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I have been on several Islander message boards and blogs—and there are some pretty irate, zany, wacky and down-right pissed Islander fans throughout Long Island. Trouble is—I can't quite understand why.
Okay–I know today was July 1, and I know everybody figured the Isles would do something to address the holes in the line-up, but nothing—no low level signing, no free agent acquisition. Nada. Zip. Zilch. barely a rumor that the Snow was in his office. Funny thing about it is—he was—and in some ways he may have done the right thing today by not going hog wild and feeding at the free agent frenzy.
Lets be logical—and break down a few important details....
ON THE ICE
Any free agent is looking at the Islanders and saying that they are still many years away—even the most generous assessment would be a season or two—but they are moving in the right direction. I love what Snow has done at the draft, but they are still in rebuild mode. That is a fair assessment, and all true. Tavares, Bailey, Okposo Moulsen, Schremp, Neilsen are intriguing players, along with Striet, Hillen and MacDonald. They have very good prospect coming in perhaps this year, but most likely next year in De Haan, Hamonic, and Neiderreiter. Nelson, Petrov and Kamanov are very curious, but don't know when they get to Long Island.
OFF THE ICE
The free agents likely come to Long Island when their team is on the road, and they see a broken-down building that sits in the middle of 77 acres of asphalt nary a tree in sight. It is dank, cold and dreary. Hardly a welcome mat. When they talk to players who have played for the Islanders, and they hear about beaches, and gold, the Hamptons, and proximity to NYC, they are skeptical. Most people have to SEE IT. Humans are visual being. They need to be able to and touch and feel the vibrancy of a city.
I have been to games outside of Long Island. In Boston—the hole area is buzzing. After a game, we went to dinner at Fanuel Hall. It was a short walk. Big time fun. In other cities—there are arena districts which become destinations. Sound a little like the now dead Light House Wang wanted to build?
THE ARENA and FRANCHISE
Can anyone tell us with any certainty where this franchise will be playing in October 2015? If you can, then Nostradamous has nothing on you! We don't know who is going to own the team in 2015. If Wang does not get what he wants from Mafia Murray and Mondello—the Hooples of Heampstead—and he cant work a deal with Queens, where does he go, and what are his options? Perhaps the team plays in Queens maybe they work a deal for Long Island. Maybe they move to Connecticut, or another city in Canada. Maybe Vegas. The point is there is vast uncertainty about this franchise's future, and that is not a recipe for attracting any free agent.
The Islander have the cap space, and the Islander have displayed a willing owner. Lots of fans don't believe that—but I don't know too many people willing to hand someone the kind of money Yashin is collect to just not show up. He has spent money, and when it is right will continue to spend money. But clearly with so much uncertainty with the franchise, the idea of dumping more cash into the hole is not the best idea. It kills any options for flexibility if a move or sale need to happen. Wang wants to keep the team as fluid as possible—and I dont blame him. If the right deal, and right player comes along, I believe he will pay the terms.
We were all hoping for one of Volchenkov, Martin, Hamhuis or Michalek. It did not happen. We all wanted to see some activity, and rather then admit the possibility that our home town—our beloved Long Island was kicked under the bus by NHL players we "admire" or "desire" we blame the GM, the Owner or just about anyone else.
it takes two to tango. It was widely reported online that Snow offer Hamhuis more money to play here then in Vancouver. He offer Martin a solid deal that was comparable to what he got in Pitt. But what people need to do is look at the first paragraphs I wrote if they want to be hinest with themselves.
Martin, Volchenkov Hamhuis, and Michalek want to play with a good team. In Pitt your owner is Lemieux, your franchise has a new arena, and players named Staal, Crosby, Malkin and Fluery. In Vancover—as a defenseman, your goalie is Luongo and you play with the Sedins in a gorgeous city, new arena, and hockey crazy atmosphere.
When you are drafted, there is an understanding—if you are Tavares, Hall, or Hedman you are expecting to go to a franchise that just finished at or near the bottom of the league. You know—for the most part—your team will suck for a few years after you get there. But these are young guys who want ice-time and a chance to prove they belong. Helping to restore a franchise is okay at that point in your career. But it takes a special person to come into a situation like the one the Isles are in and say—I dont care all that much about the office I work in, or the state of the city I live in. How many of us want to work in a crappy office? How many of us want to commute to a place where it is barren and dank?
Kate Murray and the GOP are as much to blame for today lack of signing just as much as Mike Milbury is for destroying our once proud franchise. It can also be put on the gang of 4, and Spano and everyone inbetween. It falls on Snow and Wang to a point as well. But overall—Wang is allowing Snow to do his job.
ONE FINE DAY
It is only one day into free agency. There are COUNTLESS Players I can name that would be excellent additions to the Islanders, and some of them are going to sign. They will sign because they believe in the direction of the team, or because they know something about Long Island they like. They will sign because the money is right. Will it be Kovulchuk? No. But those expecting that need to rethink their expectations, and the state of the Islanders.
Garth Snow has done a remarkable job. I applaud his work. Today did not go the way anyone wanted—and I believe that includes Snow. But they know—and deep down so do we—if we are honest, that certain things need to happen to get July 1 right.
Scenario: If the Isles make the playoffs this year and win a round, that is the signal that the rebuild is working, and the team is ready to compete.
Scenario: If Wang gets a deal done for an arena, and the project actually begins, that will be a sign of further stability.
Of course the last scenario is the Islanders get their deal for a new facility in Queens leaving the Hooples of Hempstead to enjoy their new 16,000 seat crack den, AND we get into the playoff in April, and win a round.
I have faith in Snow. He will get the job done. He has earned my trust at this time, and until he does something to have me pull that faith—im sticking with my boys!
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