Since the start of free agency not much has occurred in Islander Country, but the media continues to draw attention to the Snow and Nolan rivalry, and it seems that there is definitely something brewing.
The early extension of Brendan Witt definitely raised a few eyebrows. Almost every fan I know was happy about this signing as Witt has been one of our most consistent leaders on the blue line. But we all know that Witt is a "Nolan-boy" who even stated that he was very excited to be playing for Teddy the day he signed a contract. Could this be an effort by Snow to keep Ted on board? Or is it a pre-cautionary measure in case Nolan is not kept passed next season with the organization wanting to keep their integral leaders around?
It's very hard to tell.
Nolan already has been public about his displeasure with General Manager Garth Snow, although he hasn't exactly been direct. Snow, on the other hand, has made a few comments in regards to Teddy's coaching. If you can't remember any examples, one that sticks out in my mind occurred during the back-to-back Isles/Rangers games. DP was ready to go for the second tilt after missing a few games due to his grandmother's unfortunate death, but instead of putting Ricky back in he threw in Dubie for his strong performance over the past few games. As a fan I liked it. It showed that Teddy is not afraid to go with the hot hand even if he isn't the face of the Franchise. It was one of the few times, if not the only time throughout the season that the coaching staff said "No" to Ricky since Teddy openly admitted that DP called most of the shots in regards to playing time. When Snow was asked if it surprised him, he replied that it "raised an eyebrow or two."
In other words, he basically was saying that he didn't understand why Nolan went with Dubie over Ricky, regardless if Dubie had a few strong games. Although it was a statement, he was flat out questioning Ted's coaching methods. Snow doesn't have to always agree with the decisions that Ted makes, but I feel it is a bit improper to publicly say something like that. A more professional response could have been, "I always trust Ted's decisions because he's the coach."
I always felt that Snow's comment was a part of a silent war between the two, with Teddy stating after games that "you work with what you get," suggesting that Snow didn't supply him with an efficient roster. Although that's a little unprofessional as well, I feel most can identify with Ted's situation since the roster was filled with under-achievers such as Vasicek and Fedotenko.
However Teddy and Garth last summer were more in sync with each other when it came to draft day and free agent signings. This summer Nolan said it was all up to the higher positioned members and was more or less out of the loop with the Isles decisions to trade down twice at the draft.
Whatever the case may truly be, there is obviously something off balance between head coach Ted Nolan and GM Garth Snow. Wang on occasion has seemed to back up Snow more than Nolan, as recently reported in Newsday where Wang said the young players "proved [Nolan] wrong" in regards to Teddy's desire to have a veteran nucleus.
This year will without question determine whether or not Nolan will be on board next summer. Personally I hope he is. He has been the best coach to arrive on Long Island since Peter Laviolette. And Teddy is right. He has worked with what he has been given and that has been mediocre thus far. This year the fan base and I'm sure the organization are prepared for a long season. Of course the goal is to at least make the playoffs, but being that they are calling this a rebuilding process they have to set realistic goals. If this team falls way short of the playoffs like they did this passt season, it would be a crime to let go of Ted.
However if we see the kids start scoring goals and winning a few games here and there, then he should be patted on the back with an extension for getting the job done.