Lots of yuletide votes of confidence flying around the Islanders, a team stuck in an 0-8-1 slump with a seemingly never-ending list of injuries. Let's take the votes one at a time.
Thus spake Garth Snow, about coach Scott Gordon, to Chris Botta (got all that?):
“I stand by Scott and everything he is trying to instill in our team. He is an outstanding coach and our partnership is going to be a long one ... Over time, as we continue to develop our young players and make the necessary changes to become a better team, you’ll see why I believe so much in Scott.”
Although the "vote of confidence" is often the death-knell for a coach, it's safe to say this vote's legit. Frankly, it's exactly what I'd want and expect to hear from Snow right now. Between the lines is recognition that the club is in the nascent stages of a development process -- one with growing pains, one complicated by an unbelievable run of injuries, and one whose fruits won't show until the club has a base of better players. (Instead of, you know, the roster that some call the worst on paper in the NHL.)
Sorry for vets Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, Brendan Witt, and company but that's what we've got here, and it's good to know the GM isn't phased and, rather, is determined to stick to the plan. It'd be too short-sighted -- something we've seen way too often on the Island -- if they backed away from it now.
Think of the Children
On that note, via Greg Logan, the vets gave the rookies the old kick-in-the-rear kind of vote of confidence in light of the latest injuries to leading scorer Doug Weight and Andy Sutton:
Bill Guerin said last night, the time really is now for the young kids who are healthy on the Islanders to step up and grab their opportunity to grow with both hands. ...
It's a tough spot to be in for the kids. "Yeah, this is the best league in the world," [Andy] Sutton said. "It's a tough place for people to cut their teeth. I can't say much more than that."
Gauntlet laid, kids. Now, it takes the biscuit and puts it in, or else it gets the hose again.
Ol' Witter, He's a Friend of Ours
Meanwhile, in Botta's post, Snow also gave ol' Witter a vote of confidence:
My respect for Brendan is boundless, everyone knows that. He’s a great defenseman and leader. My only criticism is that it was a family matter, and Brendan should have kept it in the family.
You know I understand Garth Sopranos' narrowly self-interested "keep it in the family" instinct, but it sure can be annoying. Maybe not in this instance (stirring controversy in New York media is rarely a positive move for the team), but as with the once-ridiculous injury policy, if Snow had his way you get the feeling fans wouldn't be told anything other than how brilliantly the team played in a 4-1 loss.
And this consumer/entertainment provider relationship, it just doesn't work that way. I'm willing to buy in with irrational amounts of time, money and emotion devoted to the cause. But when you start guarding info like Big Brother (as in "1984," not as in the modern pop culture monstrosity), or -- worse -- insult fans' intelligence (not in this instance, mind you), that's when I think about the Hemingway and Twain that I haven't read in a while, and all the other authors I've yet to discover (okay, fine: Agatha Christie).
Ryan Smyth Rehash, Volume XXIII
Finally, for some reason (to answer irrational comment ranters who don't know playoff run from rebuild?), Botta brought up the Ryan Smyth trade:
Garth Snow was called the "GM of the Year" by Sports Illustrated for the trade and he says he doesn’t regret the move and never will. I can understand that.
But it’s a good thing the Oilers didn’t burn him. In addition to craving the credibility of Smyth and Ted Nolan having zero use for Nilsson, maybe Snow knew which draft picks from the old regime to move before it was too late.
Impossible to know if the Oilers had the potential to "burn" Snow -- I mean, Kevin Lowe got what he got, under some duress -- but other than that: That's how I felt about the trade then, that's how I feel about it now, and that's how I'll feel about it even if Nilsson turns things around after being benched by Craig MacTavish for "no competition."
There is no hindsight in the present. You go with what you know at the time. And at the time, it was a justifiable risk, given a) the approach of the playoffs, b) the need of fans to see a sign of earnestness from the franchise, and c) given the club had determined it had no use for those prospects.
There was also probably a short-term aspect of backup goalie-turned-GM Snow wanting to show he can play with the big dogs, which is understandable. That interest isn't best for the club, of course, but when you thrust a guy into this position, you have to expect he's initially going to act in a way that thinks near-term over long-term, just to ensure his immediate survival.
As Botta said, the 1st-round hurt, but that's the price fo a rental. He notes that Brian Burke -- not exactly unbiased in dealings with Kevin Lowe -- claimed he would have offered more. Probably should have expected Smyth wouldn't want to stay here, but I've never lost sleep over it. And in the end, it's good we didn't get Smyth's name on a contract.
Oh yeah, since we're here and past the jump, let's record today's injury list for medical posterity:
New York Islanders Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|broken right foot