When I read the email inviting me to a round table with Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, I have to admit, I checked to make sure it was really addressed to me. Garth, unlike longtime GM Mike Milbury, does not look to throw his mug in front of the camera every chance he gets. Actually, during the season, you hardly hear from him at all. He does his job and stays out of the way. Well, today he was nice enough to sit down with 3 bloggers for a chat. Ken Dick (from www.okposonet.blogspot.com) and I were on time, Dee Karl (www.7thwoman.blogspot.com) was not. We were lead into the conference room where we’d holding the round table and Ken and I made ourselves comfortable. About 3 minutes later, in walks Garth Snow, wearing a golf shirt and khakis (for whoever wants to know what GM’s wear to work on a typical Wednesday). He introduced himself and takes a seat (directly to my right). Now as I am getting my pad out looking for my questions, he starts to ask me questions…”where do you live?” he asked, without stuttering too much I told him and we spoke logistically as to where I live. As if I expected the conversation to end there, which I did, he asked me which site I write for (thanks again Katrina for clarifying my answer). As we waited for Ms. Karl (who by her own admission is always late), we spoke about how websites make money, and the age old question if you don’t have an one watching you, how do you know some of the blogs aren’t just made up (good question)….and with that Dee shows up and the party’s about to start. Now the first 10 minutes of the round table, I for some reason didn’t get on record (god damn blackberry), so I have about 30 minutes of tape and believe me….it’s more than enough. Though I do recommend that you go and read Ken and Dee’s blog to get the full recount on what happened.
Here’s some of the play by play…
Tony – Is targeting an RFA (restricted free agent) something the Islanders would look at?, or are you against that?
GS – “We would look at anything allowed under the collective bargaining agreement” “It would have to make sense for us considering we have young players who will be up for contract extensions and you don’t want to box yourself in”
Ken – Can you describe the impact of Doug Weight’s return?
GS – “Any words I would use here to describe Doug (Weight) wouldn’t do it justice to how important he is to our team.” “On and off the ice, his presence was something I feel we sorely missed last season”
Dee – With the team improving by 18 points last year, and Scott Gordon heading into the last year of his contract, what does he have to do have job security?
GS – “With the 18 point jump in the standings with a younger club, we expect to make the playoffs” “Everyone needs to make the playoffs to ensure job security, whether you’re the coach, GM or a player”
Tony – Are you concerned about Kirill Petrov’s development that he’s stuck in the KHL?
GS – “Yea it’s a concern cause it’s out of our hands. Per the CBA, we cannot be involved in any way, shape, or form in trying to get him out of his contract.” “It’s up to his agent to get him out of the agreement” “I hope he gets here ASAP, but the games go on regardless” “ I can tell you from the conversations I’ve had with him his ultimate goal is to be over here, and he’s doing everything he can to secure a release.” “He enjoyed his time on Long Island in July, and it was a positive experience for him”.
Ken – What is the decision process in bringing back players like Jon Sim and not bringing back Richard Park?
GS – “Flexibility” “ We offered Richard Park a 2 way contract but we’re at a point where we want to give our younger guys a chance to make our team and the only way to do that is to have flexibility with contracts” “I have to make sure we have the flexibility to be able to put out younger guys in the lineup “ Joensuu, Martin and Niederreiter were specifically the players he mentioned while answering this question.
This next one was a very funny exchange….just some background, Dee and Garth know each other for some time now and Garth truly enjoys breaking chops…especially Dee’s. The first part of his answer came before she even finished answering the question…
Dee – What will be the entertainment value this season?
GS – “Winning…..next question!”
Tony – “Well section 309 will be thrilled to hear that!”
(we all got a good laugh out of that one…)
GS – “Our goal is to obviously make the playoffs, once we’re there, we’d then like to compete for a Stanley Cup” “We feel our team is one the fans can grow with” “We’ve seen in Josh’s case (Bailey) where we’ve seen a kid become a man, and that’s a lot of fun to watch” “This team is a good mix of skill, speed and toughness” (citing the acquisitions of Zenon Konopka, James Wisniewski and MMA fighter Jeremy Yablonski) “But at the end of the day….you have to win”
Tony – Can you tell us a little about Kevin Poulin?
GS – “A very skilled goaltender, he takes up a lot of the net and moves laterally effortlessly” “The biggest step he’s taken is his conditioning, and that mostly been his education catching up with him”
This was also comical…
Ken – In the day of the internet and twitter, how do you keep things under wraps?
GS – “I don’t tell anyone…”
Ken – How many people knew about the Tavares pick?
GS – “ummmm let’s see…..looking up counting on his fingers…..Charles and myself and that was it.”
This was his response on people who would continually ask him who he was selecting…
“If you were my friend you wouldn’t ask me who we were selecting, but since you asked you aren’t my friend so I’m not going to tell you….” Classic….
Tony – If the Islanders were in 6th place in the conference with 2 weeks until the deadline, would you hesitate to make another Ryan Smyth type deal?
GS – “If it was a situation where we didn’t mortgage our future, or deviate from what we been doing with our plan, we would look at anything” “ It obviously would depend on the situation, but would consider anything within those parameters to improve our team.”
This last line was the last thing Garth said to us today (other than the good bye and such). We were kinda just generally discussing his playing days and if he misses being a player, and our hostess asked him if being a former player allows him to see things in prospects that he’s seen before…he replied he does, but gave credit to the scouting staff as they have a philosophy in place…and that is….
“the old saying is, good people can do great things, and I truly believe that”
I can say I was extremely impressed with Garth. He’s engaging, funny, intelligent, and knows the game of hockey. I hope I get to speak with him again someday as I truly enjoyed talking with him. Not just because he’s the General Manager of my favorite team, but because he’s just an overall good guy.
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile