Fixing This Disaster

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.

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Filed Under: Eastern ConferenceFeaturedfeatured-bloggersNew York IslandersNHLNHL Teams

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 and currently for, 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: Twitter:

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BDGallof, LightningShout, Red Wings News Feed, Hockey Independent, Yes! Islanders and others. Yes! Islanders said: RT @tonystabile: New #isles blog….Fixing This Disaster [...]

  2. Ken says:

    All valid points. I’d love to see John Tonelli honored, he deserves it. As far as a trade goes, one big question, who do they trade? All the guys they should be shopping, in my eyes at least, have no value. Who? Hunter, Sim, Gervais…..I don’t see anyone giving up anything but a 3rd – 4th round pick for them. To land anyone who will make a difference, they’d have to trade Bailey, Tavares, Martin, DeHann, Nino, or any of the other young players that we should be worried about keeping. I just don’t see a big impact trade happening without sacrificing some of the young guys we are betting whatever future we have left on.

    • Tony Stabile says:

      Hey Ken,

      I don’t say they need to go out and acquire Rick Nash, there are trades that can be made to bring in someone who can help this team in the now. Teams like Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa etc are looking to make a deal to shake their team as well.

      Bringing in a Milan Michalek or a Matt Stajan (no rumor on either guy just using them as examples) could be a shot in the arm and could add some scoring punch to this team.

  3. HyeDray says:

    All solid points Tony.

    The trade pont is interesting. I had heard that over the summer Snow had a shot at Big Buff and Versteeg but passed on both. The Hawks wanted Matt Martin plus in one of those potential deals. Now while Hamonic and De Haan are off the table I have to wonder — what does this team look like with some NHL talent to supplement guys like Tavares.

    The team may have some vets on it, but not key personnel. Your points about how management has abandoned the fan base is a critical problem with the franchise. PR has been a disaster.

  4. RobC/KO21 says:

    lol, all great ideas but it seems like Wang doesnt give 2 s***’s

  5. anthony c says:

    this can all be done. but wang is to retarded

  6. Isles27 says:

    Number 1 should be Wang needs to hire a respected NHL person to run the hockey operations, give him whatever title you want, but this person is responsible for all hockey operations and everyone including the GM answers to him and Wang just watches games and gives this person a budget and that’s it. No more getting involved in the draft or player contracts or personnel moves for Wang because it just hasn’t worked out well. You can’t become friends with certain players and then give them long extended contracts because they are your friend. Reading the book “Hockey for Dummies” has not made Wang an expert on hockey by a long shot.

    • HyeDray says:

      Oh my god….no….it can’t be….is it possible…..Do we actually agree on something?????? That’s it…cats and dogs….living together…mass hysteria… :))))

      Seriously, this is the proper general structure. Own the team, fine, but bring in a VP of Hockey Ops that is in charge or all on-ice ops, drafts, trade approvals, etc. This is where a Bill Torrey would slot in as an example.

      I have no issue with Wang being at the games, or even at the draft to welcome players to the team. Fine. But outside of that, he should be at arms length and provide the budget.

      Sadly, i doubt that will happen with this owner. Ever.

      • Isles27 says:

        Yes I guess we agree on this :) but it’s a no brainer the guy does not know what he is doing when it comes to running a hockey team.

  7. As someone who has been an Islander fanatic since their inception it is clear that you are just another blogger who doesn’t say what they really feel in fear of being shunned by the Islanders back up goalie, I mean General Manager. Here are my 8 ways to improve a once proud franchise :

    1. Sell the club to someone who cares.
    2. Fire Garth Snow immediately.
    3. Hold Scouting staff responsible for their poor decisions
    4. Get rid of Diepetro anyway anyhow.
    5. Get rid of Okoposo as he has one move and the whole league knows it.
    6. Develop the young talent in the AHL not the NHL ( including Tavares who looks like a Pylon on the ice )
    7. Get a deal done to build a new building so real talent might be interested in playing on Long Island.
    8. Sign at least two more enforcers to protect all the wimps we have right now.

    • RobC/KO21 says:

      #5 is fucking retarded…Other than that I agree…

      • 7 out of 8 aint bad. As for # 5 please let me know why I’m wrong on this one. I’ve only seen Okoposo play about 20 times but have only seen one move out of him offensively. I see him as possible trade bait in aquiring more consistant offense.

        • RobC/KO21 says:

          AT the very least hes a grinder who will give a 2nd, 3rd and 4th effort and never gives up on a play…Isles27 will take umbrage with the fact that he hasnt shown the willingness to get his nose dirty in front of the net and that he needs to drop the gloves once in a while and hes right but to say hes trade bait is ridiculous…hes got loads of potential and the work ethic is Parisilike, on the ice

    • Isles27 says:

      I was watching the NHL Network yesterday for a time and it seems the Isles have gotten the attention of people around the NHL for negative reasons. NO ONE I have heard comment on the Isles has stated that this is the proper way to utilize the kids, just throw them out there with some veterans who no other teams want and let them lose game after game. The consensus is you are doing these kids a lot of harm because they have gotten used to losing. This is the NHL where you get paid to WIN not just to give a good effort and lose game after game. Guys like Bailey and Okposo were rushed into this league and would have been better off learning away from the NHL. The problem with Okposo is he thinks he can beat these NHL D men one on one or one on two and he can’t plus he doesn’t want to crash the net to score goals. Maybe he would have learned these things away from the NHL. Okposo hasn’t played enough NHL games to rate him yet IMO but he certainly needs to learn how to stick up for his teammates what he did last season against the Pens on the Bailey hit was unacceptable and it seems the team this season is at least sticking up for one another. As far as the excuse that players don’t come here because of the building, that’s Snow’s excuse, players don’t come here because the way this organization is run that’s the main reason.

  8. Hockey1919 says:

    Well thought out perspective. Too often we get crazy rants like sell, sell, sell, trade every draft pick and 20 year old that hasn’t panned out yet. Trades don’t have to be blockbusters, maybe move a guy like Dylan Reese or Hunter for a different depth piece that is a better fit. These all seem very reasonable actions that Wang and Snow can make especailly since they pretty much all fall into the category of treating the fans like decent human beings.

    I disagree with only one point, Ed Westfall should be next and not JT. Not because Tonelli isn’t deserving, but because it is a seniority thing. Westfall is the type of leader this team is missing.

    • Torvy says:

      Crazy rants like sell, sell, sell trade every draft pick and 20 year old that hasn’t panned out are exactly what this organization needs to do ! You must have a short memory as every high draft pick and prospect that has been unfortunate enough to start their careers on Long Island for the past 20 years have either been traded once they mature or given away for nothing. Look at every high draft choice we’ve had in the last 20 years then look at the list of players that came after them in their respective drafts and you’ll see a long list of exceptional NHL players that the Islanders Management passed on. The only young stars the Islanders should hold on to right now are John Taveras and Josh Bailey and they both should be in the AHL. Frans Nielson is talented but weak, Robbie Shremp plays when he feels like it which is about every 7 games or so ! and while I’m at it why in the world is Trent Hunter and Doug Weight still playing professional Hockey. They cant keep up in the new NHL, sure they are great embassadors for the game and good community guys but the fact is they no longer have the wheels to keep up or the talent to overcome that fact.

      • RobC/KO21 says:

        How can you leave KO out of that list???Baffeling

      • Hockey1919 says:

        So based on Mike Milbury’s poor development record, the Islanders should continue in that mold? They should instead make a lot of trades? They’ve won a lot of those trades in the past as well? A reasonable asssement would be to get people better at drafting not getting rid of draft picks.

  9. RobC/KO21 says:

    The fact that Wang hasnt said anything is disturbing to say the least…I hope bettman steps in to restore some order…What are the chances???

  10. Isles27 says:

    You have to go on Stubhub and check out the prices of the tickets for the up coming games. Movie tickets cost more than some of these tickets. What a joke. BTW that little kid who was doing PA announcements for the Flyer game Sunday is he permanent ):

  11. BDGallof says:

    Great piece.

    Janks will have no replacement. They decided that his role was no longer needed as it came time for a new contract. As reported by myself and also Elliot Freidman of HNIC…. that role is Garth plus their person to has been running their draft model since Neil Smith was hired (and fired). They still use their scouts, but Garth now works with them.

  12. ISLES4CUP says:

    Hartley would be a good start. They need to restore some order to this team so that it can start to build confidence. Capuano is not the guy to do it with this team at this time.
    Next, Wang has to stop pouting about the Lighthouse project and figure out a way to move on. Please stop telling us how bad the building is and how that is why the fans don’t come and how they can’t attract free agents. Put a good organization together and put a good team on the ice and the fans will come no matter what the building is. “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME”
    How about joint venturing with the Wilpons and building an arena next to Citifield.