8 ways to fix the unmitigated disaster that is the 2010 New York Islanders.
In the midst of one of the worst streaks in team history, there is no denying, the Islanders organization is a disaster. Top to bottom, there is no other way to put it. The owner is under fire due to a lack of spending for the on ice product, which at best is a bottom 3 team at this point and an attempt to raise ticket and parking prices on a team that has finished in the bottom 5 of the standings the past 4 years. The GM is under fire for a reluctance to make a move to improve and for banning a popular blogger from the Coliseum press box. The team is under fire considering they have won 1 of their last 18 games. Needless to say, the fans are disgusted, the media is attacking on a daily basis, as the team sinks deeper and deeper at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Is it possible to lock up the lottery pick by Christmas? After looking at a bunch of issues that I’ve talked about with different fans and friends, here are 8 things the Islanders can do to turn things around.
1. Close the top 10 rows of the Coliseum and move everyone down.
The Isles woulnd’t be the first team to do it, the Lightning (who used to be a top NHL draw) does it, heck even the Mets used to do it to the Upper Deck at Shea Stadium years ago. The team is drawing an average of 10,770 (which isn’t totally accurate) which is the lowest average they’ve had since the turn of the century. This idea would allow the rink to give the illusion of being fuller than it actually is and would allow fans a closer look at the game. Obviously the prices would have to be adjusted since the reason the 300’s are so popular is because they are semi affordable. All in all, it would be a nice olive branch to fans….as would my next idea…
2. Reinstate Chris Botta.
The Islanders have made their point on this one. As someone who read’s Chris’ blog on a daily basis, and has an incredible amount of respect for his contacts and knowledge of the game, I completely understand where Garth came from on this. I for one think Botta has learned his lesson and giving him access again would give the fans the coverage they crave and deserve. It would give the team some good will with the Internet crowd and with the MSM (main stream media) as well. Have Snow and Botta sit across from each other and hash this out, both are classy professionals and I’m sure one conversation will get their relationship back on track.
3. Hire Bob Hartley.
As one anonymous player was quoted yesterday “it’s like a country club in here”, there obviously needs to be a new voice in the room. I like Jack Capuano a lot, but he is still from the old regime and a new coach is desperately needed. Hartley is that guy. He has worked very well with young teams in the past and he isn’t afraid to let his players know when their play is unacceptable. Hiring Hartley would be a good step back towards respectability.
4. Hire a scouting director with some experience.
After letting Ryan Jankowski go (who amazingly gets credit for every Islander draft pick if you ask some fans), the Islanders have yet to announce a replacement. It doesn’t mean his job isn’t being handled by someone else, it just means no replacement was ever named. The team, which doesn’t sink much into it’s on ice product, should dump some additional funds into scouting and hire someone to run their draft. A Jim Devellano comes to mind (though I don’t see him making a return to Long Island at this point in his career). But someone of that stature would be another step towards respectability.
5. Make a trade!
The team is awaiting Kyle Okposo’s return, that should not preclude them from making a move. It’s painfully obvious that the Islanders do not have enough scoring (watching Jon Sim on the power play over and over again should be your first clue). The Isles have many prospects, though most of them are in Juniors or college. They need to bring in someone who can score. It would squelch some of the “cap floor” comments and would also improve the on ice product, and hence maybe sell a few more tickets.
6. Give Season Ticket Holders something!
Over the past few seasons, the Islanders used to treat their season ticket holders to many different amenities. A BBQ kicking off the season, with a free autograph session with the entire team (it’s now open to all fans, and a donation to the Islanders Children’s foundation must be made to attend), season ticket holders may enter an hour earlier than the general public. There would be some sort of gift, a shirt, sweatshirt, a jersey, a collectable….something would always come in the mail. There would be giveaways (bobbleheads, hats, calender’s…etc). That well has completely dried up. The season ticket holders get nothing now. These are your most loyal fans, the ones that invest in the team each year whether they suck or not. Give them something…anything! A signed puck, a jersey, a sweatshirt…anything would be appreciated. Again, make a connection to your fans, and not just the ones sitting in the 100’s.
7. Talk to the Fans!
If you ask around, the biggest complaint Islanders fans have, there is no communication with management. I know Garth is not one to hop in front of the camera’s, and Charles has been amazingly quiet since the fall of the Lighthouse project but this has to stop. Someone has to come to the forefront and speak to the fans. In the beginning there would be town hall sessions, open houses at the Coliseum, anything to keep the fans informed. That has completely stopped and has become a point of contention amongst the fans i’ve spoken to. The last thing an organization wants to do is isolate your fan base, the Islanders are dangerously close to doing that. Someone needs to talk to the fans and let them know what’s happening……and finally….
8. Induct John Tonelli into the Islanders HOF.
A few years back the team created the Islanders HOF and announced each year a different player would be inducted. Bob Bourne was the first after the originals (Bossy, Trottier, Smith, Gillies, Nystrom, Torrey and Arbour). No one has been inducted since. There is a laundry list of players that should be in there and Tonelli is the first. A huge fan favorite during his time on Long Island, it again would be a treat for the fans and the right thing to do for a player who did so much for the Islanders during his career.
Since there is nothing else to say about the team’s current play, I’ll leave my ideas as the basis for this blog.
As always your comments are welcomed and encouraged.
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