The culture change has happened rapidly for the New York Islanders. Not only is it now a coaching destination, but one for players as well.
When Lou Lamoriello fired longtime New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow he cited it as a much-needed culture change. He was absolutely right. A change needed to happen. We just didn’t know that it would happen overnight.
The Islanders haven’t been a destination since the mid to late eighties. Coaches didn’t want to come here. And players had no desire to play on Long Island. The Islanders weren’t a destination.
In 2017 then ESPN writer Craig Custance put out a piece detailing what teams that routinely made players no-trade lists. (Note: The article is behind a paywall for ESPN “Insiders”.) Naturally, the New York Islanders were the third least desirable on the list.
That’s clearly changed. In his first media availability since become the head coach of the New York Islanders, Barry Trotz called the Isles a destination. Now it seems that players are following in his footsteps.
According to Elliotte Friedman, Columbus Blue Jacket LW Artemi Panarin seems to believe that the Islanders are an appealing destination.
"I mentioned Los Angeles, New York and Florida are rumoured to appeal to Artemi Panarin. You asked if that meant one New York team or both. I’m under the impression it is both."
Panarin still has a year to go before he can hit free agency. When he can ultimately decide where he goes. But the appeal is what’s important here.
More from Eyes On Isles
- Islanders key to success: Load management with goalies
- Islanders Zdeno Chara trending in the right direction
- Islanders: Semyon Varlamov Deserves Benefit of the Doubt
- Islanders Ilya Sorokin becoming number one goalie
- Islanders Zach Parise Was Quiet in Return to Minnesota
The appeal of the franchise means everything.
Of course, having Panarin on the team would be fantastic. We’re talking about a point per game player in Columbus, where he was free from the shadow of Patrick Kane. Panarin is the real deal.
But again, the importance here is that he is at least rumored to be interested in the Islanders. That doesn’t happen for this franchise. Or at least, it hasn’t. Players didn’t want to come play here. Until now.
Until this ownership group turned things around by investing in all areas of the franchise.
First, it was the practice facility. Then it was management, then coaching, and if Tavares signs that big money deal, it will be on players.
And that commitment to excellence as John Ledecky has termed it, is starting to show around the NHL.
Panarin had 82 points in 81 games last season. In 2019 he’ll be one of the premier free agents that have a chance at hitting the open market. And according to Elliotte Friedman, he might be thinking of the Islanders as a place to play.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
It’s just a rumor, but it still an important one because of how it frames the desirability of the franchise. If Custance polls players for teams on their no-trade blocks again I bet the New York Islanders are nowhere near the bottom five.