Garth Snow Chooses to Fail at his Job

As been noted throughout hockey and Islanders media, the Islanders have made their version of a splash this past month, signing 4 NHL caliber free agents and last month agreeing to terms with a goalie that saw free agency looming and decided to not test the waters. Sounds awesome, right?

I'm doing it, boss!

I’m doing it, boss!

 

Well, it is and it isn’t. As we mentioned in our last piece, this offseason thus far is a C for taking care of the most glaring need, and a long term need. There are still two long term needs awaiting addressing: top pairing defenseman and top line wing. Not that we’re looking for Ryan Suter or Shea Weber to show up tomorrow, but a guy capable of logging 25 minutes and stopping others from scoring would be an overdue addition to the team.

 

But that’s not why we’re here. No, we’re here to defend a thesis that we put in February 2013 that was very controversial. In case you missed it here we postulated that Garth Snow fails in the NHL draft on purpose. People reacted with incredulity over such a comment. The Islanders made the playoffs that year, and people crowed that we were wrong, we suck, we’re blind, etc. And as the Islanders season ended 6 games later, we had these question:

Who were the key players on that team, and which were Garth Snow draft picks?

 

John Tavares was obviously the lynchpin to that team, and he was a consensus number one draft pick. There are rumors that Snow wanted Matt Duschene, but was overridden by Charles Wang in the 2009 draft. Regardless, Tavares was a consensus #1 overall pick 2 years before that draft class formed, so while he was chosen by Snow, it may have been the first case ever of a no brainer being a pick made under duress.

Kyle Okposo was a huge player in that series. He was a Neil Smith pick.

Evgeny Nabokov was the MVP for the Penguins. He is a Garth Snow pick, albeit not via draft, but by attrition. And on a contract offered by a different GM.

Frans Neilsen? A Mike Milbury leftover.

Josh Bailey made 3 passes to someone else who passed to Tavares to watch Tavares score. Not a goal on his own. So his impact was statistically equal to Keith Aucoin.

Bailey-biers?

Bailey-biers?

Travis Hamonic was busy watching his head spin when he wasn’t providing the Penguins a chance to use their lethal power play, the 7 goals in 6 games kind. He was -4 with 23 penalty minutes by the end of the series.

Jack Capuano showed his lack of courage by running Nabokov out between the pipes repeatedly despite the historic failing of Nabokov in the playoffs with San Jose, the superior numbers of Kevin Poulin in that playoff series, and the example set by Dan Blysma in benching his starter in games 5 and 6. Cappy is a Garth Snow kind of guy. From New England, and without much of a resume.

 

Still, at this point #IslesKoolAid was satisfied. The Islanders MADE the playoffs! That was surely enough! Plus, people have been raving about the Islanders prospect pool for years! Playoffs were a financial incentive for the owner to improve the team, and the team can promote from within to fill holes, especially with top 5 pick Ryan Strome and top 4 pick Griffin Reinhart waiting in the wings!

 

And with momentum from winning, and an allegedly deep prospect pool, Snow took a step backwards. A STEP BACKWARDS.

Rather than chase elite unrestricted free agents? Chase your own restricted free agents! Rather than improve in goal? Give the aging failing goalie a huge raise! 3 playoff assists for Keith Aucoin? Cut him. 3 playoff assists for Josh Bailey? A 300 percent raise! A top 5 offensively talented draft pick earned by failing for an entire season? Trade him for a 4th liner coming off of injuries…and give that guy a big raise! The July 2013 free agency period was an absolute debacle for Snow. Shameful management. The only way it could be outclassed? By adding shameful asset mismanagement into the mix.

From chains to gold chains! Chedda!

From chains to gold chains! Chedda!

As training camp approached for the 2013-2014 season, Ryan Strome was primed to make an NHL roster. A top 5 pick in the 2011 draft, he had seen most of his class on rosters the year before and was raring to go. Strome was averaging nearly 3 points a game in his last junior season, and the Islanders had a glaring need at second line center. And Ryan Strome was cut for the scary talent that was Peter Regin. Or maybe it was Pierre Marc Bouchard. We could understand if John Tavares was blocking your path to the NHL. But Bouchard? Regin?

If that’s not bad enough, top 4 pick in the 2012 draft Griffin Reinhart watched top 4 pick in the 2013 NHL draft Seth Jones walk right into the NHL, while Reinhart was held out of the league by the force that is Brian Strait, and the legend that is Radek Martinek.

These were two obvious and clear moves that would have improved the team, and they were totally overlooked by Snow, in one case even after injuries began to mount. Snow looked at his assets, saw they were NHL ready, and completely ignored that information in making decisions. By the way, when finally given 37 games, after a slow start Ryan Strome finished the NHL season at roughly .5 points per game. We wonder what may have been if Strome was on the team in the lockout year in place of Keith Aucoin, where he had those 37 games as a way to adapt to the league and play a full season in this past mess. We ask because Ryan Strome has the least amount of games played by any top ten pick in his draft.

We also wonder what would have been last season and for this upcoming season if Reinhart was on the last pair of the defense learning the game at an NHL pace, instead of winning awards playing amongst boys in the OHL and having to learn now.

Folks, there’s no point in developing a prospect pool if you’re afraid to use it.

Maybe 3 is magic number- drafted 3 years ago!

Maybe 3 is magic number- drafted 3 years ago!

#SnowBlowers and #IslesKoolAid may say “well, what about Matt Donovan? Calvin de Haan? How did they make the NHL?” Donovan arrived because Streit was traded- and because Donovan made entry level money. de Haan appeared due to injuries – usually his specialty- to much of the defensive corps. If no one gets hurt, we don’t even see de Haan.

And what about Brock Nelson- the other first round pick in the 2010 draft? Nelson has a nice season- 14 g, 12a – for a guy that had no defined role. And that’s really the best way to develop prospects: don’t define their role. Anyone expecting the Islanders to make huge strides with one of the least successful yet longest tenured coaches in the NHL is going to be waiting a long time. And to develop rookie talent? An even longer wait.

 

Rich Gedman eyes

Rich Gedman eyes

Which brings us to our next question – if Garth Snow isn’t firing Jack Capuano, thereby taking the heat off of Jack Capuano by saying the awful 2013-2014 season is Snow’s fault, isn’t what he’s really saying is “I am admitting that I am not good at my job”?  Let’s talk about the decision making process that allegedly happens in Snow’s head. The Islanders started the ’13-’14 season 4-4-3. That’s .500 hockey. Not world beating, but better than Capuano’s career average. So to shake up the team, Snow trades a fan favorite in Matt Moulson – who wasn’t a part of the teams plans going forward- for Thomas Vanek.

 

Understand that any GM looking at an annual 30 goal scorer that thinks “we have no need for this” is an absolute moron. What did Moulson want? $5 million a year, maybe less? What did Kulemin get to bring his 9 goals to the second line? Over $4 million. And Grabovski’s 20 goals are costing $5 million. We’re thinking a Strome – Moulson second line combo may have been more productive than Grabbo-Kules, but hey, anyone can armchair GM. Not everyone can think, however.

 

So, back to Vanek. Snow announced that the team needed to play better, and needed a change. And for the record, we were fine with trading for Vanek. Little did we know, and what Montreal showed us, is that to acquire a Vanek, you need not give up an NHL player. A weak prospect and a second round pick would have done just fine. And imagine having Vanek AND Moulson in the lineup? Instead, Snow ended up with neither. Moulson and Vanek even gave Snow second chances before signing in Buffalo and Minnesota, and Snow still shit the bed. To borrow from Geoff Tate, how many times must we live to see this tragedy?

Missing: top line forward, top pair defenseman...again

Missing: top line forward, top pair defenseman…again

If you look around sports, you’ll find that every league has a Garth Snow. Kind of. Let’s look at the NFL, NBA, and MLB to see who their Garth Snows are.

Martin Mayhew of the Detroit Lions started in 2008, and is the closest thing the NFL has to Garth Snow. Granted, when he started his rebuild it took 3 years to make the playoffs, which after 6 years Snow was still bumbling. Now, with 6 years into his management Detroit is starting to develop as an NFL contender, so if this is the closest comparison to Snow…well, Snow should have been fired.

In the NBA? Bryan Colangelo was named GM and President of the Toronto Raptors in 2006. In his first season they made the playoffs but lost in the first round. Colangelo was also named executive of the year in that season. Sound familiar? Where is he now? Unemployed. Fired in 2013.

Garth Snow’s most reliable sports GM matchup is ironically located in Kansas City, where a crowd of 3,000 wasn’t enough to sway Kate Murray to hand over the keys of the Lighthouse to Charles Wang’s threats to move the Islanders. Granted, you’d need a class 5 hurricane to sway Kate Murray’s fat ass. Dayton Moore, the general manager of the Kansas City Royals, was hired in 2006. Moore has led the Royals to this major achievement: the 2013 season, where the Royals finished with a winning record for the first time in a decade. A similarity with the Royals and the Islanders? Owners with very tight purse strings and a want to relocate that’s been hindered by their professional incompetence.

 

Now, the thing is, we don’t think Garth Snow is actually that stupid. We know. We’ve hung out with the guy. We’ve done shots with him. We’ve talked roster moves. We’ve seen the famous 3 blond harem picture. The guy can’t be a total dope, right? So if people are saying that he’s not stupid, and this is what he’s done to the Islanders, all we can surmise from this is that he’s doing it on purpose.

Beating a dead horse...

Beating a dead horse…

Reinforcing that point is that he’s FINALLY making a few moves now that the team is allegedly on the market in order to save his job. This means that he knew what moves he needed to make for this team, and has flat out refused to make them. Now, #SnowBlowers who excuse his poor performance by blaming Charles Wang? If that’s the case, Snow should have quit. Because maybe after his third year as GM, Snow had a shot at failing up to a better team. But now? Not a chance. He’s become a punchline to a joke around the NHL. He’s making people forget Mad Mike. Tire fire, folks, tire fire. At some point, even Daniel Friedman turned against Snow, which is like saying the reindeer turned on Santa.

 

After 8 years of Snow, suddenly not so bad

After 8 years of Snow, suddenly not so bad

So as we see Snow’s plan for the 2014-2015 season forming, we realize that he’s addressed some of the needs of his team, and that’s commendable. But Florida is going to have a fantastic defense this year to go along with their improved goaltending. Buffalo will be a harder team to play against thanks to their offseason moves, and maybe even the promotion of their Reinhart before the Islanders version. New Jersey has improved their offense, and were already better than us last year. The playoff teams from last year haven’t regressed much, and some got better. So if this is the best and last of Garth Snow’s off season movement, expect the usual end result- watching the playoffs of other cities teams on TV. Or as all but one anomaly season of Snow’s management has shown us, expect more of the same.

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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. Jax says:

    What a joke saying Snow had to be talked into taking JT, HAHAHAHA. Give it a rest.

    • MattandDan says:

      Guess you were there? How’d that convo go?

      And thank you for apparently agreeing with every other point in the article!

  2. Chris Martin says:

    Hey Jax…..Stop with the non-sequiters, and listen.
    Tell me where I am wrong…… It is possible and quite probable that Snow was forced to take Tavares. Just look at his track record,his inability to assess talent, coupled with his blatant lies and spin….It tells me the guy is clueless, and he has to cover up his deficiencies with BS. And the lemmings, AKA booster club members, insist on giving him a pass, every year. ……… Why?
    The biggest problem they have is that they don’t have a system or a team identity. How would you describe them? Are they a grinding team, a dump and chase team, a run and gun team? I know Capuano uses the term “a 200 ft game”, but what team doesn’t subscribe to that? Did LA win 2 cups in three years by playing from the red line out? The fact of the matter is no one knows, including Capuano and Snow. Without a system that is easily identifiable, they don’t have a game plan to bring players into their system. Players that compliment the system. When they look to free agency or waivers, they pick from the garbage, and expect everyone to believe it is a buffet. Rolston, Reasoner, Bouchard, Regin, Aucoin…..All misfits and has beens that are somehow supposed to compliment the current players?
    Look at this roster and tell me…How do we compete for the cup against teams like Pitt, Boston and the Rangers. And if we get past them, how do we take on LA, Chicago or Aneheim?
    And Martinek? Does he wander around the halls of the moseleum waiting to be told to get dressed?
    Conacher? He is on his 4th team in a year…What does that tell you? Also, he is 5’8″, 160 lbs. Is he the guy to protect JT from being given a face plant?
    Nabakov?….GAPG of almost 4 in 6 playoff games. Lets give him a raise of over a MILLION DOLLARS!!
    Bailey? nice guy, magic hands, big pussy and a defensive liability. In his defense, they drafted him as a center, bounced him around to wing, and back. He has the same disease that nino suffered from….he was exposed to Capuano.
    Grabner, 400 breakaways….5 goals. The guy can’t finish but he can skate, and Capuano hasn’t realized how to use a guy with that speed to his advantage. Look no further than Carl Haglin. He has less talent than grabner but is more productive. Why? Because the coach realizes, like everyone else, except Capuano, that by using his speed, he opens up ice for other players.
    Colin Macdonald? MINUS 22!!!! and dopes like haydrey say he played a reasonable 4th line.
    Martin? 43 goals his last year of juniors, and Capuano makes him a 4th line checker.

    Look to all of the successful teams and you will see a few constants. Identifiable system, drafting and developing players that compliment the system, filling in holes with an occasional waiver pick up, and trades that further that purpose.
    Additionally, it is no mistake that top notch draft picks will wither in the minors because by bringing them up, we burn time off of their entry level contracts. That is why, as you visit that shithole arena, you will see clowns and misfits in uniform, and reinhardt, pulock, strome, in the press box or in bridgeport.

    This organization was once at the top of the food chain. There was a time when the rest of the league emulated this team. Now what? How much longer will you tolerate this? Don’t you want to succeed? Am I the only one, aside from a few others that see what the ENTIRE NHL sees? Snow is a laughing stock, a joke, a perpetual punchline for hockey pundits and commentators. And Capuano is close behind.
    In closing, I have one final thought. There isn’t one answer to the Isles troubles. It is easy for me or anyone to say what I would do, or what should be done, and we can disagree on what players should stay or go. But we should all be in agreement that the current path taken by Snow and Capuano is NOT working. And there is no way that the Isles can compete in this environment. So, logically, there is only one option left. Get rid of the GM and coach…….

    • MattandDan says:

      Well said, Chris. This is not an NHL caliber front office. The GM’s solution for fixing the 27th worst power play in the NHL was to hire the guy who coached Toronto to the 26th worst power play in the NHL. We get incremental improvements, but Come On!

      Snow must go. Cap must pack. Wang can’t hang.

  3. Harry says:

    this is a truly special piece of “writing”, keep it up

    • Harry says:

      you get a hard-on for buffalo and florida’s transactions (how id florida’s defense “special”?), but don’t acknowledge any improvement on this team, besides halak being afraid to test free agency of course. Just very weird take on everything.

      • MattandDan says:

        Florida acquired an Olympian, stanley cup finalist goalie to go along with the consensus 1st pick overall- the John Tavares ruled defenseman Aaron Ekblad to go along with Gudbranson, Kulikov, and Brian Campbell. That’s a WAY better top 4 and what the Islanders roll out, hands down.

        As per improvement on this team, we mentioned in the last article and here that Snow has made grade C moves to improve this team without hitting major need areas of top talent wing and D.

        However, if you’re listening, there’s already rumblings that because of the Grabovski signing and the status of Ryan Strome’s contract that Strome will start the season in Bridgeport. There’s also talk of Kulemin taking a job away from Nelson or Lee because of 2 way contract status. So much for a prospect pool that can’t take a gig away from a 9 goal scorer.

        Asset mismanagement. Check out our archive for a detailed evidence filled history of Snow’s failings.
        Cheers!

  4. Chris Martin says:

    Hey Harry…Facts are stubborn things and here are a few for you and other kool-aid drinkers
    Did you know…
    1.That if the islanders held the 2 goal leads they had going into the 3rd period, they would have been 1 pt behind the rangers in the standings at the end of the season.
    2. The Islanders did not get their 10th win at home until Saturday March 15th……9 wins through 5+ months of hockey!!!
    3. In the month of November, the Isles had a 2 goal lead against detroit with under 5 minutes left. They let up 2 goals, 1 short handed, and won in a shootout to a goalie who made his first start ever. And the goal to tie it was a classic Cappy “run out the clock” power play, where AMAC was stripped of the puck behind the Islander net and fed a pass in front to a redwing. There wasn’t an Islander, except the goalie, within 50 feet of him!!!
    4. We were beating washington 2-1 with 1.5 minutes left. Lost in ot to, of all people, OVI.
    5. We went on a west coast trip and went 1-8-1….and NO ONE was fired, NO ONE was benched, and NO ONE was held accountable for that slide. And by the time they returned to Nassau, the season was over.
    So, what would YOU do if made aware of those 5 facts? Does any one lose their job in this place? Does anyone watch from the press box? or demoted to Bridgeport? or waived?
    You speak of improvements….Yes we got a solid goalie, that plays well in the Hitchcock system. Do we have anything that resembles that system? No, we have Capuano and 250 goals against. Wait until Halak’s GAPG starts to swell, and he begins to sulk…Will that be enough for you to look to management as the culprit?
    Grabo and Kuli….good moves you say? 9.1 million per season good? I like to think they will bounce back and recharge their careers, but what if they don’t? Is that enough to blame Cappy? or Snow?
    Do you really expect Conacher to play first line minutes with JT, on the ice against top pair defensemen like orpik, mcdonaugh, Martin, Green, Phanouf?
    And what about the talent that is wasting away? Strome, Reinhardt, Pulock? Wuold you rather see clowns like C mac, Martinek, Carkner, Bolton or Bailey? Is this the team that will match up or beat Pitt, Boston, or the Rangers?
    Please, spend a little time and formulate an answer to my questions.

    • MattandDan says:

      #2 on that list above is mind numbing for a place once called Fort Neverlose.

      #1 on that list speaks to exactly why we have no faith in this front office. Even if they manage a playoff round- a big if- they’ll be an 8th seed (or 7th, 6th, or 5th- not a top 4 team) and be at the tactical advantage of having Jack Capuano as their head coach. He’s the worst in the league at strategy- well, the worst that hasn’t been fired for incompetence thus far.

      This team may have talent, but with the coaching staff, we’re never going to know. Watch the regression of Halak this season as proof that no one watches. Or how Brian Rolston reported to the Bruins out of shape, even as the season was almost over. No head for the little things, nor the big things.

  5. Chris Martin says:

    I think #5 is significant because it exposes the mindset that there is no accountability. Remember what snow said when he traded moulson…”we are a win-now team”, that was when we were 4-4-3. What could he have been saying after that road trip? How does he look any one in the face? And then they went on a roll, won 9/10, and then the rumors started to fly about Vanek. I saw the writing on the wall when his personalized equipment was for sale at the arena, an entire 5 weeks before the deadline.
    Remember, all of these players have had success their entire lives. Whether junior hockey or collegiate, they have all played and sometimes won, championship games. So, I ask the fools that continue to defend Snow and Capuano;
    How does a team with so much talent, drafted and traded for, collectively suck when they put on the Islander uniform?
    Answer: Mismanagement and amateur coaching
    PS- I noticed the guys that criticize you the most are silent when presented with facts. No one responds, like we are beneath them. Heydray, BD Gallof- Self proclaimed “experts” who get it wrong more times than not. They are the Mike Francesa of the Islander blogesphere.

    • MattandDan says:

      Facts are different than opinions. I’d love to see this team shut up these bloggers and win a Stanley Cup. But the fans are satisfied with far less, probably from years of losing. I’m amazed how people take any little move of progress as if they were guaranteed chunks of gold. Making the playoffs isn’t an achievement- more than half of the league makes the playoffs. In some ways, its a bigger achievement to not make the playoffs. It’s a special brand of incompetence.

      We revel in that brand. Our stanley cup is winning the draft lottery. Which…well, they havent done that either.

  6. Chris Martin says:

    One final thought…
    This time of year is one of optimism for fans of teams like the Islanders.
    We arise each day and visit the web in hopes of discovering that the Isles have finally turned the corner. And everyday we emerge, dejected and depressed, with the realization that nothing changes. Like Lucy’s promise to Charlie Brown, we assume that, this time it will be different, and the football will not be pulled out from under our feet.
    And I appreciate fans who never give up, and root for the team till the very end. However, it is one thing to unequivocally support your team, and entirely another to ignore the gross malfeasance, incompetence, and blatant lies emanating from Wang, Snow and Capuano. How do some of these guys believe the propaganda, yet deny the things they see with their own eyes? What kind of psychological hoops must you jump through to not only believe, but defend the information coming out of the office of Garth Snow?
    Sadly, they outnumber us….

  7. Chris Martin says:

    I’m still waiting for Jax and Harry to respond…….Crickets