Isles Nation—This is NOT the Time to Panic


Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Ryan Pulock poses for a photo with team officials after being introduced as the number fifteen overall pick to the New York Islanders during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Astoria, NY – The floor at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft was a hectic, pressure-packed place, as I’m sure New York Islanders GM Garth Snow and the rest of the Isles brass can attest. Putting aside the intensity of the situation and the flurry of activity that took place during the first round, I couldn’t help comparing the scene at Prudential Center to that of an all-time classic movie:

Disney’s Toy Story.

I may be easily amused…but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Seriously, watch the first 34 seconds of this clip. Now watch it again, but pretend it’s a dialogue between Snow and an irate Islanders fan right after the Nino Niederreiter trade was announced Sunday afternoon.

(Buzz Lightyear is Snow, Woody is the token overreacting Isles fan, and “Andy” is Niederreiter. It fits perfectly. I’ll even transcribe it with the subtext in italics.)

Snow [Buzz]: “According to my nava-computer, the—”

“According to the research compiled by myself and the Isles front office—”

Isles Fan [Woody]: “Shut up. Just SHUT UP, you idiot.”

“STOP IT. Just STOP drafting defensemen, STOP making terrible trades when better options are available…just STOP.”

Snow [Buzz]: “Sherriff this is no time to panic.”

“Calm down. The rebuild is finally coming to fruition. After all, we made the playoffs last season after being picked to finish last in the Eastern Conference. I must be doing something right.”

Isles Fan [Woody]: “This is the PERFECT time to panic. I’m lost; Andy is GONE; they’re gonna move from their house in two days and it’s ALL your fault!”

“This is another situation where I can vent and say that my team’s GM is a clown! He only drafts defensemen; he trades away a top-three prospect for a no-name player and a mid-round draft pick; I mean, Nino for Cal @#$!%&* Clutterbuck? Are you kidding me?”

Snow [Buzz]: “My f— MY fault? If you hadn’t pushed me out of the window in the FIRST place—”

“How is this my fault? I’m on a shoestring budget, the team is operating at a deficit, and nearly every draft pick or waiver pickup I’ve made has been gold. You’re only making my job more difficult by complaining that I’m not spending money like the New York Rangers—”

Isles Fan [Woody]: “Oh, well if YOU hadn’t shown up in your stupid little cardboard spaceship and taken away EVERYTHING that was important to me—”

“You retired from being the Islanders goalie and literally stepped right into the front office. You have zero credibility. You. Have. Ruined. My. Life. I mean, the Isles front office wasn’t exactly great before you got there, but…wait, what was I saying?”

Snow [Buzz]: “Don’t talk to me about importance. Because of YOU, the security of this entire universe is in jeopardy.”

“The constant unappreciative fan refrain of ‘The Isles don’t spend money,’ or ‘The Isles aren’t serious about winning’ isn’t helping. We’re on the right track; good things are right around the corner.”

Isles Fan [Woody]: “WHAT?! What are you TALKING about?”

“What are you TALKING about? Why can’t I throw a temper tantrum every time you make a move that I don’t personally agree with? It’s like you’re out to get me. I mean it: I take everything you do as a personal insult. Which is totally reasonable and mature of me. So THERE.”

With apologies to the fans out there that might identify with Woody in the Toy Story scenario, there’s really no reason to constantly berate Snow as a terrible GM.

(And considering the public outcry over Snow being snubbed for an NHL GM of the Year nomination, the small but vocal minority of his detractors doesn’t represent the overall perception of him.)

It’s only July 2nd. Free agency doesn’t begin for a few days. Let’s all take a step back from the ledge and consider what’s happening in Uniondale.

The Rick DiPietro saga has finally (read: mercifully) come to an end. The Islanders recently announced that they would buy out the remaining eight years on DiPietro’s 15-year, $67.5 million contract at a cost of $1.5 million over the next 16 seasons.

Of course, the payments made to the one-time franchise goaltender will not count against the Isles cap.

While the staff at EYES wishes it had ended differently for DiPietro—who by nearly all accounts is a stand-up guy who ran into difficult circumstances—the NHL is a business. Snow and his staff made a business decision that needed to be made. End of story.

Now that the DiPietro contract is off the books, the Islanders are poised to spend money on players who will actually suit up for the team, which is great news for Isles fans. Among Snow’s expected targets are Danny Briere, Thomas Vanek, Jaroslav Halak and Anton Khudobin.

Suffice it to say that this year’s free agency period will be an exciting time for the first time since Snow took over front office operations.

In addition to potential free agent acquisitions, there are the kids to think about: Ryan Strome, Matt Donovan and Brock Nelson are all expected to compete for roster spots during training camp.

And those Isles prospects aren’t even including the ones who are waiting in the wings for their shot to make the big club in coming years: Scott Mayfield, Griffin Reinhart, Calvin de Haan, Kirill Kabanov and Anders Nilsson, among others.

Having a deep prospect pool isn’t exactly a major concern for Snow; yet another reason to take a deep breath and think about how far the franchise has come since the days of former GM Mike Milbury.

Besides the free-agents-to-be and the kids in the farm system, there’s the little matter of Clutterbuck (the former NHL hits leader) teaming up with Matt Martin (the reigning NHL hits leader) on a team that has already been described as “gritty” or “blue collar.”

Pretty soon, the Islanders will be described as “that team no one wants to play against,” considering that they’ll record all of the hits night-in and night-out. And I don’t envy the players who try to get in John Tavares’s face; between Clutterbuck and Martin, they’ll have their hands full.

One last thing: a lot of the negative talk about the Isles has focused on the need to improve on last year’s result. While I can appreciate the fan base’s desire to keep the momentum going, it’s not necessarily a “step backwards” if the Islanders start the 2013-14 season without a star upgrade at right wing or in goal.

Lest we forget, the Isles snuck into the playoffs last season. This team isn’t supposed to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for a few years.

The Isles have Tavares. The kids on the farm will be alright. The fans are back and louder than ever. Things are shaping up very nicely for Long Island’s only professional major sports franchise.

Remember: slow and steady wins the race. I think I remember hearing that somewhere.

This is NOT the time to panic.


As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL offseason coverage and up-to-the-minute Islanders news. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff; we’re always happy to talk hockey.