Well, the first shoe has dropped in Islanders country. Deciding, for now at least, against the dismissal of head coach Jack Capuano, the Islanders have decided it’s time to attempt to inject a spark into the current roster. GM Garth Snow has put Pierre-Marc Bouchard on waivers to clear room for the Islanders’ new golden boy; Ryan Strome.
Now don’t get me wrong, Strome is an exciting addition. Strome leads the AHL in points, he could provide the offense that has disappeared over the past couple of weeks. No doubt he will get to show us what he’s got. However, is now the time to bring him up? Will this give the Islanders the spark they need to reel off 5 or 6 in a row? Doubtful, but who knows? There is no question he has talent. But, we seem to be overlooking some major issues here. Was Pierre-Marc Bouchard the reason the Islanders haven’t won in the past 9 games? Is Bouchard the reason the defense let Sidney Crosby slide past 3 of them to put in the game winning goal? Is Bouchard the one giving up 4 goals a game? Is Bouchard the one who sat a productive Brock Nelson down in favor of Peter Regin? How about sending Matt Donovan down and keeping Radek Martinek on the roster? Was that him? No, I don’t think so.
Something reeks here and it’s not just the play of Bouchard or Regin. The prevailing attitude of this team has been damaged by the losses and is having a hard time recapturing confidence. It has everything to do with the way the team is run on the ice. Charles Wang has left the team in the hands of Garth Snow and let him do his thing. A lot of people complain that Wang is not around. Not every owner is George Steinbrenner. I know in New York that is what we have gotten used to, but most of the time the owner is very much a background figure.
Snow is very capable. He is a good general manager who is not afraid of making a move He made a risky move in trading Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek, but it’s a move that had to be made. On paper it improved the team. Although not in an area it needed to be improved, it did make the team better.. What happens with Vanek remains to be seen. But, bringing up Ryan Strome could be risky. How many times have we seen this? A young, highly touted prospect comes up, fails, loses his confidence and is never to be seen nor heard of again.
Unfortunately, this does not address the core needs of this team. In addition to the glaring hole in the defense and in net, the Islanders need a leader behind the bench. Clearly Jack Capuano has lost this team and the only solution is for him to go. Charles Wang and Garth Snow were on, or are on, this road trip to see what needs to happen next in addition to attending the board of governors meeting.
We just did not expect it to be this. This may still be only the first shoe to drop. By the time the road trip ends, the Isles locker room may look like Foot Locker. And unfortunately for Peter Regin (performance), Jack Capuano (performance) and probably Anders Nilsson (return of Evgeni Nabokov from injury), they may not be wearing the referee uniforms.