow and Capuano deserve some credit for the Islanders back-to-back 100-point seasons, playoff appearances and playoff round victory. But, using the same measuring stick, they also deserve blame for where the Islanders find themselves right now. The issue for Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin moving forward is do they think those two men can fix it? I would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they can.
Trades are possible, sure. But none that are going to turn the Islanders into a sudden juggernaut that can leap over eight or nine teams in the standings. It's more likely that prior to hiring a team president to oversee Snow and all hockey operations, he is allowed to send contracts away prior to the trade deadline and expansion draft, where New York will more than likely lose one of their defenseman, guesses being either Calvin de Haan or Thomas Hickey.
You also need to get some assurances next summer from captain Tavares as to where he stands in terms of signing a contract extension to remain with the organization. In professional sports, not just hockey, there is always a chance a player leaves. Always. There are zero guarantees. If you talk to the captain and can't be 100% sure something can get done, you have to consider moving him before he is lost for nothing. I believe the Islanders are, when all are playing to their talents and skill level, a real good hockey team with Tavares. I also don't think they crumble without him, as long as the requisite assets are obtained in return.
Listening to Tavares last night, even he is at a loss for answers right now. "There's not much to say. We lost. We didn't win. Can break it down all we want, there is no result."
He is exactly right. There have been no results. Short of a 5-0-1 streak that, at this point, looks to be the result of smoke and mirrors rather than a true turnaround, all New York is left searching for are answers. Answers nobody seems to be able to provide.