Islanders support GM Garth Snow's many moves
As rallying cries go, Garth Snow's crass comments on TSN from draft night in June don't exactly have an inspirational ring.
Snow was asked at the time about the negative perception expected from NHL experts after trading up into the first round to select Joshua Ho-Sang, a skilled player who was not projected to be a first-rounder. The defiant Snow used profanity live on televisions all across Canada to defend the move.
But while those off-color remarks may have upset some around the league, they had a different effect on the core of his Islanders team.
"Well, first off, I started dying laughing," John Tavares said, laughing again at the memory of his general manager cussing. "There's definitely a perception about the team here and people obviously have a right to their opinions, but being here every day, we know what we have and what we're working toward. We've made a lot of changes within the locker room; obviously, Garth added guys and made changes. We're driven to win and we're trying to find the right solution.
"We know we're not going to be getting a lot of publicity or a lot of hype from people, and that's fine. We just have to go about our business and do what we can do to get to where we want to be."
Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the Isles' leaders in the room, could have taken the opposite tack: They could have found their GM's brazen reply embarrassing, the fitting capper to a 2013-14 season that was filled with embarrassing Islanders moments.
Instead, they are following Snow's "Isles vs. the world" lead. Both Tavares and Okposo noted that NBC and NBC Sports Network, the U.S. broadcasters of NHL hockey, declined to schedule the Islanders even once among their 103 combined telecasts this coming season.
"When they ask for things [like taping promos], I don't understand why when they didn't want to put us on there," Tavares said. "I guess it just adds fuel to the fire for us."
"You always want to play in front of an audience, especially in those national games, being from the States," Okposo said. "I feel like we're an exciting team to watch, we play a fast, up-tempo game, we score a lot of goals. So yeah, I definitely felt a little slighted."
An NBC source said the network has "flex" scheduling for its late-season games, so the Islanders (and Panthers, the only other team out of 30 without a scheduled national game) could play their way on to a national broadcast.
The real rallying cry for the Islanders in their final Nassau Coliseum season is a bit simpler: Win. Win, and the hockey world will come around.
In fact, it seems the pundits already have. In light of Snow's most recent moves last week, trading for defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, a majority of the media experts around North America have picked the Isles as a playoff team.
"Maybe we get slighted, but you have to put together a winning squad to kind of shut 'em up and make people believers," Okposo said. "I'm excited to get going and do that."
Even the coaching staff, led by the profoundly unheralded Jack Capuano -- Vegas has him pegged at 3-1 odds to be the first coach fired, right behind the Maple Leafs' Randy Carlyle -- believes this is a good season to come in feeling angry.
"We've all got a chip on our shoulder, coaches too," Capuano said. "This is the attitude we should all have."