Ex-NY Islanders GM Garth Snow says it was Scott Malkin's call not to trade Tavares

Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders
Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

If you rewind back to July 1, 2018, part of the reason New York Islanders fans were so upset or even felt betrayed by John Tavares for leaving in free agency was the realization that they lost the face of the franchise for nothing. If there was a chance he wanted to return home to Toronto or play elsewhere, he should've let GM Garth Snow and ownership know was a familiar refrain.

In a must-read in the New York Post from beat writer Ethan Sears, Snow, no longer under contract with the team, says it was ownership's call not to entertain trading the 2009 1st overall pick at the deadline with the Isles outside of the playoff picture. “That decision by Scott Malkin was that we weren’t gonna trade him under any circumstances,” Snow shared, able to speak freely.

Given how the team was underperforming under head coach Doug Weight, Snow doesn't share if it would've been his preference to trade Tavares. Rather, it was never an option for him to pursue.

He [Malkin] was totally committed to re-signing him. I think the quote I had said is, ‘Are you willing to drive the car off the cliff if you go through the season and get to free agency?’ He was comfortable with that. That’s the bottom line.
Garth Snow

The article also shares Snow's thoughts on trading into the first round to take Mathew Barzal, drafting Anders Lee, the difficulties with the move to Barclays Center and more.

Thinking back on the time, Tavares' public statements left fans believing their team captain wanted to remain on Long Island. In addition, the announcement of a new state-of-the-art arena at Belmont Park and the emergence of the Calder Trophy-winning Barzal seemed like it would be enough to make the Islanders an attractive long-term destination for the most valued free agent that summer.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It's understandable why Malkin didn't view trading Tavares as an option. After only recently taking majority ownership from Charles Wang and building momentum toward a new arena, making a franchise-altering trade would've been a hard sell and signaled to the fanbase that after some playoff success, the Islanders were once again a team in transition.

“I feel so bad that [Tavares] gets trashed for something that wasn’t his fault,” Snow added. “The Islanders could have traded him if they wanted to, but that decision was made. So it’s not his fault the Islanders didn’t trade him.”

Was it ownership's fault that a trade wasn't considered? Maybe so, but could Tavares' have been more forthcoming about the chances he would leave? Possibly, but we don't know how aggressively the Islanders sought out that answer, and if the result would have been any different if they had.