Former New York Islanders goaltender and GM Garth Snow continued his media tour last week, joining the Cam & Strick Podcast with NHL veteran Cam Janssen and NHL insider Andy Strickland. After being relieved of his duties five years ago by President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello, Snow is now able to pursue other opportunities and talk freely about his time on Long Island as a player and executive.
If you've followed the team closely over the last two decades, much of what he's sharing isn't new, but there are bits of details that complete the picture of his 12-year tenure. For instance, the circumstances surrounding his hire have often been misrepresented as a rash decision by former owner Charles Wang. While the optics of hiring a backup goalie as GM gave the national media plenty of fodder, Snow is the one that initially expressed interest in the job and had gone through multiple rounds of interviews before Wang decided to hire Neil Smith.
Mike Milbury had made the decision to step down during the 2005-06 season but was still handling the day-to-day duties as a General Manager. Wang had started quietly and discreetly interviewing candidates for the position and Snow began to have interest in a career change. "I had met with Mike over time when there was no GM announcement, recalled Snow. "The season ended, and I asked Mike if I could get a meeting with Charles about potentially interviewing for the job."
Snow says he went through three rounds of interviews, using his access to the NHLPA website as a player to prepare for the process and relying on his knowledge of the players in the league and the Islanders system through what he had observed from the ice.
Snow left an impression on Wang but ultimately decided to hire former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith, who had constructed the 1994 Stanley Cup Champions. After that happened, Snow proceeded to have hip surgery and started to prepare for the upcoming season when everything changed for him personally and professionally.
"40 days after he hired Neil, I got a call from Charles saying this isn't working, I want to hire you," said Snow. "When I talked to him after the fact he said I wanted to hire you in the beginning but I didn't want to take a bunch of grief in the media and now look at me, I'm taking twice as much."
"I spoke with Garth at length throughout the spring about the general manager's position and he really impressed me with his passion and his knowledge. When the job opened up, the choice was an easy one."- Charles Wang
Wang dismissed Smith on a Tuesday and announced Snow's hiring on July 18th, with the off-season in full swing, with the now former GM Smith having run the draft and made a number of free agency signings that would be instrumental in the team making the playoff under new head coach Ted Nolan.
"People think it was a snap judgment, but I went through the interview process with Charles, said Snow. "[He was] really a great guy, a special person to have the ability to learn from and worth with."