It seems as if there should be one obvious goal for the New York Islanders this offseason: re-signing captain John Tavares. However, all things considered, replacing the team’s management may take precedence and losing 91 might be the sacrifice that needs to be made to make it happen.
At the close of the 2017-2018 New York Islanders season, there was one question on every fan’s mind: When does John Tavares re-sign? Throughout the year, the captain has famously given vague answers to all inquiries about his contract that was soon to expire, saying he hopes to stay without committing to anything publicly.
Any fan who has been watching the Islanders since 2009 should want to see John Tavares return. However, a brewing distain for general manager, Garth Snow has come to a boil. It could be argued that fans would want Snow fired more than they would want John Tavares to stay if forced to choose.
Losing a superstar like John Tavares would certainly be the biggest blemish on a long list of mistakes made by Garth Snow throughout his tenure as manager. From the beginning of his career, 91 was toted as the savior of the New York Islanders and the piece that Garth Snow would use to turn the team towards success. Losing him would mean admitting failure.
One would have to think that letting Tavares walk would be the last straw for the Snow era and while no fan wants to see it happen, it might be worth it.
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A New Face of the Franchise
While losing the captain would be a tremendous blow to any progress the Islanders may have made in the past decade, the team would not be starting entirely from scratch. A key element to a successful rebuild is often a first or second overall pick, like Tavares, to work around. The Islanders already have this player in Mathew Barzal.
In his rookie season, Barzal has proven himself to be a generational talent. From matching an Islander legend’s record and being the clear Calder trophy favorite, 13 has had an incredible season. He would have no problem moving from a second line center to a first line center and embracing his role as the newest face of the franchise if necessary.
The Islanders could then use their first round draft picks and the young talent already in their system (see: 20 goal scorer Anthony Beauvillier, NHL proven Josh Ho-Sang and Sebastian Aho, etc.) to rebuild their team in the absence of John Tavares.
With Garth Snow gone and a budding superstar to build around, the New York Islanders may finally see the light of day. However, this all weighs on the shoulders of co-owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin.
Throughout this disaster season, ownership has backed their general manager and his staff. This is certainly a red flag. In any rational organization, losing the team’s biggest star would call for the firing of the man in charge. With the Islanders, this is a huge risk. The unfortunate truth is that the team would lose Tavares and still see no major changes.
While losing John Tavares would be worth it if it guaranteed a change in management, that chance seemed small. Islander fans may have to swallow the pill of knowing that they could let their captain walk and still see Garth Snow at the wheel for seasons to come.