Islanders Garth Snow’s Ego Running Team Into the Ground

Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight on his bench against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight on his bench against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

A week ago, the New York Islanders held their playoff chances in their hands. With two straight losses and the rest of the playoff pack winning, the Islanders are falling back and the blame goes back to Garth Snow.

The New York Islanders can’t win big games. They can’t win any string of games with any consistency. They’ve spent the last three weeks as a Jekyll and Hyde team winning some with aplomb and bombing others so badly it’s impossible to see them as the same team.

And yet Garth Snow stood pat at the trade deadline and continues to leave Jaroslav Halak in the minors while his team overworks Thomas Greiss and drowns in front of J.F. Berube.

Let’s get the excuses out of the way, shall we?


So the Islanders have had their share of injuries lately. Let’s just state right off the bat that this team continues to have a subpar record when Johnny Boychuk is out of the lineup. This defense is far from perfect with him in the lineup, but it’s better and offers options.

Casey Cizikas’ absence continues to hurt, especially in face-offs.

Cal Clutterbuck looks like he’s still in training camp as he continues to battle back from his injury and his return has seemed to hurt the team more than helped.

New York Islanders

The same could be said for Thomas Hickey since his return.

And Dennis Seidenberg.

Anyone else noticing a pattern?

Okay, Alan Quine is hurt and so is Shane Prince. Frankly, their absence has been a gift since it’s allowed for the emergence of Josh Ho-Sang, who on particularly poor nights, seems to be the only guy showing up.

Guys, Boychuk and Cizikas are two guys. While they’re important to the chemistry of this team, it’s two guys who aren’t named John Tavares.


The Islanders got snowed with the schedule. The poor first half where so many of their games were at home has left them at a disadvantage.

They’re left fighting for a playoff spot on the road, including their hard fought nine-game trip that was far more successful than probably anyone thought.

The scheduling of these games has left the Islanders a tired hockey team.

So they’re banged up and tired.

Welcome to the NHL. Vancouver’s battled mumps. Tampa’s played the majority of their season without Steven Stamkos and Steve Yzerman traded their number one goalie before the deadline. They’ve put themselves into a playoff spot despite injuries and a grueling schedule with a proactive general manager.

What’s Left?

So after the excuses, what’s left? For the Islanders, the only thing left is Snow’s ego. For a while, it seemed that Snow was like a snake lying in wait before he pounced, but more and more it’s looking like he’s a fish out of water.

We could forget the number of hapless years because Boychuk and Nick Leddy happened. While there are a lot of people on the “let’s talk Boychuk into waiving his no movement clause” train, I’m not. His absence continues to scream the guy is needed. Oh, and should have an A. But I digress.

Aside from Leddy and Boychuk and hopefully the move that allowed drafting Mathew Barzal, what have we got?

We’ve got a “Don” style, demigod running this hockey team. It can be summed up in three instances: Jack Capuano, Travis Hamonic, and Jaroslav Halak.

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Everyone but Snow knows Capuano should have been fired in the Fall. Most people know he should have fired when we were all mourning the loss of Matt Moulson. Are there things Capuano did well? Probably. Players loved him. There’s tons of word vomit to go here, but he couldn’t get this team to play.

Doug Weight has offered improvement and if anything else, he’s given the ice to Ho-Sang and he’s been the light under which Ryan Strome has blossomed again.

Here’s the caveat, though. There are nights they look like a Capuano team. Capuano teams have historically gotten simply outplayed, outworked, and out-muscled. Ultimately this team still IS a Capuano team and that’s on Snow.


Hamonic is certainly one of this season’s scapegoats. Again, I don’t believe this is through any fault of Hamonic’s but Islanders’ management overvaluing him. Now that the rest of the league sees it, Snow’s refusal (or inability) to move on it will continue to haunt this team.

Seeing as how he’s not going anywhere, this coaching staff has got to come to terms with his abilities. He’s not Ryan Suter or Drew Doughty. He shouldn’t be playing the minutes he’s playing and maybe, just maybe, he needs stronger defensive partners. Partners that aren’t Hickey or even Calvin de Haan.

At this point what other choices do the Islanders have? Well, Ryan Pulock might be a start.

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Finally, this leaves us with Halak – the Isles multimillion dollar disgruntled goalie with a big-tweeting agent. Other than the team, a precious few know what went on with Halak in the Isles room. We saw what we saw, and Halak’s play wasn’t quality. Again we can haul out the three goalie system as a hindrance and it more than likely was.

For the most part Greiss has flourished in Halak’s absence, but Greiss has also become overworked. It happened in last year’s playoffs once the Isles hit Tampa. It’s happening now.

The problem now is that there is no plane of existence where Berube is the smarter choice above Halak. The goalie situation isn’t ideal and Greiss, when he’s not overworked, can carry this team in games. He needs more than Berube and unfortunately, Berube needs a stonewall defense or to only start against the Avalanche.

Halak isn’t done. He’s performed in Bridgeport. There’s also no way Halak hasn’t figured out some pretty important stuff up there, too.

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It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Snow. More than ten years on the job and he still hasn’t learned what it’s all about.