How Garth Snow refused to be seduced by easy answers or swayed by buying or selling. Instead, he graduated this season, making careful and difficult considerations this trade deadline. Whether the fanbase agreed with it or not.
((Cue the Simon and Garfunkel))
I'm not sure what everyone expected of this trade deadline. I am even unsure as to why some fans might have been expecting some home-run swing. As Snow said last season, Ryan Smyth, based on some precursor talk, still just fell in their lap. McCabe, as I said here originally when the rumor ran unbound, was going NOWHERE. No Brad Richards. No Hossa. No Mas. This team was just not buying. That was clear as cold wintry day.
I myself hoped for a sell-off, admitting that this team is pitched in a ditch of mediocrity. And the way out isn't to look for a free agent or trade to solve all their problems. But instead, move off inconsistent chafe, and create a new culture of young, hungry and aggressive players by reaping prospects and picks in selling each one off. That's my vision for the Isles, but I am not a GM or member of an organization that is losing cash and fighting to have a dynamic real estate deal to create not only an updated venue, but refurbish an entire misused area around it as well . . .
So in other words, things aren't so simple in the land of armchair GMs for Islander Country. Sometimes we fans forget, though the team clear does not, that it IS a business.
Far more bigger things are in play. And unfortunately we are stuck with the same team with a few cosmetic changes. The mixed-bag soul is still alive and well. And I'm that, as a fan, I am disappointed because I know they seriously considered a sell-off. But, that is where I am actually appeased. That they considered it. They spoke about it. They made big decisions thinking things out. How often in the past did we see fly-by-the-seat deals by those who came before, which most of the time had horrific consequences. Players and chemistry gutted by hubris, impatience, and an organizational inability to develop players.
That, my friends, was the Isles true bane in those lean and terrible times. That the organization was completely unable to develop the well-scouted talents that came through their ranks. Instead, Mad Mike and those soft, fleshy ownerships above him, got suckered into thinking they could deal and trade to make solutions and get out of that hole . . . which only got deeper. Eventually, Mike actually learned a thing or two. And lets get very real. He wasn't the #1 problem. That was the people that let him or made him go find ways to fix a system that was much more damaged than what a GM could fix. The entire organization was languishing. Mike was left to his devices. And give credit where credit is due . . . wanted to make things better, and before he finally stepped down, he did put them on a better path with some solid pickups. Sure, there were still problems. But, sometimes when I look back, as much as I too wanted Milbury out and gone, I do know that there was far more at play than just a GM who was making mistakes. Is he in-part to blame. Sure thing. But he can share that with many others that tumbled our team and fortunes during those dark days.
No, all is not lost. Far from it. And this has a lot to do with the blog title. For Garth Snow clearly set standards for himself and what he wanted, unwilling to take just anything for those who, despite not burning up the stat charts, were still commodities. That they stuck to their guns, not willing to sell-off while a team was in the playoff mix.
That with so much on the line with strides made in attendance and TV ratings, along with that ever-so-long push for a new updated venue that sits in the Town of Hempstead's hands. The Lighthouse applied for re-zoning of the Coliseum Site back on November 13, 2007. A rumor that has come down the line is that application is approved. But, I can still get no confirmation nor see anything further on it. So, a rumor is all it is presently.
Many fans are not happy, thinking it's all more of the same. The damaged psyches of Isles fans are carried by us all. We dealt with tremendously unfair things that no fanbase should suffer. One of the reasons that the Isles fanbase is so internet/new media active is simply because we all had to band together in some way to offset the ridiculousness we were forced to endure. It made us tougher. It made us hopeful. But it also made us easy to piss off. And furthermore, perhaps some still have precarious equilibriums due to wanting things to change and finally throw off this yoke of failure that many outside the organization have gleefully thrown over our heads. There is an easily found impatience and frustration factor that the Isles quickly discovered when Chris Simon was booed by the fanbase, or even over the passionate reactions to last year's trade deadline deal that still splits opinions.
But, all that aside, I think there is something more important. Even as I gleefully skewer old Garth with some pictures. And that is, there is a clear thoughtfulness not only to his moves and disposition, but in the organization as well. Garth Snow and company chose to stand pat, upgrading two weaknesses. One was reputation, based on Simon's antics.
Another was defensively, as he got into bed with one GM, in Anaheim's Brian Burke. Was Burke, Anne Bancroft to Snow's Dustin Hoffman? They were unable to get-together last season, as moving Blake did not happen. But this season, Garth rid himself of an expendable and defensively liable factor and replacing him with a stand-up, well-sized defensively minded young guy from San Jose. And I was an actual fan of MAB, but I love the upgrade. I love the move. I respect the thought process, though it might not reap great rewards this year. And I still think Garth should have gotten more for MAB. But his trials and travails is now someone else's problem.
No, not all is solved at trade deadline. But fans have seemed to forget that trade deadlines do not offer easy nor quick solutions. Especially to teams who are still trying to find themselves. Some deals on the table did not happen. I was told that the deal that came close was not with Montreal, but instead an Western Conference team in Canada. And it was a forward for a forward deal. And of course, we have all heard the rumors of Snow drawing a line in the sand, by requesting a 1st round pick for Tank or else. Snow did not blink. He stuck to his guns. And maybe that wasn't the right answer. Maybe they should have done other things. Like not keeping guys who clearly are not performing to expectations. But clearly, they feel differently. That with youth pressing into spots, they will look to retain Tank, Vasicek and Satan, working and molding the structure to best fit all. Hopefully it fits the fans hopes. I'm not sold. We shall see. But . . .
Sell. Buy. Whatever. The fact is, Snow made decisions and stuck to them, and has a vision in play. Maybe they'll make mistakes. They happen. But maybe, just maybe, that hope still burns bright. Just a little bit further down the line.