I started this debate in the comments to this post so I thought I would get the pulse of the readers on the following question:
Was Garth Snow's offseason a failure?
The case for "Yes":
The team's obvious weakness last season was their inability to prevent their opponents from scoring goals. While goaltending was part of it (and I think that will be improved this year, three headed monster notwithstanding), it was clear that the defense needed to become more talented and durable.
However, despite Garth's efforts to sign Ehrhoff, his sole addition to the defense was Steve Staios, who I believe was the lead in the 80s hit Charles in Charge. With the loss of Hillen and Martinek, the Scott Baio signing is a wash at best.
The case for "no":
1. Garth accomplished a lot of important things unrelated to the defense including collecting loads of talent at the draft, signing key core players to smart, long term deals, and improving the bottom half of the offense.
2. As for defense, Garth tried his best but he can't be blamed for free agents' refusal to play here. And if no trade was concluded that means nothing was available at a reasonable because if there was, Garth would have pounced.
While the first point is valid, I don't think the second point is. First, no one is accusing Garth of not trying. But like anything else in life, people are judged based on results. A GM's job is to improve his team and address its deficiencies and by that measure he failed. And I don't buy the idea that "nothing was available." Toronto acquired a couple of solid defensemen for next to nothing and Garth certainly has more tradable assets than Brian Burke.
One final point: Garth deserves all the praise in the world for the rebuild and it is exciting to see the team evolve into a contender. However, for better or worse, with the team's post-2015 existence unsettled, it important for the team to show many different audiences -- public officials, the local community, and to a lesser extent, the "hockey world" -- that it is for real. And the way to do that is to make the playoffs and to avoid another lottery finish at all costs. If August 1st taught us any lesson, it is that.