IN GARTH WE TRUST? RIGHT? RIGHT???? Well…No, It’s Janksgate!

Funny thing happened in the two weeks from what was perceived by many to be an excellent draft class by Garth Snow and the NY Islanders. Notice how I type that out that we don’t list all the names like Garth Snow, Charles Wang, Ryan Jankowski, Scout A, B, C, D, etc.

Notice that when MANY people list it out, they don’t list names. But suddenly, when the Isles don’t renew a contract, all hell breaks loose in the twittersphere, blogosphere, boards, comment sections and god knows what else.

Part of the problem is the simply dunderheadedness of the NY Islander organization who should have announced they were parting ways, thanking him for his time, and with perhaps a little story or retrospective. But, no, not the Isles. Instead, they get a bit bewildered when the blogosphere, board and tweets are filled with panic. Then again, they’ve been doing everything silently for a bit now.

JANKSGATE!

Now all this said, it is a very silly panic over something like that. It’s not like they fired the guy. Hell, he didn’t storm off and head home. A contract wasn’t renewed. In hockey, this is par for the course. In business, this is typical and common.

The problem is there is this perception that the NY Islanders are cutting costs, Wang is cheap and all this other hodgepodge.

So let’s get into that a bit.

First off, though the Islanders have made many a business organization change, including trimming, the hockey ops has mostly been left alone. In fact, if you look at Garth chasing free agents, you can guess that money is not such an issue as people make. Wang’s not likely being a tightwad. Its the simply understanding of why blow cash when the team can’t even make the playoffs. Remember, they all learned a hard lesson of how going the free agent route worked in Ted Nolan’s last run. They changed gears, and committed to it. I think this free agency, despite the lack of reeling in the big fish, has been proof positive of them willing to spend.

OH MY GOD, JANKS ISN’T DRAFTING!!

Umm, just want to remind what Ryan Jankowski did. He was a well-respected guy who ran the scouts. Though we cannot deny his counted voice, he was one of a few that funneled to the final selections. However, as General Manager does dictate by meaning, Garth’s choice and selection was final.

There is some argument and debate here, that somehow others made those choices…some going as far to say Charles Wang.

To my own understanding this is not true. Garth Snow, as GM, had all final say. Whether he used a Ouija board, picked it out of a hat, used a system that’s been in place since Neil Smith, or talked to Dionne Warwick…the buck stops with him.

Obviously, one would think an owner would be consulted. After all, you got to sign them, or explain on how one kid fell out of the first round, or god knows what else. But if people think that Charles Wang is sitting reading scouting reports, with a cup of tea and a fat cigar, selecting picks, you have another thing coming. Garth has propped-up Janks to talk about kids on ITV and give the skinny. This is certainly true enough, and one would think the head of the scouts should give fans the best scouting analysis. He, ummm…runs the scouts. One would think he has the best grasp on the reports. Also notice that this draft he did not do that at all.

I won’t dismiss Jankowski’s role. He was moved from European Scout to Assistant GM and Director of Amateur Scouting since August of 2006. This is months after the 2006 draft that Feltrin had to watch Neil Smith and his team select…

(courtesy The HockeyDB.com)

2006 Entry
Draft Num. Round Player Pos Drafted From GP G A Pts PIM
2006 Entry 7 1 Kyle Okposo R Des Moines Buccaneers [USHL] 154 39 57 96 72
2006 Entry 60 2 Jesse Joensuu W Assat Pori [FNL] 18 2 2 4 8
2006 Entry 70 3 Robin Figren L Vastra Frolunda Juniors (Sweden)
2006 Entry 100 4 Rhett Rakhshani R US National Under 18 Team
2006 Entry 108 4 Jase Weslosky G Sherwood Park Crusaders [AJHL]
2006 Entry 115 4 Tomas Marcinko R Kosice Jr. [Slovakia]
2006 Entry 119 4 Doug Rogers C St. Sebastian’s [Mass. H.S.]
2006 Entry 126 5 Shane Sims D Des Moines Buccaneers [USHL]
2006 Entry 141 5 Kim Johansson W Malmo Jrs [Sweden]
2006 Entry 160 6 Andrew MacDonald D Moncton Wildcats [QMJHL] 49 1 6 7 22
2006 Entry 171 6 Brian Day R Governor Dummer Academy (Mass.)
2006 Entry 173 6 Stefan Ridderwall G Djurgarden Jrs. (Sweden)
2006 Entry 190 7 Troy Mattila L Springfield Jr. Blues [NAHL]

So we cannot attribute Jank’s role, nor even Garth Snow. But we can attribute it to the foundations that the Islanders use to this very day. Once Milbury’s system was flushed out, that is.

So if we even look to diminish Garth’s role. And who would ever do that, right? I don’t have an axe to grind with the fellow. BUT if we did, then we’d have to reduce Janks role as well.

Well then, what are we debating about?

Oh yes…somehow the sky is falling. Now I remember.

CHICKEN-LITTLE IS JUST WAY OVERDONE

Look, I’ve been there. I’m going to be 40 years old this summer. I’ve watched this team careen off a cliff, fall down a hill, and them watch Mike Milbury squat on it until we cried uncle. But there needs to be a little leeway and stepping back by the Islanders faithful who react to every fart and fizzle as if someone just smashed their world. It doesn’t help that some people push them along.

Here’s a great one:

“The NHL should investigate”

Investigate what exactly? That someone’s contract didn’t get renewed? Really? In the business world, we call this…well, Tuesday. In other words, just another contract situation when the contracted and the employer have two completely different set of values. I agree that is just another badly handled thing by the Isles who need to be far more proactive and with a bit more panache as an organization so that these things don’t blow up. Hiding things, or constantly pushing things under a rug, thinking that nothing is wrong, is well….silly.

Islanders have been doing this for a few years now, with some spectacularly embarrassing results, including lately…the Lighthouse Project.

Silent and brooding just doesn’t work as a business organization. You are a sports team, therefore you are a PUBLIC business. You don’t get to work in a vacuum and never will. There seems to be more to this, especially in how it was handled by the Islanders. But, much like an free agent who the Isles choose not to renew, one has to think when a employees contract is up, the same rules apply. It’s a business, team is moving on, so does the one with the contract. That’s the problem with contracts in the first place. They run out. Then someone has to make a decision. Yes or no. Well, unfortunately Ryan’s answer was nay…but one would think that had to cross his mind.

But to think that some sort of grave crime happened because Isles didn’t renew…not buying it. Ryan is a bright guy and he’ll get his own club one day to show what he can do. But to act like this is the greatest crime since they canceled MASH?

Come on now.

The Isles public has a propensity to get rattled, shaken, stirred, and outraged at the slightest provocation…or even a blog or tweet. Let calmer heads prevail.

Drafting is a process. One of those process people is now gone. Time will tell on what difference it really makes. But one has to think if Janks contract wasn’t renewed, then his voice was just a little bit less with the draft just two weeks ago. You know…that one that everyone seemed to love, sign praises and cite: In Garth We Trust.

Well that trust seems very liable to the wind blowing.

As always there is a bit too much hot air.

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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. Nick Giglia says:

    Unfortunately, it’s a combination of bad PR and the impossible position in which Garth Snow finds himself. If he makes a good decision, fans claim he got lucky, and if he does something the fans don’t like they trot out the backup goalie stuff. I’m definitely with you that the crying is getting old and that you can’t base your whole opinion on a franchise based on the last article you read.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BDGallof, Adam Craig Sherlip and others. Adam Craig Sherlip said: @HockeyIndie really great post! it says so much that i wish i had the eloquence and patience to convey (http://bit.ly/bPScp8) [...]

  3. billy says:

    good on you BD , for pointing out the whole Snow secrecy regime; add to that is the fact they have 1 team reporter (katie), who you cant even read her articles without shelling out 200 bux for an online newspaper sub for a city i dont even live in.

    It definitely was not handled properly, but there is concern since how can Snow be the GM AND the head of scouting? That doesnt make sense nor is it logical, who runs the office while he’s checking out a player in Latvia? ahaha

    The isles need to learn to connect with their fans, Snow is very smart, but he doesnt seem to be socially “on the ball” in that he doesnt really care about the public perception, even when its fans of his team that are the ones upset or at least looking for an explanation.
    No one says he has to pander to anyone, but he should be upfront and accountable to fans for his decisions.

  4. Isles Fanatic says:

    I reall do not care how they operate behind closed doors, all I want is a good and compettive product on the ice(still 2 yrs away).

    THis move is just part of many smll moves that looks cheap, bizarre and has a cost cutting angle to it…whether you agree to it or not.

    The fact Jankowski is not renewed does not change or affect my world…realizing after the first two weeks of Free Agency that the Isles will be a good 8 to 10 points out of a playoff spot come next spring… makes for a long year…

  5. jason says:

    BD, good artice. Thanks for putting things into perspective. You are right its not the end of the world. Im more worried about what Nick wrote yesterday about the rumors of the ver very very trimmed down LH. Do, you think Queens is a realistic option?

  6. BDGallof says:

    Queens will always be an option the question is depending on others to make it happen. There is also the option as continuing as-is…something never quite talked about. Wang still owns Marriot and some land around there. Someone else could come in and transform area on a smaller scale, who must also refurbish arena, and Wang could still reap that reward despite not being the guy to do it. So lots of possiblities.

  7. Madchef says:

    Great Job BD. I have been a fan for a good twentysomething years and shared all the ups and mostly downs like everyone else but the constant whining over every little personnel move like it is the end of the world is ludacris. I want a winner like everyone else and Snow has a plan, the respect of other league officials, and has done well to now. Wang has not had every move be a success but he loses money every year and has spent in the past to try for the big players. What more can you ask of them. Patience is the key we have waited this long for a perrenial contender what is another couple seasons.

  8. MikeNvP says:

    The Isles definitely need a PR manager (or a more active one if they already have one).

  9. BDGallof says:

    To be fair, i think their media dept focus is on prospect camp. prob just some growing pains. Also, honestly, they haven’t been very good on being proactive since Botta was there….credit is due. He was a strong internal voice and PR was his forte.

  10. MJS says:

    Interesting how this looks like a front office reshuffling with Trottier being out as head of player development as well. This could be cost cutting at its finest (eliminating redundancies and consolidating) or it could be that someone up top isn’t happy that Josh Bailey didn’t turn into Sidney Crosby over night… I suppose we will have to wait a few weeks to see if anyone else is let go and if those positions are filled.

  11. HyeDray says:

    Excellent and common sense approach B.D.

    My biggest issue right now with the Islanders has to do with the underlying theme you touched on.

    Who is in charge of the PR for the New York Islanders?

    There is a way to do things. A civilized and dignified approach. Unless the guy was fired—holding some sort of photo session, a retrospective (as you say) a simple THANK YOU would go a very long way toward controlling, massaging, and keeping some order in the blogosphere. Perhaps in different circumstances, that may not matter—but the blogosphere IS the NEWS SOURCE for the NY Islanders. So managing it should be part of the PR strategy.

    PR 101 dectates that if you have “bad news” you want to release it first so that you can control the story—at least for a while.

    What bothers me as well is the way in which people are being treated. Some may see that as “touchy-feely” but a first class operation would have handled Biron differently. A first class operation would have thanked Jankowski for his hard work and years of service to the Islander family. A first class operation would have been forthright with the fans, and while you don’t need to discuss the mans detailed health issues which are private, you could simply alert fans to some truth—that DP is not going to play because he has “this” or “that,” and it is not a big guessing game.

    If the PR strategy is, “lets say nothing so that everyone keeps talking about us…” then the person in charge or PR needs to be fired. It is not a good thing when front office news dominates a franchise—particularly from your own fans.

    During the days when the Isles were a model franchise, the front office was hardly a factor. We did not hear about this kind of nonsense. If a member of the Islander family took a new job, they were thanked. How many times would Jiggs & Eddie make it a point to say, “on behalf of the Islanders we would like to wish person X the best of luck as they are taking a new position….”

    I think what Isles fans want is to be treated with a certain level of intelligence and decency. They are tired of being played.

    BD—Id love to get into the details of how the Isles work their PR structure, and how it compares to other sports teams. It would be a VERY interesting comparison and read. I believe it will speak directly to the core issues the Islanders face.

  12. 19 Isle in NJ 22 says:

    BD – I think you shed light one one of the Isles’ most lingering problems … Perception!

    The Isles’ vacuum stylized management system means … We fans only get to see what they want us to see.

    One of the things that Isles’ management had wanted us to see is that all was well … That we were going to rebuild via the draft, and to have no fear about the rebuild … Because the Islanders have in their scouting arsenal a brilliant Chief of Amatuer Scouting in Ryan Jankowski. So we buy that rare piece of tibit from the management, because …. Well … they are willing to feed that to a starving fan base that will digest any positive news… and yes … It sustains us for a while.

    Now they tell us he’s not worth the renewal… and that Garth is going to assume his responsibilities, and to leave it at that.

    Well … as an intelligent, yet sensitive fanbase the Isles have … it makes us question. Since we haven’t seen any results in picking up stud free agents … we hang our hat on what the “Oraganization” touts as a well stocked and talented prospect system. Our “Perception” is that Ryan Jankowski has been the catalyst of this steady, slow yet positive rebuild.

    Our “Perception” is that Garth is running the team’s day to day operations, very busy with the business of running an NHL team, so busy that he barely has time to run to the four corners of the continent to check in on prospective draft selections, and existing prospects … because as it is soooo understanding … There’s a shit load of teams around N.A. (including High Schools). Don’t even get me started on Europe.

    Obviously we know that scouting is a team sport … but like a team on the ice .. that team has to be managed, tweaked and focused on results. That was Janks job … and my “Perception” is that he was a maestro at it… because they told us so … not only the team … but other reputable media outlets. Heck … Team Canada’s site touted his accomplishments with the Islanders regularly.

    So one is left to “Perceive” that the Isles have their 70s / 80′s version of Devellano … Torrey had the brilliant Jimmy D … and Garth and Janks was this generations team builing power players. That’s what the Isles’ front office has been telling us for 3 years during the dark days of the rebuild.

    So BD … can you blame the fan base, after last week’s Kovy PR debacle that an inflammed fanbase reacts to another Isles’ fart in the tent?

    Perception, and managing fan expectations is the key to keeping things steady in the storm. Nick Giglia and I spoke of this after Garth traded down for Bailey on Logan’s site in ’08. Bailey may not of been the choice that Nick and I favored … and the guy (Colin Wilson) was right there for the taking. He traded down again… and took a guy who I read about briefly. Perhaps Garth / Janks made the right choice … but wasn’t it Garth that said “our scouts thought Josh was best for our team” … Garth goes by what Janks and the scouts say … He’s as personally equipped with the time to make these choices as we are with the Hockey News’ draft special edition.

    Scouting is a science … not a perfect science … but the guys who’ve been doing it their whole careers are the best ones at doing it.

    I don’t know shit about half the guys in the first round other than what I have read… I try to resist the temptation to go by what other fans say … because they read the same stuff in the media I read. We have stats, and at best a two paragraph quote from a coach or ISS.

    John Tavares was a gimmie … he’s been out there so long. I just hope that Garth’s “added” responsibilites help him keep the eye on the prize.

    In a positive sense … maybe these responsibilities will enable him to get some grass roots experience, that will only sharpen his drafting accumen. One can hope.

  13. RobC/KO21 says:

    Maybe Botta should get the whole story before causing such a panic???

  14. RobC/KO21 says:

    BD, you said that Wang proved he was willing to spend on FA’s..How?

  15. [...] That said, they are trying to find a new position for the lauded Islanders Alumni. However, on the backend of the HiJanks panic, it was just another nail in the coffin for some fans who have been searching for ledges to stand [...]

  16. Islander505 says:

    I’m never gonna forgive Snow or Wang for letting Devellano go either. (or was that Botta’s fault?, no….wait….Botta was the guy who signed Yashin, right?).

    How the hell is this team gonna stay in last place if they keep getting rid of the people that had something to do with it?

  17. BDGallof says:

    “How the hell is this team gonna stay in last place if they keep getting rid of the people that had something to do with it?”

    LOL. well done.

    • RobC/KO21 says:

      BD, you mentioned that Wang proved he will spend $$$ on FA;s but I dont see that…I have a feeling the Kovy debacle was a publicity stunt. How did Wang prove to you hes not cheap and will pay for FA’s?