The Islanders might as well confirm general manager Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight will return for 2018-19.
Co-owner Jon Ledecky’s prepared statement on Monday and letter to the fans on Tuesday, accepting blame for the Islanders’ disappointing season that resulted in a second straight playoff miss and promising the hockey operations department would be evaluated, were well-intentioned, no matter how much they further infuriated an angry fan base that is convinced the Islanders are rudder-less.
But both messages missed the mark because they were not conclusive.
Islanders ownership should not need more time to evaluate whether Snow and Weight are the right men for the job, certainly not Snow, who has been in charge since July 18, 2006.
It’s very clear what is and what is not in the organization in terms of player assets. It’s very clear what the organization needs to improve to reverse this two-season slide after the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1993.
Both Snow and Weight are operating as if they aren’t going anywhere, starting with conducting exit interviews with the players on Sunday and Monday and beginning strategy sessions on Tuesday for 2018-19. The strong perception around the NHL is that Snow will remain the GM. Now, that could be because Snow has let his fellow GMs know he’s not going anywhere or because the rest of the league saw what we all saw Sunday and Monday.
The time to replace them, if that’s what ownership wanted to do, has come and gone.
The Islanders will be loath to hear this truth because of the rivalry with the Rangers, but the Islanders should have followed the Rangers’ path to transparency.
The Rangers, in February, released their letter to fans acknowledging the reality of the season — the Rangers finished in last place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Islanders — and the intention to be sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
The Rangers then fired coach Alain Vigneault mere hours after their season finale on Saturday.
Right or wrong, there was no ambiguity.
In contrast, the Islanders have Snow and Weight being led to believe they’re being retained even as Ledecky perhaps suggested otherwise.
Snow did little to alter his personnel, even with captain John Tavares still on target to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Snow, both in a private interview with Newsday on Monday and in a press conference minutes later, seemed supremely confident in the organization’s gamble not to move Tavares for assets.
“A lot of those conversations will remain private with John, his agent (Pat Brisson) and myself,” Snow told Newsday. “John is a talented player. We had the good fortune to draft him in 2009. It’s always fun to watch a player like that grow into the type of player and person that he is today. He’s a player that we want to retire an Islander and hoist a Stanley Cup.”
Pressed whether he has any assurances Tavares does, indeed, want to stay, Snow repeated, “Any conversations will remain private.”
Yet there have been no indications any significant progress has been made between Snow and Brisson and the perception around the rest of the league is that Tavares, having gotten to this point, risks nothing by actually hitting the open market.