Why Was John Tavares Holding His Head in His Hands?

For the 9,000 or so fans in attendance (way below the average of 13,000 that they had when they were a winning team), the debacle that was the 6-4 loss at the hands of the not that good Carolina Hurricanes had a few unusual moments. The Islanders scored 4 power play goals and lost. That hasn’t happened since Carter was president. They also gave up 6 even strength goals. That often happens when the goalie is Rickety DiPietro. Seeing Josh Bailey on the wing of John Tavares was certainly unusual, but hey, Josh is a nice guy. However, the most unusual moment of the game came at the end.

Jesus was 5 years a bad idea….


As the clock ran down, there sat John Tavares, head in his hands. We get that he’s a pro athlete and a millionaire and whatnot, but here was a 22 year old young man showing real emotion live on television. It wasn’t some scripted PR stunt; it’s wasn’t cliché answers to interview questions. It was the anguish of a person who has been successful his whole life based on innate talent and a superior work ethic realizing that, no matter how hard he worked, no matter how much burden he shouldered, he couldn’t fix this mess. He had an epiphany right there in front of us all, and it was painful.


In that moment, as fans and as people, we truly felt bad for him.


As writers and thinkers, we started to speculate as to what was going on in his head.


Was he thinking ” This team has an incomplete roster, a head coach with no system, an inept GM, and Rodney Dangerfield’s friend from Caddy Shack as its owner. How can I really expect to win in this environment?”


For the past month we have written articles partially based on opinion but clearly based on the reality that has been the Islanders since this rebuild began. Bottom line, they are not committed to winning.  You can talk about rebuilding via a draft, you can talk about finding Matt Moulson, you can say Tavares is awesome (which he is) The truth is that the franchise is a joke that not only ignores and spits in the face of its players and its loyal to a fault fan base.

Maybe Tavares was thinking something along these lines: ” Our defense is a minus every year. We never score consistently and rarely get timely goals. We have FDR for a goalie making ten percent of our pay roll. Jack Capuano has zero in game strategy which ruins any possible third period lead we may have. Garth Snows is an inable to make a trade unless it is for mid round draft picks. Snow signed Joe Finely and Matt Hickey instead of utilizing Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness, which he acquired with his coveted draft picks. Kyle Okposo looks more like Brett Lindros than Jerome Iginla. Frans Nielson doesn’t come close to resembling the Jordan Stall that some announcers think he can be. This team lacks size and toughness. Guys on the defense look more like Proctor accidentally backing into the Blue Oyster Bar than individuals playing a position. The coaches don’t understand that by laying down on the ice to block a shot makes the defense unable to make an outlet pass or defend a man.”

Or maybe Tavares was thinking “The problem starts at the top.  Even with strings pulled tighter than Ellen Barkens face, Wang doesn’t hold Snow accountable on how he spent $38 million on the team this season.  If Garth drafted talented players, then those players would be contributing.  If mastermind Snow drafted well over the last 6 years, why is Thomas Hickey on this team?  Keith Aucoin? Joe Finley? Eric Boulton? If they had their eyes on Brian Strait for years, as Doug Weight said, why didn’t they offer Pittsburgh a 6th round pick for him 2 years ago?  Why do I still not have a real offensive second line center playing behind me? Why is the only player taken in the first ten picks of the 2011 draft that isn’t in the NHL named Ryan Strome? Why did they not pay PA Parenteau AND add Brad Boyes? Why don’t they want to help me win?”

It happens every year. We’re used to more of the same…

Here’s one thing we pray he wasn’t thinking: “I think I’m going to ask out of this mess.”


The weaknesses of this team go on and on.  Truthfully, many teams have the same issues through a season.  Here’s the million-dollar question: What do those teams have that the Islanders lack?  Other well-run teams have an intangible.  It is called accountability.  The Isles love to toss around attributes that are immeasurable like commitment, puck awareness, puck decisions, hockey sense, and latest and greatest, compete level.  Don’t even get us started on that. Here’s something VERY measurable- accountability. Create some accountability and it will fix all of the above and more.


On good teams, when guys underperform they are traded, released, or sent into a different league.  When coaches lose they are fired.   When GM’s stand pat and trade or not trade assets to improve a team, they are fired. Columbus’s team president just fired their GM of 6 years. What year is this for Snow? And do we even have a team president? When top 5 draft picks look more like jokes from a top 10 list they are released.  This magical thing called accountability is what has been lacking from this organization since Wang took over.   It started with Milbury going crazy with no set vision for a team, drafting DP for no reason, the contract for Yashin, the “committee,” Snow as most qualified GM candidate, the contract for DP, Josh Bailey, bad AHL coach Scott Gordon, bad AHL coach Jack Capuano, recycled assistants, vanishing front offices, everyone gets two jobs for the price of one, volunteers at the doors on game days because they work for free…its comical.  Don’t just look at this year either.  What changes has this team really made in this rebuild? Replacing former AHL coaches with present AHL coaches?  It’s all recycled garbage.  Until the GM, coaching staff and players are held accountable, expect more of the same.

Thanks to SetveDepot at Islandermania.com for the pictures that made us laugh.

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Filed Under: Carolina HurricanesColorado AvalancheDetroit Red WingsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersNHLNHL TeamsPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh Penguins


About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely

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  1. Jethro09 says:

    Scathing assessment, but unfortunately spot on. The fish rots from the head. Until CW sells or hires a true hockey person to serve as team president and gives that person full autonomy, this team will not win. There is no pressure to win on the islanders, no pressure to produce. Nobody job is ever in jeopardy. It’s why nobody with a shred of credibility in the hockey world will come work for CW.

    Maybe we will all be blessed and CW will sell or at least take on an equal partner and someone else will come in and restore sanity to this organization. The rebuild sucks. It’s a dogs**t rebuild, yielding practically no results other than a deeper prospect pool than under Milbury. If things dont turn around in a hurry, JT is going to lose his mind and likely his patience with how things are done on the islanders.

    • MattandDan says:

      The only hope here is that Brooklyn yields about $90 million in revenue so that Wang can spend a true $45 mil on this team, pocket $45 mil, and claim losses. Until then, we’re not even hitting the cap floor. Just like now.

  2. KO21 says:

    This was a sad, sad moment and it was a long time coming. JT is a class act but at some point he will get pressure from his agent to ask for a trade. JT would have nothing to be ashamed about if he did. he deserves support and he’s not getting any.

    • MattandDan says:

      We hope it never comes to that, as JT is the best player this organization has had in over a decade. We’d get why he’d ask out, as winners hate being losers, but we hope it never comes to pass.

  3. Rob says:

    JT doesn’t seem like the type of player that will ask for a trade. He’s a classy guy and a winner who is committed to turning this franchise around and if he wasn’t then he wouldn’t have signed a long term deal to play here. That being said, its a shame we are throwing away his prime years with a lack of talent around him.

    Capuano has to go, and can they finally hire a coach with actual NHL experience!? The only reason they don’t is because AHL coaches are cheaper. So if Capuano goes, Weight or Thompson will replace him who don’t have coaching experience either…. its like a merry go round.

    Also, I don’t think Snow has done a bad job. He has no money to spend which is Wang’s fault. The comment about Strome being the only top 10 pick not in the NHL means nothing. He is only 19 years old and why would you want to rush him like Bailey and Nino? Also, Snow has been drafting for 4 years since 2008, not 6. You have to be patient when rebuilding through the draft because all of the players he drafted are 23 years old or younger. Strome, Nino, Reinhart, Donovan, and Nelson are top prospects that should all be in the NHL very soon and Snow’s drafting can be judged on their performance. After watching what Milbury did, I’m happy Snow hasn’t traded any prospects for the purpose of shaking things up.

    Onto Wang, I agree with you. I honestly think the guy wants to win and cares about this franchise but he is clueless as to how to run this organization. No accountability pretty much sums things up. Other teams make drastic changes after losing, just look at the Canadiens, and Wang does nothing. He surrounds himself with friends instead of winners, doesn’t spend money, consistently puts out a poor product, and runs the team like a circus (The Lafontaine banishing, DiPietro signing, and Neil Smith firing). I really hope he starts spending money and if not hopefully he sells the team.

    Good article, and as a die hard Islanders fan I can relate to your frustration. I also enjoy following your Josh Barely account on twitter and I look forward to Josh and KO lighting up the score sheet in meaningless games at the end of the season.

  4. Rob says:

    OH and the Les Miserables poster is hilarious.