Well, that was completely unexpected, but when you’ve been a fan for as long as some have it’s not shocking, but it is (to put it nicely) disappointing. The New York Islanders will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year and there’s some very obvious reasons why they’ll miss. I’m not going to write about what happened ( I will later) or why the Isles missed and just regurgitate what many others in the media have already written and said. You don’t need to be reminded, nor do I need to bore myself about it. The best thing for this fan base to do now is move beyond this season. So I’m putting myself in the hot seat and I’m going to pretend that I got asked the three biggest questions on every Islanders fans minds because this will encompass most of the spring and early summer: Will Doug Weight be back as coach? Will Garth Snow be fired? Will John Tavares resign with the Islanders?
Let’s hit this one first: Will Doug Weight be back as Islanders head coach? Yes, I do believe he will be back. As my esteemed colleague, Gary Harding, said on his radio show at SportsTalk1240, “If (former Isles coach) Jack Capuano got 6 years, you can give Weight another year.” I agree with this statement. There were a few games where the Isles were close to either a tie/win and gain points in the standings for a possible playoff push while they were still in it and then Weight benches a rookie on multiple occasions who’s not only going to win the Calder Cup this year, but is one of the best in the current NHL season and Weight is acting like it’s not a big deal? To me, that job security. The coaching staff? I hope all of them do not stay. Should the Isles give Weight the same six years? Absolutely not. Not without a more experienced team on the ice. So let me throw a question out to you: Does Doug want to come back?
Second question: Will Garth Snow be fired as general manager? No. Should he be fired? Yes. He should have been fired back in 2014 or promoted to only being President of hockey operations. That’s what normal hockey organizations do. This is not a normal organization yet. When the Isles have a permanent home to go along with a semi-new practice facility (by that time) that’ll attract more quality free agents, then we can all talk about being a normal organization. Am I shocked that Snow has a contract that’s rumored to last until the end of the first completed year at Belmont? Not at all, and neither should you. Signing home-grown kids Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield and Snow’s first ever rebuild pick, Josh Bailey to long-term contracts couldn’t have gone through without John Ledecky’s approval if Snow was in the hot seat, right? Plus let’s also look at the fact that the Isles have enough cap space to resign John Tavares and possibly go after another major, impact player and that’s not touching the remaining rumored five million dollar cap increase. Another point to add is this: whether Snow is talking to a lowly fan-blogger like myself or talking to the upper echelon of media like Brian Compton, Art Staple, Elliot Friedman, Darren Dreger, or Bob McKenzie, and newly introduced beat Isles beat writer, Andrew Gross, Snow has never lied. It may not be the entire truth, but it would be wrong of me to call him a liar. So there is a part of me that believes him when he told Art (I believe) that (I’m paraphrasing) he has never felt like he was losing his job. But where’s the breaking point? Does missing the playoffs again for a second year in a row and 8 out of 12 not enough? Is the silence from the owners a sign that changes are coming or that they’ll simply reappear after a certain franchise player is resigned? Speaking of franchise players, there’s the John Tavares effect. Is John Tavares a major influence in Snow keeping his job? That brings us to the final question.
Third question: Will John Tavares resign with the Islanders? Being an outsider (not living on Long Island, nor a season ticket holder) I give a 50/50 shot that Tavares resigns with the Islanders. That might seem horrible, but they’re better odds than say him going to Toronto (15%) or Montreal (10%). San José (15%) might be a nice laid back area, not a lot of press/media and the team would certainly be competitive, but I don’t think Tavares wouldn’t get the Sharks to the Stanley Cup, not with other competition out there. Now if there’s a sign or trade with Tavares, then all bets are off. To me, I don’t think it’s about the money for Tavares. Winning the Cup is important, being near family is also very important and so is not being in the spotlight. I truly believe that this is more personal than it is a hockey decision for Tavares. He’s earned the right to at least look at what is out there to be offered and to see if the grass is truly greener on the other side. I would be disappointed if he didn’t do it this late in the game. If you’re putting a gun to my head and ask me that question? Yes, I do believe he will resign. Despite the disastrous season, the emergence of Mathew Barzal and possibly Ryan Pulock to take away some of the spotlight is welcomed; playing games at a renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum starting next season is actually more of a plus as it means less commuter time and more family time. Of course there’s the eventual future, and more importantly, permanent home of Belmont that will actually feel like a home away from home. But the Islanders have not won anything except for the first round win against Florida back in 2016. Is all this losing too much for him? Would you blame him if he did leave? I wouldn’t.
As for winning the Stanley Cup with the Islanders? That I’m going to tackle in the next article in a few days. Over the course of this month, I’ll be going over some of the issues I had with this team and it’s not just the defense and goaltending either. Then once again I’ll be covering the prospects that the organization already has and tell you when if/when they make it to the big club. Next I’ll be once again going over the draft in May and early June and I’ll be covering several players who I believe the Isles may pick along with my mock draft in June.
For now, as painful as it has been, finish up the Isles season with the remaining games this week. Enjoy the baseball games and the Stanley Cup playoffs. April 28th is the draft lottery, so you’ve got time to enjoy other things before the drama picks up again come the draft and of course, July 1st.