Ok, lets keep this blunt and to the point…
The Isles came out strong, but reality hit like a ton of bricks. The coach got canned. This is not because Gordon was doing a terrible job, per say. But more likely clear that Snow was not going to resign him post this last year on contract. So, his dismissal was more as a sacrifice before its time in a hope to wake-up the young team. (we’ll go into the whys at a later date, wrong or right on the Isles part)
It did not work.
A likely thought was that Bailey or Tavares turn on the jets with Gordon gone. This has not been the case. Tavares last night looked just as lost as the next guy who is trying to decide which empty seat to move down into at the Nassau Coliseum for the next home game after paying too much for his ticket.
This team is in complete disarray. The Isles fanbase is in disarray. The season is in disarray.
This might be the toughest times for the Isles team and fans. For something is very wrong. I’d like to call out a couple of glaring mistakes and offer a few solutions…
Mistake #1: Not Enough Vets
Pushing off the vets was clearly an error. Doug Weight is just one guy. The rest of the team looks like an intensive care ward. Most of them a young and inexperienced. The lack of veteran cohesiveness….a big weakness on the former coach also, btw, remains.
Vets and experience matters, no matter the style of play. Isles need some veterans mixed in and fast. This might be a way to stave off the freefall and get some kids to develop where they belong…either deeper on the depth chart or in the AHL. The “let’s go with kids on offense” experiment failed miserably. Time to fix a mistake, Garth. Time to admit fault, fix it, and move forward.
When your dman (besides Streit) is one of your point leaders, there is a serious problem.
Mistake #2: Raising Prices
I don’t care if the Isles got a better lease deal with SMG. They had a hell of a lot of nerve, lack of forethought and just plain insulted the fanbase with the ticket pricing. Who the hell is running the business end, Gordon Gecko? Lower prices on tickets, food and parking. Now. What a crock that is, and fans know it. If there is a #1 reasons fans haven’t come back, besides the smell on the ice lately, it is due to the price not being right.
Mistake #3: Open Communication
Pretend to actually want to communicate. Any successful or at feasible business actually makes an attempt to communicate, inform fans, press, bloggers and anyone else on a proactive basis. This somehow was lost.
Start with the Lighthouse Project. Enough of the silence! Admit Scott Rechler is out. Admit you tried to get meetings with ToH’s Kate Murray lately and she refused. Admit you are completely at the whim of Ed Mangano and his larks. Stop the silent madness. Stop pulling away and isolating yourself, you jerks. Come back to reality and open up the lines of communication. You are losing the battle, the war, and yourselves.
This about face last year and subsequent actions has failed spectacularly on every possible level.
There is not a soul that thinks this is working. Get over the mistake, wake up and smell the coffee and start talking. We are listening….time to ante up.
Mistake #4: Accept That Free Agency Did Not Work
Admit that you tried to not only chase many a defenseman, but also that the forwards you did try to get didn’t want to come to Long Island. Isles free agency failed miserably for one big reason…they are not a competitive team poised to win soon.
The rebuild’s long arc still has not see the bump upward. No key guy is going to sign with a team that is in flux like this UNLESS they want more playing time…and then they aren’t quite the top flight guys you were hoping for.
Isles ARE willing to spend. Just can’t get the people they want. Those they did get are not quite shoring up the team in ways they hoped.
Reality bites, but at least it would fade away the absolute falsehood that Charles Wang is penny pinching. Admit that there is a deep problem here in getting good or key people.
Mistake #5: Stop the Madness with the Internal Paranoia
Stop pushing away criticism. Stop being the paranoid crazy uncle that the family whispers about. Stop trying to control what you can’t. The apparatus that has been installed under Snow and the Isles brass has lent itself to unfettered paranoia, reactionism, and just a negative view of those around them. It is a deep flaw and will only serve fear and failure, not success.
Get people who can deal with press, media, petulant fans and bloggers, and just plain get over yourself.
Enough is enough here.
Mistake #6: Hire a NHL-level Coach Now, Not Later
Sorry, Jack ain’t the guy. This team needs a NHL-level guidance and development.
The Isles coaching vacancy is an opportunity, not so hard to fill as the press makes it. This team does have young talent, even if they are in freefall. Even if just for the rest of the season, this team needs a NHL-level hand at the tiller.
It is very hard to “assess talent” when the team is an unmitigated wreck.
This team would be better served with a Bob Hartley, Andy Murray or even a Paul Maurice. No dice for a Ken Hitchcock, especially when Scott Gordon was thought to be too cerebral. So find that other type of coach and get them in there.
Give a one year deal, or hell, go for two and make them a consultant if they don’t work out. But the team and development would be better served with a guy who has been there and who has the experience of being in a losing streak. There is nothing to lose here.
Mistake #7: Return Chris Botta his Credentials
I’m not a fan of advocacy style blogs, so I am not big on Botta’s stylings post going truly independent (off Isles payroll). I think Botta has always short-changed himself and fans here, but there is not a doubt he deserves access and does a first-rate job on covering the team. Just because his style is not my personal cup of tea doesn’t mean he’s not a key guy or not important. He is very important, especially due to the fact of the lack of reporting that goes on this team.
This is not the first time he was in hot water with Isles Brass. Remember a video that had to be shot when he made the site and himself the news back before the Lighthouse hearing?
I do. I shot the video. This was the first time the Isles were hot and bothered with his work almost immediately when he wasn’t on payroll. This issue festered and continued thereafter, especially when Botta went more and more into that style of work.
It is this issue, not some self-grandiose battle with Garth Snow as the crux here….in my opinion.
No matter. Sit down with the guy, vent, work it out, and get him back in the locker room. It is a disservice to fans otherwise, and just not acceptable.
The Isles seem to have this internal fantasy that press should be a certain way. Isles have no clue how easy they have it. It will get easier as more and more fans stay away and stop going to their website.
Isles used tout their huge numbers to their own website two seasons ago. I bet that those numbers have dropped exponentially since Botta’s rise. This might be the number two issue between the two parties that nobody is talking about.
Isles are trying to dis-empower a guy who they helped empower. And they keep hurting their own coverage with all sorts of antics and blogger push-offs. Isles defanged the blog box. Isles defanged Newsday. Isles defanged PB. They hurt their own coverage for what reason exactly? It makes no sense. They are hurting their own fans and product. Open a dialogue and work out differences.
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.