Islanders: History vs. Garth Snow: The Bad
By Ryan Grosso
In the first part of this series on former Islanders GM Garth Snow, I looked at the good he did in his tenure. While some may disagree he did any good at all, all can agree that his executive career was filled with a lot of blunders. Today, I put some of those blunders under the microscope.
As I noted last week, Garth Snow left his successor with a roster full of potential. The Islanders team he left them with had pieces of a roster that could succeed, and that had reached some moderate levels of success under his regime.
Today, I’ll be looking at one of his worst, and most consistent, flaws. The flaw that held his rosters back, and never allowed them to unlock their full potential.
The Honorable Mentions
I’ve got three honorable mentions before we dig into the true fecal pièce de résistance, let’s look at those.
Ryan Smyth Trade
If you don’t recall the details of the Ryan Smyth trade in 2006, Garth sent Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra, and a 2007 first-round pick to Edmonton for Smyth.
The assets never really blossomed for Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. He picked Alex Plante with the incoming pick. But that first-rounder could’ve been Ian Cole, Max Pacioretty, Mikael Backlund, David Perron, P.K. Subban, or Wayne Simmonds.
Think about the impact one of them could’ve had on this organization. For a fringe-contender Islanders team that was bordering on a rebuild, I would’ve kept the pick and foregone Smyth’s short stint on The Island.
Thomas Vanek Trade
The Thomas Vanek trade eventually resulted in the New York Islanders selecting Mathew Barzal. That’s awesome. What wasn’t awesome was trading Matt Moulson.
It left the Islanders without John Tavares‘ favorite linemate going forward. Vanek was gone before that season was over, and the Islanders missed the playoffs regardless of the trade, which sent Moulson, a 2014 first-rounder, and a 2015 second-rounder to Buffalo.
Andrew Ladd Signing
Finally, the Andrew Ladd signing has to be Garth’s worst free agency move. It’s the deal’s seven-year term that really makes it atrocious.
The former Jets captain’s production and health fell off a cliff almost immediately with the Islanders. He has four years remaining on his deal. Ladd was waived to AHL Bridgeport for further conditioning Thursday.
The Coaching Gaffe
Garth Snow had four coaches working under him during his executive reign. I’m only going to go into detail about the latter two, Jack Capuano and Doug Weight.
Capuano has the second-most wins in New York Islanders coaching history. Yet, the team always felt as if they were being held back by his coaching. Too often Islanders fans found themselves watching a team that looked ill-prepared to play a game, had lost focus between periods, or a combination of both.
It happened over, and over again. The roster in Capuano’s final season was not wholly the same, but very similar, and arguably more talented than this current Islanders crop. Their lack of success can be blamed largely on poor coaching.
Unlike Wednesday night, those Capuano Islanders teams would not rebound with a strong adjustment at intermissions. Once things started to come undone, they usually went off the rails completely.
As for Weight, there’s not really much to say. Weight made the Islanders look hapless. The same defense that pundits were saying needed a top-down re-haul after the Weight season allowed the fewest goals in the NHL under Barry Trotz the next year.
For too long Garth Snow failed to address his Islanders squads’ greatest weakness: coaching. After a coach had well overstayed his welcome he would be fired, only to give way to another coach from Bridgeport, or an assistant from the same staff, it was laughable.
Lou Lamoriello, in under a month, fixed what Garth Snow had been missing for twelve years. He hired a competent head coach to run his team. It was the first move he made. Garth had twelve years to get the right bench boss running things. He never did, and that’s unacceptable.
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Thanks for reading. Next week, I’ll be deep-diving into the absolute lowest points in Garth’s executive career. We’ll be talking about the Rick DiPietro contract, and the 2018 John Tavares free agency saga. Stay tuned.