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.
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?”
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.
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