DIRE STRAITS ON LONG ISLAND – Is The Latest News Reason To Hit Panic Button? A Blog Roundtable Takes This On …

Tough to be an Isles fan these days, huh? Everyone is feeling the pain it seems.

My own belief is we are in the middle of a media pile-on, and some facts and realities have gotten a bit lost. Just my take, and fine if nobody agrees. I think the pile-on has upset the fanbase even further
who really thought, like the team did, that a corner would be turned. Instead the opposite…leaving a bitter taste in many mouths.

Blame can go around, but always best to really give an objective take and stance. How? I invited some highly respected Isles and non-Isles blokes to join us for a blogger roundtable of sorts to gauge particulars about the season, situation and the bigger picture.

Our esteemed group (thus far…more might be added later):

Russ Cohen, Founder and Owner, Sportsology Network, Co-Author, 100 Ranger Greats. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and a frequent guest on XM Home Ice radio. Russ Cohen spent over two decades growing up on Long Island and he now has a few books on sale this holiday season. Check them out!

Dominik, Lighthouse Hockey. One of the better Isles blogs out there and even-keeled fellows. Dom doesn’t need access or to go toe-to-toe with others (what i probably do too often) in order to provide great Isles coverage.

Nick Giglia, LetThereBeLighthouse Blog and author of the original Lighthouse Project petition. Also one of the first victims of Isles LHP blowback before myself, Botta or others got the high hat from the Isles organization.

Jess Rubenstein, The Prospect Park blog. Since 2004 he’s been covering the prospects of the New York Rangers and now also covering the prospects of the New York Islanders.

“Trottier”, one of HFboards Islanders section best, wisest and most respected posters.

Matthew Rappaport, Isles Prospect blogger and a well-respected HFBoards poster

Chris TMC, Islanders GM at TheNHLArena. Runs their Isles section and is a educated fan.

Plus our own…

Tony Stabile, Isles Blog Box member (aka…they didn’t throw him out yet), as well as featured blogger here on HI.

Andre Garabedian, Isles blogger on HockeyIndependent who debuted this year. Also knows as HyeDray on the boards.

And for comedy relief, Scott Gallof 1/2 half of Sibling Rivalry and NY Rangers blogger currently convalescing from his blogging injury this season (aka: The Clap). That’s right, he hasn’t blogged since March of last year. Someone get a petition for this coach potato to get off his ass.

Blogger Roundtable Rules Given were….

Feel free to expand where you feel the need to. Try not to go more than a paragraph each, if possible. You can do a sum up of your own take on things at the end. Some here are Isles fans, bloggers, Isles blog boxers, former announcers, board moderators, and some not even Isles fans.

1) If you predicted the Isles standings this season publicly or personally, where do Isles the current standings compare to your expectation?

RUSS:
I’d say it fell under expectations but I didn’t pick them to make the playoffs. Injuries are a part of it but I think when you are that far under the cap they could have prepared themselves with a better blue line and I think that’s a big part of their problems.

DOMINIK:
A little bit lower, though not quite as much once I learned of the long-term injuries to Okposo and Streit. After the Wisniewski addition, I figured a better powerplay and more stable defense would make this team similar to but better than last year’s: Staying in the playoff bubble until late, but ultimately falling short. Once those injuries happened, I feared much worse.

NICK:
Like most people, I’d thought and hoped the Islanders would take a big step forward this year. Sadly, after the promise of the first 7 games the team plummeted back to earth. Hard. I wondered at the time of the Streit and Okposo injuries if the Isles would be artificially bad this year, like the 08-09 Avs, and therefore be poised for a huge improvement next year. However, I wonder if that’s a cop-out on my part and an excuse for often listless play.

TROTS:
I fully expected NYI to be at the bottom of their division and a non-playoff team. I did not expect abject failure as we are seeing. It is exceedingly hard for a team to play itself out of “contention” prior to January/February, given the bastardized Nu NHL point system. NYI has somehow managed to do so.

CHRIS TMC:
I didn’t’ have really high hopes for this season to begin with- but I thought that, with a healthy roster and some progress from the kids, they could surprise everyone, be a bit ahead of the rebuild schedule, and fight for a playoff spot. That idea unfortunately went down the tubes in preseason as far as I was concerned. Now my expectations mainly deal with the Isles figuring out which players are worth betting on and which ones aren’t.

MATTY:
I publicly predicted that this was the first year the Isles would begin contending for a playoff position.  I thought that even after the Okposo and Streit injuries, the Isles would be out of the bottom five in the NHL.  The team stood to improve in a ton of ways.  They showed synergy and fight in the second half of last year.  It seemed like Gordon’s system was setting in, and players’ actions were much more natural.  The young kids showed signs of improvement.  You figured things would actually move forward.

TONY:
I try not to predict before the season starts as injuries and other factors can change so quickly (as we’ve seen with the missing Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit). But I don’t think anyone could have could have predicted this mess.

ANDRE:

Interestingly, I did not do an “official prediction” post, though I did write up a preview. Based on the belief that there were improvements to the defense, and the anticipated growth of the young core of players, I felt the team would compete. The playoffs were a nice thought, and with anything possible over an 82 game season, I did not rule it out, but it was far from assured. The team is clearly not meeting my own expectations. Many of the young players have not produced, the injuries — not only to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo, but the game-in, game-out constant announcement that another player has gone down with an injury has not helped. In the 25 games played, there have only been a few where a player has not been lost to at least some time.

SCOTT:
Par for the course.

2) How much do you think losing Kyle Okposo, who is a first liner and Marc Streit, their top dman and PP QB, affected this team? How does that effect fall into your expectations for the season and this season’s current reality?

RUSS:

Every team has to be able to succeed despite injuries. When a team loses a power play quarterback and their top defenseman that’s a huge loss. With all of that said there should have been somebody else who could step into that job without missing a beat.

DOMINIK:

Simply, no other team in the league has taken an injury impact that large. People can gloss over “just two players” etc., but it happened to be two of the best three on an already thin team. Few teams survive that; thin teams never do. This is a league of many very good players and a few exceptional players per team who reliably make a difference. Take two of the latter away and…here we are.

NICK:

See above (#1 answer). I wondered if injuries to 2 of their top players would make the Isles artificially bad this year, and it’s definitely affected them. Guys are playing above their pay grade and skill level in most roles right now.

TROTS:
Losing KO and Striet have obviously hurt, the later moreso, as NYI’s defense is impotent in all three zones. That said, their loses should not be exaggerated, as it points to how painfully shallow this team’s depth is.
It is not unreasonable to state that a mere “respectable” team would at least tread water (.500) with these types of loses.

CHRIS TMC:

I miss Kyle Okposo so much I cant frickin stand it. And its not because I thought he was going to suddenly look like a 27yo vet star out there, but because it seems to me like he is a kid who others really rally around. The Isles really need him.

MATTY:
In retrospect, both those injuries were equally crippling.  Let’s forget for a second that they’re both great players.  Streit and Okposo were clearly the heart and soul of the team.  Even if their play couldn’t have changed the losing streak, their leadership might have stopped the bleeding and saved Scott Gordon his job.  After they went down, there were no true leaders left.  In the meantime, the Isles sorely missed their speed and defensive responsibility more than anything.  The power play was fine until the injuries really started piling on, and they brought in enough rough-and-tumble physical players.

TONY:
The loss of Streit has been tremendous, he is a leader on the bench and on the ice. He should be the Captain of this team as Doug Weight has proved unable to stay healthy and leaves a tremendous void on the bench. Okposo is a big loss as well as Tavares lost his top wing and has been forced to play with career minor leaguer PA Parenteau. Please remember that Okposo has not scored 30 goals in his career yet so he can be counted on as help….not as the answer.

ANDRE:

As stated above, the injuries in general have not helped. Losing two key players before the season even starts is a huge blow. Still, there was enough depth to have the team be productive in my opinion. They would certainly be weaker, but never could I have imagined this poor. I wrote a piece that many Islander fans were in full blown panic the day it was announced that Striet was lost for the majority of the year. Most fans — perhaps correctly — were all over the net suggesting the season was over. I have a different approach. I wanted to see how the team played before consigning them to a lost season. It turned out, the team was capable of some success as we saw early in the season, which makes the current situation with certain players all the more frustrating.

SCOTT:

A bag of dung is still a bag of dung even if it has some sprinkles in it.

3) Who do you blame for the “the streak” also known as the 14 game losing streak, or more aptly….Gordo’s canning? Was the coach to blame?

JESS:

The road to Gordon’s canning started when the injuries happened as they (the injuries) first exposed the lack of real depth in the system then became the excuses for everything from not carrying De Haan and Nino to the eventual termination. Gordon never had a chance once the key players went down.

RUSS:
It was a combination of everything. I think the team might have been tuning out the coach but we’re not seeing any real Improvement under Jack Capuano so they have to go back to the drawing board and make some roster changes.

DOMINIK:
If I could peg blame for a streak, I’d be in Vegas right now. Every game is different. They played better in a few of those losses than they did in some of their early season wins. That’s the nature of sports and luck. If I’d blame anything specific, it would be that a young team wasn’t as equipped to handle that, and some of them lost their way. That streak is rare, but far more likely once you’ve lost two of your best players.

NICK:
Scott Gordon, like most coaches, was a convenient scapegoat for the poor play. I wonder if a lack of veteran presence in the room affected the Isles in their ability to bounce back from the first few losses rather than letting it fester into the awful thing it became. At the end of the day, accountability has to come from in the room and not from the executive level, and while they make the right noises I wonder if some of the young guys have learned how to be pros yet.

TROTS:

Charles Wang. If the owner i$ commited, the GM ha$ resources and subsequently, the coach has assets with which to work.

CHRIS TMC:

I can’t blame Gordon. The blame game is such a slippery slope- as soon as you point to one thing it starts a downhill domino effect that gains momentum as it takes us nowhere. Without getting into that, if I had to blame one main reason for it I’d blame the Islanders not having even a single vet winger in the top 6. They dont even have a guy like Richard Park anymore- not like I think he is a savior but, as we can all see, even having a guy like Parkie (Richard Park) was better than watching a bunch of kids not being able to figure out WTH they are doing wrong and not knowing how to change it. A coach doesnt build the team, he only works with what he is given… and whoever is not on IR.

MATTY:

It depends on how far back you want to go.  Approximately, the blame lies with the players.  Ultimately, the blame lies with ownership.  I thought Wang might have known what he was doing when he installed Snow and had them actually rebuild the program from the ground up.  I’m pretty sure I thought wrong.

TONY:
The streak can be blamed on a bunch of things, injuries, poor play, a coach’s unwillingness to make changes, lack of talent, lack of scoring….etc. I was never a huge fan of Scott Gordon’s and I always felt he waited too long to make necessary changes. His firing in my opinion was just a matter of time.

ANDRE:
Pointing a finger of blame on one or two people is to easy. Mistakes are made in game that are compounded by other mistakes. Errors in judgement about personnel by Snow and Gordon, poor choices of line combinations, bad decision on the playing system, and mostly, bad execution of play. That covers just about everyone from the GM, right through to the last man on the bench. Perhaps the GM put too much faith in young players like Comeau, Bailey, Tavares, Neilsen and Schremp to produce offensive stats. The coach many have decided to play a system that he was comfortable playing, but did so without having the personnel to execute the system properly. His was a high speed skating system — and most of our players are not exactly blazing fast skaters. The players — for a reason we may not be aware of, were making very poor choices with and without the puck. The goaltending in a few games was disastrous. It is a collective problem that can’t be put on one person.

SCOTT:

How can any player truly feel motivated playing in a festering cesspool like the Coliseum or having a purple dinosaur that belongs to the indoor football league team dancing around the rink?  Even as a Rangers’ fan, I am embarrassed watching a game in that arena, just as fellow New Yorker. It’s painful. I can only imagine how it is for a player.Was a coaching change needed, probably. But it’s just a reactive solution to a much deeper issue. There seems to be a distinct lack of team identity and pride since the Pierre Turgeon days.  The only time it seems this team is remotely motivated is when they play the Rangers.

4) The following, courtesy of the HockeyDB.com, is the NY Islandersdraft history. Describe your thoughts on the Isles drafts since Milbury and his group were kicked out of control of them back in 2006. Do you think that those drafted are better or worse than those picked during the previous tenure? Is the farm in better shape or worse shape since 2006 in your opinion?

RUSS:

I like to give drafts five years before I really analyze them but I can give you a midterm report card on them so far.

2006 – Anytime you can get two everyday players out of a draft you’re doing well. In this draft they had 13 picks so I think hoping for three is fair. I’m pretty sure Rhett Rakhshani will make it as well so I would give them a B­-. Jess Joensuu and Kyle Okposo will be NHLers for a while.

2007 – The jury is out on this year but I’d have to say I think Blake Kessel will eventually make it to the NHL after a few seasons in the AHL after he finishes his college career.  Jason Gregoire has a good chance as well.  They had five picks and no first rounders and still might get two players out of this draft. I’d give them a B- for this one.

2008 – The Islanders had 13 picks in this draft and they got Josh Bailey right out of the box.  Travis Hamonic should stick in the NHL now that he’s getting a chance and Kirill Petrov is a real talent who will soon turn 21. If they can sign and bring him over he will have to spend some time in the AHL but could play in the NHL someday.  Matt Martin is playing now, and I like David Toews, he could make it in a few years. I have to give them an A+ .

2009- John Tavares and Calvin de Haan will soon be playing together at the NHL level.  They might get a third player from this one so right now I’d give them a B+ for this one so far.

2010 – I really liked their 2010 draft. I’d say it’s too early to give them a grade for it but I would expect them to get at least two players from this one as well.

DOMINIK:
It’s better, without question. While I try to exorcise Milbury’s damage from daily thoughts, it’s myopic to consider the condition of this team without recognizing that there are zero major players left from his draft years. Milbury’s biggest draft contribution to the current team is a quality defenseman, Radek Martinek, who was an 8th round pick in 1999. Give me another NHL franchise so developmentally bankrupt for such a stretch. That’s a wound that takes more than four drafts to heal

JESS:
The 07 draft was a waste as other Jason Gregoire and the longshot Blake Kessel there is no kind of help out of this draft for themThe 08 draft shows promise as besides Bailey and Hammonic, I see a goalie in Poulin, Toews is showing promise.09 is where I see the upswing besides Tavares and De Haan, Cizikas is a gritty true heart and soul player works hard at both ends, and Anders Lee (6th) might be the steal of that draft as this is a power forward with linebacker size but small man skills and soft hands.

10 offers Nino and an underrated Brock Nelson, Kabanov is the gamble worth taking and Tony DeHart a depth defender.

The better question is have those drafted been developed to the best of their potential? You can draft all the great talents but if you fail to invest time and well as effort into helping these prospects reach their potential then they will fail to become contributors. The Islanders need to decide either develop everyone or rush them as the mixture is just not working.

NICK:
I don’t see how anyone can doubt the dramatically improved nature of the Isles drafting during the Snow years. There are always picks that are questionable in hindsight, but overall the drafts are very strong. Look at. 08: the Isles have 4 players in that draft who’ve made the NHL when some teams don’t even have 1! At this point Blake Comeau and DP are the only Milbury draft picks who may have a role moving forward. It’s Garth Snow’s team now.

TROTS:

I honestly do not know how to assess the drafts, 2006 forward. The verdict is still out. There was a major case of “premature fanjaculation” with it came to expectations among some NYI fans when it came to the recent drafts, that much is certain.

CHRIS TMC:
Even before the current era, there have been a number of times over the years in which the Isles drafted great and it got them nowhere… because they traded them all away. It looks to me like the Isles are now pretty much going to the other extreme- prospects and draft picks are practically like crack to Garth Snow. I do think the Isles have a great group of prospects though- a good sign of drafting well is when guys move up significantly in the eyes of the hockey world after they are drafted: Poulin, Lee, Cizikas, Hamonic, etc.

MATTY:

The selections have undoubtedly been markedly better.  Milbury couldn’t have screwed up worse.  I still think the 2008 draft will come up aces.  Bailey and Hamonic will be awesome if they’re developed correctly.  Petrov is a beast, but they have to bring him over.  Donovan is phenomenal.  Martin has been rushed, but he has it in him to be a valuable asset.

As for the rest of the drafts since ’06, I still think you have to give it time.  ’07 yielded players like Gregoire and Kessel, who have hope of becoming NHL players.  De Haan looks very good and should be another piece to the puzzle.  Anders Lee is tearing it up.  So there’s some hope there if the Isles can keep the talent together.

TONY:
For every Roberto Luongo and Todd Bertuzzi there was a Robert Nilsson. Milbury’s drafting techniques were both solid and unpredictable. I like that Snow has tried to build a team of character players as well as talented players (swinging for the fences on a player like Kabanov was uncharacteristic of him but a smart idea nonetheless). The problem isn’t the Islanders’ prospects; it’s the veteran talent (or lack thereof) that is their biggest problem.

ANDRE:
The draft is a funny thing. It is very much “hit or miss.” The early Milbury years were not all that terrible. What was terrible was Milbury’s psychotic nature and lack of patients. He drafted well in 1996, top heavy but good in 1997 and good in 1999. From that point on — in coincidence with when Charles Wang came into the mix, the wheels came off the wagon. Milbury, hog-tied by a lack of financial support was inclined to keep his picks and allow them to grow. But as soon as he was given carté blanch, he went nuts, and traded away most of the young talent that are now stars/super stars for “established” players that locked the team into mediocrity, and sapped any and all skill from the minors. His drafts in 2000 is a legendary disaster, and his drafts in 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05 were either equally terrible or weak, despite finding some reasonable skill.

In comparison, it is far to early to grade the drafts by Snow, and the one under Neil Smith. The 2006 draft looks like it has yielded 2 regulars with very good potential in Okposo and MacDonald. Joensuu, Rakhshani also show some promise. 2007 was a bust with only 5 picks, although Mark Katic and Blake Kessel have some ability. The 2008 draft looks promising but it is far to early to determine if Snow hit a home run or a single. Bailey though struggling, could still mature into a solid #2 center, Hamonic is a blue chip gem, Petrov could be a star if we can get him to Long Island, Matt Donovan David Ulstrom, Kevin Poulin, Matt Martin and Justin DiBenedetto are all at varying degrees of development and all showing real potential. The 2009 draft yield Tavares, and De Haan is a blue chip prospect. Cizikas looks promising, and the two big goalies have potential. This final draft has 3 players — Niederreiter, Nelson and Kabanov all with good potential. Though not NHL ready, the players from Snow’s drafts have restocked the farm superbly. Certainly, the farm is in far better shape then it was prior to 2006.

SCOTT:
I thought the islanders have done pretty decent in their drafting in the post-Milbury era. Better than Sather, sad to say.

5) In looking  at those drafted since, if some make the NHL, do you think the Isles will be a better team with those drafted as opposed to the current state?

RUSS:
The players that make it will help the Islanders but it takes time for all of these young players to gel as a unit. Right now the Islanders are a team that is clearly rebuilding, and they have been, and now you have to wait and see how the team develops.

DOMINIK:
Certainly. Looking at Hamonic, probably de Haan, plus a pool of Ullstrom, Anders Lee, Cizikas, Poulin, Donovan, Nelson — no clear stars but a lot of shrewd picks (de Haan may have been a reach for his slot, but should still be a legit player). A good pool of potential NHLers including several I didn’t mention. Some of those guys should hit.

JESS:
Yes I see potential and I see talent among the Islander prospects but what I am not seeing is them being pointed in a single direction. If Tavares is the building block then start putting other pieces around him.

NICK:
I think the Isles have a very solid stable of prospects, some of whom are being pressed into service now (see Joensuu and Hamonic) and others on the horizon (Niederreiter, de Haan, Poulin, Petrov, Kabanov, Rakhshani, Gregoire, Nelson, Cizikas). I believe they can either help form complementary pieces or be used in trades to fill in the gaps with established players.

TROTS:
Depends. Will those “making” the NHL with NYI be NHL worthy? Or simply inexpensive cheap thrills that Wang is throwing as a bone to the fanbase, regardless of their readiness. (Yes, I’m cynical.)

CHRIS TMC:
I certainly hope so. If they aren’t, the Islanders do not deserve to even BE an NHL team. I mean, you HAVE to be better than, well, horrible, once the kids you’ve been drafting and counting on for years are all playing. I know I would like to see at least one productive vet winger there somewhere in the top 6 to help these kids get to that point, but that is a different rant altogether.

MATTY:

Sure they will, but they need to surround the kids with actual players.  Hamonic shouldn’t have been in the NHL this year.  Neither, for that matter, should Martin.  They actually ended up making the wrong decision with Niederreiter and sent him down when they badly needed him.  He proved he was ready and they rewarded him by sending him on a plane to the other side of the country.  The subsequent tailspin probably wasn’t a coincidence, either.

TONY:
Without some veteran talent, the Islanders will continue to flounder. Edmonton has a very young team, with veterans like Kurtis Foster, Ryan Whitney, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. The Islanders do not have a veteran player of that stature on this team.

ANDRE:
Tough question because there is making the NHL, being good in the NHL and then excelling in the NHL. Then there is still the question of which of these players will make it to the NHL, and which will make it as an Islander. Though Garth Snow has shown patients in letting his picks develop, he still has the option to trade away some of these players. Should these players reach their potential with the Islanders— yes, the team will be better. But, that does not mean that some of them shouldn’t be considered in trades to add to the core of the team as a whole if the deal make long term sense.

SCOTT:

Having a team of drunk, inbred paraplegics may be better than their current state, so yeah sure.Seriously, it’s time to cut your losses with DP, the only thing more impressive than the 14 game losing streak is DP’s years on the DL list.

6) Name three to five key things outside the team playing that have affected your judgment of the rebuild, the future, or just your
opinion of the Islanders. Order them from 1 (most important) to 5 (least important)

RUSS:
1)      Player development is a huge part of the equation for young players and I don’t think the Islanders have some missing pieces in that area.
2)      You have to spend money to make money and they are too far under the cap to field a quality team. I think a quality; competitive team would bring in a lot more fans.
3)       Bad luck. They’ve had their share. Rick DiPietro may never be the same and that could hurt their rebuild.
4)      The arena. Players want to play in a first class building and the Nassau Coliseum hasn’t been that for over a decade.
5)      I still don’t know what the team stands for. I don’t know what the “Islander Way” is. I used to know but I think that message is now lost and needs to be redefined.

DOMINIK:
1) Ticket pricing: I don’t know why you raise ticket prices in this economy, with this on-ice product, while also asking fans to be patient with a rebuild — and after the lease revision created more outside revenue opportunities. It seems a slap to your most loyal customers and prone to backfire. The inevitable single-game discounts that follow upset current STH. The Blues ownership who bought that club from Wal-Mart-in-law Bill Laurie made the same mistake. The next year they made amends, people came back, and the environment is better now.

2) Attendance and media coverage: Given the above, low attendance is not surprising. But the combo of that and media coverage makes this the most challenging part of the rebuild: The will to stick with the plan despite tough stretches and avoid short-sighted moves (panic trades, budget-busting deals to the wrong free agents with baggage) requires thick skin, but it’s exactly where they must avoid mistakes of the past.

3) Wang communication: Given this setting, fans are pretty depressed. They don’t know what’s happening after 2015. Even if Wang doesn’t either, he should go Leonsis on the fanbase and communicate as often and as openly as possible. Engage the followers who are eager to follow, and they will keep an open mind. Throw them a bone, and do it often.

JESS:
1- Lack of Scouting and Development head
2- Lack of direction as to how the franchise should move forward
3- The “circle the wagons” mentality that has taken over the franchise.
4- I wonder about Islander fans themselves as I am seeing firsthand why the media pulls away from daily team coverage. I have been covering the Islander prospects since training camp and have seen less than a 1% response from any Islander fans. The Islanders have some great prospects who deserve coverage but the lack of interest might force me to pull the plug on the Islander prospects.

NICK:
In order:

Their attitude toward writers and other personnel whom they don’t feel row the party line.

Radio silence on the Lighthouse and all future plans.

Increase in ticket prices.

Size of scouting staff.

TROTS:
None of these stand alone; they are intertwined:

Wang’s Lighthouse charade

His early signs (summer, 2002) of not being willing to invest the resource$ to improve the team. On the heels of a solid 90+ point season, that summer he did…nothing. That has been the continual pattern moving forward: doing just enough to keep fan interest alive. We see that today in the drafting of a(n) overhyped “savior” and surroundng him with AHLers.

His ability to turn off, or fire, quality people: Janks, Trottier, Lafontaine, Lavy, and Nolan.

CHRIS TMC:
1. The New York Islanders need at least one productive vet winger there somewhere in the top 6 to help these kids. The biggest argument I get whenever I say that is how the Isles cant afford to give up draft picks or prospects. Well, they are going to have no choice. You cannot ice a team of all kids with a cap floor, and you cannot give all these kids contracts. It is impossible. I am not advocating trading JT and Okposo and the Isles 1st rounders for the next 3 years for some big star or a long term contract, I am advocating getting an average top 6 NHL winger for a couple of years. That’s all. Yes the Isles have to give up something to get him… but IMO they are giving up a lot more by NOT getting him.

2. The New York Islanders made a rather large mistake in raising ticket prices as much as they did. I understand that it correlated with the Islanders (finally!) gaining some revenues from other shows at NVMC, but I think the raised prices (bettered by only the Caps and Hawks, mind you!) are both unfair to current season ticket holders and ultimately a disincentive to potential STHs. I also think that the last-minute online “deals” that the Isles keep putting out there are not successfully reaching the people they need to reach and are ticking off the STHs even more. If your $40 tickets are now $17 because of some deal, will you be a STH next season? Under-publicized last-minute promotional ticket sales that not enough people ever even hear about make season ticket holders feel cheated for buying season tickets at inflated prices in the first place. In todays struggling economy, with a rebuilding team, maybe someone needs to sit down with the Isles organization and do that old guns and butter exercise.

3. The New York Islanders have made absolutely baffling PR moves in recent times. Raising ticket prices & parking before the on-ice production of the team improved, praising Jankowski then dumping him without explanation, saying nothing (and letting MSG speak for the organization) regarding dumping the extremely popular Billy Jaffe, jerking Trottier around saying they would give him a new position that has yet to be offered, an unprecedented loyalty to intern-turned-beatwriter Katie Strang and ONLY Katie Strang, even though she is behind a Dolan paywall, the list goes on and on. I do not understand these moves and what frustrates me about them is that handling these things in a better manner would not cost money, they do not depend on the Lighthouse or the teams W/L record or anything like that. They could handle these things better if they saw them as a priority- but for some reason, they don’t seem to be. Even the great things they did- spending millions on renovating the players areas, revamping the ice machines, etc barely got mentioned. Why they wouldn’t choose to make a huge deal out of things like this is beyond me.

MATTY:

#1: Incorrect development of players.  By far the biggest issue.  Yo-yoing Bailey was the last straw.

#2: Lack of organizational continuity.  They now canned another coach.  Capuano was great where he was, and now they’ve overmatched him in the NHL.  Trottier was VP of PD, now he’s gone.  There’s no system in place anymore to really develop the valuable youngsters into competent pros.  That’s alarming, to say the least.

#3: Lack of commitment from ownership.  Doesn’t really encourage anyone to stay motivated and think long-term.

TONY:
1. The fact the team has gone silent. The year the Islanders let go Ted Nolan and they planned to start the “rebuild”, Snow and the team held open houses, Q&A sessions and town halls at the Coliseum. Ever since the downfall of the Lighthouse project, the team has gone silent, and quite frankly, it’s pissing the fans off. There is no one talking about direction, (either of the team’s play or where they might be playing in 2016). Someone needs to step up and talk to the fans as they are tired of being isolated.

ANDRE:

1) General Apathy: We can discuss ticket prices, the PR issues, and personnel decisions, but I find those all fall specifically under a very bad owner and under its own category. The general apathy of the fan base — the customers for Charles Wang — is most troubling. The franchise is on life support as it is, and with the current state of affairs on its last legs. If Mr. Wang thinks it is bad losing $10 million a year, he is poised to lose much more. If the fans decide to stay away — as they have been the past month, Wang’s financial losses will mount. Even with a new owner, even with a new building deal in place, and let assume a new GM and coach — do the fans come back? I suppose only winning will bring them in, but none of that is a guarantee even with new ownership or management.

2) The Owner: Charles Wang failed in his one key job — getting the Lighthouse approved. How that happened is a long story, but his failure to get the Town of Hempstead on Board, and then compounding that failure with countless other PR nightmares, and the deafening silence shakes my belief the team can succeed with a hockey ignorant but meddling owner. I seriously doubt the team can manage any success with this owner — at all.

3) The GM: Snow has, on paper drafted reasonably well. Other then Tavares, there has not been the Crosby or Ovechkin like generational talent waiting for him. There have not been any big “gaffs” like when Milbury left Heatley or Gaborik, or Parise sitting on the board. But I wonder if Snow might be relying far to much on young players. I was disquieted by the lack of the use of the cap space the Islanders have in acquiring players from teams like the Blackhawks, Bruins, Flames and Flyers. He pulled off the deal for Wisniewski, but what about players like Versteeg and Byfuglin.

SCOTT:
1: Stigma (From Spano to the Gorden’s Fisherman Jerseys to now all this Lighthouse brouhaha; the Islanders have had a plethora of negative attention since their last respectable run back in 93′)

2: Facility (No explanation needed. I’d rather watch a game in Bridgeport)

3: Marketing (seems to me the Islanders media department have always been vastly out of touch, much like the NHL marketing, in general)

7) Should have Garth Snow gone with a NHL coach right away or before this season’s end or continue with Jack Capauno?

RUSS:
I think Garth Snow made the right decision here. See what Capauno can do, and if they still have a bad season they can get another coach next year but you have to give a chance to coaches from within the organization and the Islanders did that.

DOMINIK:
I’d answer that the same as I do with free agents: Sure, the right free agent would be great, but would he come to Long Island? I don’t think Ken Hitchcock is the right guy, but even if he was, would he come or would he do a Quenneville? The hot junior/minor head coaches may take convincing to walk into this mess mid-season. So the right NHL coach would be preferred, but I don’t see the right NHL coach who is available right now. The Isles just need the right coach, period — and it remains to be seen whether Capuano can be that guy short- or long-term.

JESS:
Some would argue that Snow did not have a NHL coach when he fired Gordon, promoting Capauno IMO was a mistake when you stuck him with the “interim” tag. Want an “interim” then you promote one of the assistants. You either believe in Capauno and make him the coach or you don’t.

What happens if when you finally get most of your injured back and you are still not winning? Going to fire Capauno? Keeping Gordon as a “Special Advisor” is also a sign of a franchise that does not have direction.

NICK:
Jack Capuano seems like a nice person but he was not the answer in this case. I’m of the belief that if you’re going to make a change you need to get it done as quickly as possible to help the team coalesce around its new identity. Scott Gordon had issues with the media and seemed a broken man toward the end, but I disagreed with the decision to fire him when an experienced NHL coach wasn’t ready to step in.

TROTS:
He should have kept the NHL coach he had. Just another easy diversion, the latest whipping boy for Wang’s failures. I believe that Snow is just a pawn in the game.

CHRIS TMC:

It’s tough for me to answer this question because I think he should have stuck with Gordon. Its unbelievable how unlucky this guy was- he never once had a healthy team- ever! He signed on for a long-term rebuild, was given a rebuild roster sans vet assistance anywhere in the top 6, and then takes the fall for that. It’s really a shame. But if they (Snow? Charles?) wanted to get rid of Gordon, I think they should have taken their time and found someone permanent. Its not like I dislike Capuano (I don’t) but that’s just how I feel. When I see how Gordon was ultimately treated, I think back to Ted Nolan NOT wanting to coach through a full rebuild… and I can at least understand a bit more why he felt that way.

MATTY:
I would’ve kept Capuano in Bridgeport, where he was doing just fine, and promoted an assistant like Allen or Chynoweth.

TONY:
I understand why he brought up Capuano, but he needs to bring in his new permanent coach before season’s end. I wrote that Bob Hartley would be the perfect guy considering he and Snow have a relationship already and he can kick some ass in the locker room. If it is indeed Hartley, he’ll need to evaluate what he has, before the season is over to know before training camp and it’s too late to make roster changes.

ANDRE:
This is another tough one. The competitive side of me wants to see an NHL coach brought in immediately. But there is a side of me that does want that first overall draft choice again. The prospect of drafting Sean Couturier, a play-making Left Wing for John Tavares is very juicy! This is a guy that fits every single need the Islanders are desperate for. He is big at 6’4″, he plays left wing (that is how he is listed) scores goals, gets tons of assists and plays a two-way game. Despite this, I have to wonder how the constant losing effects the players I already have. In the end – no matter how much I would love to see Couturier in blue and orange, I bring in a new coach right now. Capuano is a good guy, but he is not an NHL coach. We need to get the line combos right, get healthy, and bring in new systems as soon as possible. A culture shock is required and Capuano is the old regime. Bob Hartley would be my choice.

SCOTT:

Is Sparky the Dragon available?

8) How much has the current slew of Islanders stories affected your perception of the team as compared to the start of the season. Do you see the Isles more negatively or positively due to those pieces? Did those pieces present anything that you or others might not have known?

RUSS:
I have to say that it hasn’t helped. I think they have been too reactive.

DOMINIK:
It’s made me more aware of the pent-up frustration among even patient fans. It’s made me see how a really bad month can sour people on a 3-5 year process. Sadly, I can’t say the stories presented anything I didn’t know: It’s all simplified rehash of the same stuff for the same general audience who doesn’t care for context. Worse, the Times piece presented things I knew to be wrong or completely devoid of context.

NICK:
The season of partially accurate hit pieces on the Isles to cheaply fill up media space happened sooner than I thought. It’s become such a tired act for me; we should make Mad Libs or some kind of flow chart detailing these hit pieces because they all follow the same formula and dredge up the same exact things. I’m tired of it and if makes me lose respect for the outlet.

TROTS:
The recent Isles news affect my opinion not one bit (and it should not be exaggerated). The news simply validates my long-held perception of how the franchise is run, and the abject fraudulence of the person at the top.

CHRIS TMC:

There has been a lot of crap published lately when it comes to this team. But its not like it all been lies, its about HOW things are presented. I think the Isles are an easy target to begin with- and with their horrible record this season it’s made it that much easier to churn out articles shooting down the team in every way imaginable. But aside from that, there are two things that bothers me about them: One, pretty much everything in these articles is rehashed- no new insights, ideas, just churning out the same things again and again. Two, I think that a number of these stories have been blatantly agenda driven in both their timing and their content- and are not the objective, independently researched articles they are presented as being. That is really unfortunate.

MATTY:

It’s all been tremendously disheartening.  My entire faith in any coherence and commitment from ownership has been totally shattered.  I’m still shell-shocked.  I now begrudgingly have to side with the curmudgeons, naysayers, and lunatics who decried what seemed like a pretty good plan given the circumstances when Snow took over.  Everything they said about Wang– and, apparently, Snow– was right.

TONY:
The Islanders problem is they refuse to defend themselves in the media. Therefore everything they do looks like they don’t know what they are doing. I do believe that Charles care’s about this team and is adamant about keeping it in Nassau County, but has to keep his mouth shut since they continually string him along promising a new building (the same one he’s waiting for the last 10 years). Charles needs to get himself in front of the cameras and the fans and explain what the hell is going on and where he intends to go from here.

ANDRE:
There is no question the losing is going to affect everything about my perception of the team. But the poor decisions by the owner, paranoia about bad press are compounded with more bad decisions and followed with a lack of PR. It surprises me that Charles Wang ran Computer Associates. Perhaps he should have stuck with that venture. This is not a tech firm. I see the franchise as more of a punch line today then ever before.

SCOTT:

I know that Chris Botta was forced out, yet I couldn’t tell you who is the Islanders’ third line. Islanders marketing needs to uproot their collective heads from their own hindquarters.

9) What do you think is the largest contributing factor to why fans aren’t coming out to games this season?

A) Higher ticket prices
B) Scott Gordon fired
C) Standings
D) Lighthouse Project limbo
E) Ryan Jankowski not re-upped
F) Isles Cupcakes
G) Write in your own ___________________________

RUSS:
I think the ticket prices are a big part of it. Long Island fans will pay higher prices if the team was really good. That’s the way it is. I had a friend go recently and he lost out on a chance to get $40 dollar tickets and had to pay $50. I think that’s too much based on the product on the ice.

DOMINIK:
A and C, but mostly C. People don’t support basement teams. When teams rebound, fans eventually return.

NICK:
Cupcake Gourmet is amazing so it’d better not be the damn cupcakes!

In all seriousness, higher ticket prices are to blame. With no marquee acquisition and the economy in the dumps, it seemed very bad business to do that. It’s alienated the season ticket holders, who know have no incentive to buy packages given the deep discounts. This in turn depresses ticket sales on certain days.

TROTS:
“C” followed closely by “A”. Haven’t tried the cupcakes.

CHRIS TMC:
My gut says that it is C… that’s why things are as bad as they are now. But even in the first 8 games of the season (when things looked pretty good) the attendance was not outstanding by any means… so I think A is a HUGE factor in this as well. I am going to far fewer games myself… my reason is A, and I know I am not alone. I guess I have to say its is both of them more than anything else.

MATTY:

Out of the ones you listed, it’s the arena.  Why?  It reflects that ownership does not care about the fans.  You read my letter to Isles management before the season started.  I stick by every word of it.

TONY:

3 things….ticket prices, lack of communication and finally, the fans are tired of coming out and watching a bunch of minor league players try to keep up with the likes of the Washington’s and Pittsburgh’s or the league. Sim, Hunter, Parenteau, Comeau, Gervais and Hillen isn’t going to be able to keep up with Washington’s OV, Semin, Backstrom, Green and Knuble, and might I add that if Michael Grabner (who might I add may be our best player at this point) hadn’t been gifted to us by Florida’s Dale Tallon, Andy Hilbert would have been on the opening night roster.

ANDRE:

I think it is all of the above. Losing is the biggest reason. No one wants to spend $200-$300 to watch the team lose again! Jankowski, Trottier, Jaffe, firing the coach, the injuries, the Lighthouse….all of it!

SCOTT:

C) Standings

10) Do you see Charles Wang selling the team or moving this team coming 2015?

RUSS:
I think they will be moved. As I said many times last season I feel like Queens is now their best option.

DOMINIK:
I’ve never been good at predicting Wang’s actions. Don’t even know how much the man is really worth. The best thing I can say is that I still wouldn’t bet on this team leaving the metro area.

NICK:
I hate to be a consultant here, but it depends. I don’t think Charles Wang is inclined to sell, and despite some fans whining I don’t think he doesn’t care about the Islanders. However, his patience is not infinite, and the cold hard truth is that the team currently doesn’t have a home after 2015.

CHRIS TMC:
No to the selling, and there are a few significant reasons why- Neulion for one (which makes Charles Wang and his wife more significant to the NHL than most people realize) and the fact that I think the guy genuinely does care about this team. If he didn’t, why spend millions on the players areas and ice surface quality and not even tell everyone about it? It just doesn’t make sense. As for moving the team, that is definitely possible. But when you consider the teams cable contract, which goes on for decades more, it stands to reason that the Isles would not be moving out of their current cable area.

MATTY:

I see him selling or moving earlier than that, personally.  But he’s a horrible businessman, so who knows?

TONY:

I do not see him selling now since the franchise is worth a fraction of what he paid for it (not to mention the $250 million he’s lost on the team). I can see the concerts and parking helping a little bit but as I said, it would make no sense for him to sell now. He’ll probably wait out this Shinnecock Casino talk, though I highly doubt that’ll happen (like the Lighthouse it makes too much sense).

ANDRE:

No. I think Wang is going to be here at least until 2015. The team will remain in Uniondale until 2015, but that could be the final season in Uniondale. He may finally do what he should be doing — looking at another venue outside of the Town of Hempstead for an arena.

SCOTT:

Hard to say, but I can’t see things continuing as they are.

11) Does it bother you that bloggers big and small are removed, or do you think that teams should have that right?  Does it bother you that stories about the Isles are now being written by the Media department and listed as “News”? What is the ultimate effect does this have on blogs and fan?. Do teams have a responsibility to provide independent news or is does it not matter?


(BD note: Katrina used to work for Newsday and is a good writer. Kimber was an amazing writer when he worked at Bridgeport. So it’s not about skill, but what role they play when they also wear the Media/PR hats)

RUSS:
Listen, the team can do whatever they want but I’m not in favor of removing writers because they are reporting to the fans to keep them updated on their favorite team. Other teams have writers who get paid by the team so that’s not shocking to me.

DOMINIK:
Teams do have that right — to me this isn’t a “team vs. blogger” issue but rather a “team vs. media” issue. They’re clearly open to bloggers. However, the merits of removal I can’t say without knowing the dirty details of what transpired. I argued that credential-removal would be my absolute last resort if I were in control, and would be preceded by behind-closed-doors shouting matches. (Again, I don’t know whether or not that transpired, as only one side is addressing the matter.) When I was in PR, we always went that route before freezing an unreasonable scribe out. The backlash from media when one of their own was tossed is predictable and, I hope, anticipated.

As for team-produced news, sadly it’s unavoidable in this dispersed multi-channel age. The club simply can’t count on a single entity outside of Newsday (cough) to show up and report thoroughly on every game. I would say teams should do what the Kings did with Hammond, but the reality is that’s always going to create a conflict, even with someone as great as Hammond (e.g. What happens when things go poorly, or a new management comes in?). That’s why I’ve called for several years for the NHL to do what MLB did: Create a separate entity with independent beatwriters whose coverage is solely for the MLB team sites. Unfortunately, even if the league were that imaginative, I fear the huge disparity between U.S. and Canadian markets may be an obstacle to that. U.S. teams desperately need it, whereas Canadian teams may say they’ve got plenty to deal with already, thanks.

JESS:
Guess being independent of any team, gives me more freedom since I really do not have to answer to any NHL team and other than the NHL draft the NHL itself. The problem of course remains largely with the PHWA as while they came to the aid of Chris Botta (and I admit I am no fan of his work) but they have been stalling on a national policy for bloggers. How can the NHL address bloggers when the supposed MSM media (PHWA) can not come up with a working solution after 10 years or in several cases allows their membership to trash on bloggers.

I may not like it but a team should have some say in who they grant access to their press box and players as long as the PHWA does not have a policy in place that addresses bloggers.

Still the bigger question should be whether news on a team website should be viewed as actual “news”. Like it or not, the goal of the team website is to sell the Islander product and hockey as a whole. What they pass off as news could seriously be considered like an ‘infomercial” since at the end of each “article” is a sales pitch. Still if a team employee is producing a “news” article they should ID themselves as a team employee.

Other NHL teams have been doing it for years so it is really nothing new that the Islanders have become like the rest of the NHL in controlling the content on their own website.

It should have no effect at all as long as both bloggers and fans accept that NewYorkIslanders.com’ number one goal is to sell you on the team and it’s related products. Fans will know which blogger to take seriously and who to not based on the blogger’s own actions/reports.

Teams should not be expected to provide independent news since the goal is to sell the fan on their product. Give the fans credit as they will now a shill job from a real news report.

NICK:

I believe the high profile blogger in question who started this kerfuffle actively manipulated his readers and is a major contributor to the current state of the fan base.That having been said, I believe the team’s actions are wrong. They did if to me, they did it to you, BD, they did it to Billy Jaffe, and we won’t be the last. It’s one thing to say you want independence, but they seem to not like it when we actually act independent. Regardless of their reasons in the recent case, which at least should’ve been a warning first, the Islanders stepped in it here. It reinforces the Mickey Mouse image that in many cases doesnt apply but in many more does.

TROTS:
Yes and yes. It speaks volumes to the amaturism of the franchise and, moreover, a pathetic case of insecurity.

If a public business has any integrity, it absolutely does have a responsbility to encourage independent and critical thought. But if you can control criticism, as NYI is trying to do, you can lessen (eliminate) any pressure to change. That is Wang’s M.O., make no mistake.

CHRIS TMC:

I do not believe that the Islanders are in a position to turn away anyone who wants to dedicate their time and effort to covering this team. I will come right out and say it- IMO they have definitely handled this Chris Botta situation in the wrong way. If they decided they do not want him to be the primary pro blogger for this team, they are certainly allowed to come to that decision. But they should first accept that he IS a source of news for a large number of Islanders fans. Their decision to cut him off without offering ANY equivalent alternative was an error on their part. If that was how they felt, they could have hired another pro team blogger. I thought that they might move that way when they were first doing “Islanders Authorized” on the official site, but they unfortunately seem to have abandoned that instead of expanding on it. If they had hired another paid professional blogger, sure people who prefer Chris would be upset- and they would certainly have the right to say to- but at least fans in general would not feel so cut off from the team they love. Part of being a professional organization is letting the media roll off your back. Its seems like the Islanders want to control the media to an extent that no other professional organization would even be able to imagine.

I don’t think the Islanders have a responsibility or an obligation to do much of anything media-wise, other than to be accessible to those electing to cover the team. However, I think that it would be a wise move for them to make an effort to be more accessible- rather than respond with continued silence and both proverbial and literal closed doors. Its never easy to face the media when there are as many things going wrong as there are right now… but I think the alternative is ultimately far more difficult to deal with.

MATTY:

It’s highly, highly disturbing that they can even get away with it.  It’s awful.  I blame Bettman for that one, because he’s supposed to step in and cease these types of practices.  The civil libertarian analog of this deplorable situation– the idea that there should be some sort of freedom of the press when the team is governed by an umbrella organization that’s supposed to be dedicated to its customers– is dead-on from where I’m sitting.  What’s to stop every NHL team from deciding that bloggers can only gain access if they’ll sugar-coat everything? Does fan uproar not matter at all?It speaks to a larger issue: that commissioners in all sports are slowly losing sight of the idea that they exist for the pleasure and entertainment of their fans.  Money did a ton of negative things to all of the major North American professional sports, but perhaps the worst was the introduction of a serious disconnect between the people on the inside and the people on the outside.  Many of the players, even in a famously down-to-earth sport like hockey, entirely lose touch with the concept that the fans are responsible for their paycheck.  But I guess that’s a different discussion entirely.

TONY:

I believe the team does have the right to make decision’s about who they allow coverage to. For bloggers, (at this point in time) it’s a privilege to be granted access not a requirement. I do believe the team needs to be responsible about how it goes about choosing who it does or doesn’t allow access to (as not to punish someone for telling the truth, whether it’s pleasant or not). As for team’s media department publishing stories about the team, if your looking for an objective story on a team….chances are you’re not going to be looking on that team’s website for it.

ANDRE:

Part of the 1st amendment of the country is freedom of press. Mr. Wang and Mr. Snow are experiencing some kind of paranoia to pull credentials of a reporter or blogger. Despite that, the New York Islanders are a privately owned business that serves a customer base. Under that premise — the team has some rights. It is bothersome, petty of the franchise and small-minded. It is one more of those things mentioned above. I read nothing of the “news” off the team website. It is going to be skewed and one sided. Ultimately, the management of the franchise needs to get a grip on reality — the team is performing badly, and there are several issues off the ice. A proper decision-making structure, and professional administrative behavior would solve most of the off ice issues. The lack of good “politicking” is sinking the team further and further into indifference. Pulling the creds of a blogger/report is just one more thing!

SCOTT:

Anyone who believes anything from a teams’ own media department deserves to be misinformed. Politics, private agendas and news have always been intertwined since the William Randolph Hearst days, nothing new there.the Islanders Media Department should be more worried about ticket sales and winning a game or two than what bloggers are saying.


12) Do you see any hope with the Lighthouse Project? Who is to blame for it’s current status?

RUSS:
I was told the Lighthouse was dead last year and reported it on XM radio. Can it be revived? I guess anything is possible but I don’t expect that to happen. I think Mr. Wang should have revised the project and made it less costly considering the bad economy.

DOMINIK:
Not a chance as I understand it, but it’s far from my expertise. I guess Murray is villain #1 because it’s unclear to me if she would have stood for any version, and her lack of imagination is simply breath-taking. But I also don’t know how willing Wang was to compromise and which of his misreads of Murray were fatal, nor which other sympathetic politicians might have been culpable in its failure. No one looks good in that situation, though it’s played out as those who know L.I. politics best always told me it would.

NICK:

The Lighthouse Project needs a miracle. Kate Murray and her visionless sheep in the Town of Hempstead started us down this road by never taking the proposal seriously, but there is enough blame to go around. Right now, Charles Wang is the most responsible for the current state because his silence has led him to lose control of the conversation. Opponents and misinformed people with an agenda are allowed to speak unchecked, and the support base, always too reliant on Isles fans, has fractured and gone to infighting.

We could do something amazing here. I want to believe, even though I see little reason right now.

TROTS:

I’m sure there are mulitple culprits. The point is, Wang has used the LHP as the excuse behind everything the franchise has and has not done over the last decade+ to improve the product on the ice. Increasingly, more people are wising up to this point.

CHRIS TMC:

The Lighthouse Project. I still believe it is exactly what Long Island needs. But the Town of Hempstead is simply too enthralled with the status quo… and the notion of someone essentially donating a few hundred million dollars to fix up part of their jurisdiction without giving him any way to make that money back. Incidentally, do not fault Charles Wang for wanting to make money- there will not be a team owner who doesnt. If I had to pick who to blame for its current status it would have to be the politicians who are pulling the strings behind people like Kate Murray and Anthony Santino. Ultimately that area WILL be built up, and it will be more like the Lighthouse Project than it will be unlike it. The only thing that is holding it up now is that there are powerful people who do not want someone like Charles Wang to be the one who makes the money from doing it.

MATTY:

I see no hope or future for it, and I primarily blame Charles Wang.  It’s easy to take potshots at Kate Murray, but these politicians are corrupt to the core.  Wang didn’t play the game properly.  That’s on him. While my family did not have the privilege of growing up fabulously wealthy and powerful, we did get glimpses into that world because some of them were clients of our business.  I can confirm the obvious: the right amount of money and favors can get you anything on Long Island if you know what you’re doing.  Wang came into this with billions of dollars and crucial alliances.  He had to know he was responsible for greasing the palms of both political parties and several other grassroots organizations.If Wang was a visionary and a problem-solver like he claimed he was, then he would’ve found a way to get this thing done.  Somehow, with overwhelming popular support, the backing of a rabidly insane cult of a fan base, unlimited funds, an alliance with one of Long Island’s most powerful real estate honchos, tremendous goodwill from monster hospital contributions and community efforts, a foothold in the region (especially in the Town of Oyster Bay), and (recently) an economy that begged for an infusion of private investment this large, he still managed to screw it up.

If you’ve done your research, you know how Charles Wang got to where he is, and that’s because two hackneyed mantras held true.  First and foremost, behind every great fortune is a great crime.  Second, shoot first and ask questions last.  When Wang was faced with the choice of (a) making a mess to save his own skin or (b) exhibiting some semblance of personal responsibility, he always chose (a).  It rocketed him to the top and eventually precipitated the steady downfall he’s now experiencing.  It’s just a shame that the Isles have to be a part of it.

TONY:

No hope whatsoever. The Nassau County policitians are solely to blame for this mess. There was never a chance the Town had any intention to let this project happen. Corruption has been a staple of Long Island politics for decades…..nothing has changed.

ANDRE:

No, the project is dead in the way it was conceived. I put a big chunk of the blame on Charles Wang. He came to the dance without a clue about the proper political landscape. He “played” the County for support when he should have been making the backroom deal with Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead. County support was important, but you must know how to play the small minded politics of Long Island. The other blame has to fall on the management in the Town of Hempstead. Their small minded, protect their own political turf values were a big reason the plan would never go through. The silence currently employed by Charles Wang compounds the errors made during the entire “negotiating” process. Charles Wang can give the fans — his customers — a real shot in the arm if he just makes a decision and makes it known to the populous. To me, he has three choices. 1) Either he lets the proverbial “shit” roll off his back and accepts the Hempstead “plan” and ends up with a new arena and 1/3 of his desired plan. 2) He cuts a deal with Queens and works with the Wilpons for a new “Lighthouse” in Willits Point 3) He sells the team and makes it someone else’s problem.  Ultimately, I would like to see Charles Wang out of the New York Islanders picture — even if that means the franchise moves. What good are the Islanders if they will never succeed with this owner?

SCOTT:

Nope, and I think it’s a shame.Charles Wang, LI politics and the Town of Garden City.


13) PARTING THOUGHTS…

((this will be added to as they come in…))

NICK:

This battered fan woe is me bullshit is getting old. The “fans” talk about how passionate they are, yet they seem to go out of their way to find excuses to not go to games or dwell on the negative. I’m also frustrated by the need to tie the current owner and GM to previous owners and GM’s.At some point we need to show real support, because you start to wonder if a fan base like this deserves an NHL team.

CHRIS TMC:

The Islanders are my team, they are our team. I wish that there was more intelligent discussion regarding the Islanders- I can only hope that winning will lead to that. I think that we will have a wait for that to happen, but IMO having hope for the future and what this team will accomplish is what makes one bleed blue and orange.

ANDRE:
Thanks to BD and Hockey Indy for doing this round table. Lots of diverse and compelling insight from a number of sources.  I am a fan of the New York Islanders, and will remain so even with this owner — who deserves a large bulk of the blame for the teams current troubles. Regardless that I would like to see the team in different hands, there is little doubt I would continue to follow the team. I’ll go to games when I can — but it is not like I can go as a season ticket holder, or even a few times a week — not at these prices. I am one of those guys being priced out. I still can’t imagine that this owner ran a successful business. There is little doubt I consider that he is treating his customer (us) poorly. This does not absolve others. From the Town of Hempstead right through to the GM, coaches and players themselves. Ultimately, things have to change, and I am sure most fans hope they do. This is a viable hockey market. But with a team this poor, you could be in Quebec, or Winnipeg, Hartford or Oakland — all cities that had teams — and it would not make one shred of difference. Fans are going to stay away because watching your team lose on any given night is a bad way to spend your hard earned money.

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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. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Bucholtz and BDGallof, Red Wings News Feed. Red Wings News Feed said: #RedWings DIRE STRAITS ON LONG ISLAND – Is The Latest News Reason To Hit Panic Button? A… http://19FTW.in/9wgmR via @HockeyIndie Red Wings [...]

  2. Stephen says:

    Good discussion. Still I have the feeling of a loved one leaving the hospital after seeing a very sick relative and trying to be supportive. I’m depressed and hoping for a miracle.

  3. [...] DIRE STRAITS ON LONG ISLAND – Is The Latest News Reason To Hit Panic Button?| Hockey Independe…A pack of Islanders bloggers discuss the state of that franchise. The sky isn’t falling in Long Island, it’s fallen. [...]

  4. Hockey1919 says:

    The Coliseum may be a cesspool, but the one thing it is not, is a bad place to watch a hockey game. It has some of the best site lines of any arena and without the luxury boxes you actually are much closer to the action. Now if you want jumbo TV screens, rat feces in your food, substandard ice conditions that’ll cause you to break a leg, asbestos falling on your head and all of the other elements not related to actually watching a hockey game then there are other places to go that I can suggest.

    PS
    The Dinosaur is no worse than a fat dancing jackass.

  5. NHL fan says:

    Overall this is a great read about the team and how things are run. The only part that I don’t agree with is is Nick’s parting thoughts. This team has been shown more than enough real support. How much positive news has come out of this organization since Bates goal? In this year alone there has been the firing of Trottier, Jankowski,Jaffe and Gordon. Botta has been banned and each game we are stuck listening to Butch Goring. And on top of that ticket prices have been raised in a down economy. Wang and Snow are in witness protection. They do nothing to make any fan want to go watch this team.

  6. [...] Blame can go around, but always best to really give an objective take and stance. How? I invited some highly respected Isles and non-Isles blokes to join us for a blogger roundtable of sorts to gauge particulars about the season, situation and the bigger picture. Here’s a link to our first go round. [...]

  7. Jamie Fraser says:

    Great question and answers. Islanders without Okposo an Streit is a big loss. I’m not really sure why send down Bailey to AHL. Snow & Wang need to get this team on track with the lighthouse development and bringing in some role models.
    Lets just hope the damage can be fixed.

  8. mrlbem says:

    Nick,

    I’ve always been a fan of and posted positive comments on your blog. So I have no ax to grind. But your parting comment is totally out of line. As a STH, I can unequivically say that this owner and his “management team” of Snow and former CA hacks have forfeited any benefit of the doubt regarding anything. My kids don’t want to go to games anymore and you can’t give the tickets away. Like many fans, I was behind the rebuild, but there has to be improvement and the kids need to be better developed or nurtured with a couple of good, young veterans. Having a Director of Scouting and Player Development would help, too. This owner and his puppet GM should be ashamed of themselves. And in my view, anyone who defends them or has the gall to criticize the fans, especially the STH’s, for being negative is acting as an enabler for this POS owner and his hapless puppet GM.

  9. BattFist says:

    Ive been attending Islanders games since ’82. Thus I have every right as a fan to be upset at the management of the NY Islanders. Nick-whats your point of calling out fans?!! Huh? Maybe Botta stirred the pot but your indifferences with him shouldnt trickle down to the average fan. This team stinks…period. I can smell it from Brooklyn. But that doesnt mean I dnt believe in the youth movement. I still wear my Isles jersey out. I still try my hardest to defend this franchise. Lets face it-at this moment-this team has no direction. Young talent-for sure. But who’s guiding them? Guys like Nick and BD need to get off their high horse.

    • BDGallof says:

      There seems to be some element of oversensitivity to opinions that tell ((some)) fans ((vocal self-deluded minority)) to grow up. I’ve been saying it for over 4 years as a blogger, and back on HFBoards since 2002.

      Add to this we all were very critical of the organization in this, previous and ongoing. I have laid the org out time and time again, Garth over trade deadline failures and so on.

      Fans have every right to be upset. they just don’t need to leap like lemmings off a cliff or at someone elses words or issues….which is the point trying to be made.

      Woah Trigger!!!!

      Giddyup!!!

      • Isles27 says:

        “This battered fan woe is me bullshit is getting old. The “fans” talk about how passionate they are, yet they seem to go out of their way to find excuses to not go to games or dwell on the negative. I’m also frustrated by the need to tie the current owner and GM to previous owners and GM’s.At some point we need to show real support, because you start to wonder if a fan base like this deserves an NHL team.” The gullible naive Nick is knocking fans for not showing up and paying good money to watch this garbage that Wang/Snow has assembled, don’t try and spin it into something else Gallof. It sure as hell matters that this organization will go 18 YEARS without a playoff round victory and Wang will have owned the team for 11 of those years. We can all read and comprehend what Nick wrote. This is the same Nick who marched with Wang and went to community board meetings to speak up for Wang. Some people need to do some research on Wang (a few from your “esteemed group” for starters)before they follow him around like a lap dog and make him out to be some kind of Robin Hood or Mother Theresa. Also as someone who has followed the Isles since the mid 70′s I don’t need some gullible naive 20 something year old with no street smarts to tell me what I should be doing with my money and what neighborhood projects I should support and who I should vote for.