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Video, Notes from Islanders 'GM Show' with Garth Snow

"You're right, I have GMs asking me for Micheal Haley every day." <em> (*Not an actual quote.)</em>
"You're right, I have GMs asking me for Micheal Haley every day." (*Not an actual quote.)

The full video is now available (and embedded below) from today's "GM Show," where Islanders GM Garth Snow fielded questions from fans relayed by radio play-by-play man Chris King.

It's funny, a lot of fans act like decent questions never get through the PR filter, but a decent amount of probing questions are fielded (the idiotic rants no exec in his right mind would field, of course, are not). They just don't get answered with the scorched earth response frustrated fans are looking for.

In contrast to, say, Dean Lombardi, Snow clearly won't throw any player (even former players, or current players' former coaches) under even a toy bus, and he handles all of the questions with his typically careful style, but the close listener/observer can glean information here and there.

In general, Snow's answers painted the picture of an organization disappointed with this season but also persistently believing -- along with Jack Capuano -- that more consistent effort and nightly attention to detail is needed to change the tide of this season and "rattle off several wins in a row." One comment reflected something brought up often by commenters here over the last few months:

"Ironically, the perceived strength of our team in the offseason was scoring, and that has turned out not to be true."

What follows are notes from the show for those who weren't able to watch and might not get to watch the archive (which we'll post later).

Full Video

Followed by abridged notes, if you aren't able to watch...

Where are the GRITZ?!

On the departure of Zenon Konopka: Snow thinks the team aims for "team toughness" with help from Micheal Haley, Trevor Gillies, Tim Wallace types as needed.

State of the Team This Season

Since Snow was a fiery player, how would he react (as a player) to their record right now:

"I'd be pissed off."

On the Season Overall (abridged): "It's unacceptable that we stand where we are, and everyone in that room and on this staff feels that way, so [we're constantly looking for ways to correct it]."

Is He Happy with the Rebuild (abridged): "Not very happy with it right now because of where we sit in the standings. But it's a situation where a few years ago we knew there would be rough patches. ... [We] work every day to make it better. This is a team that to me can rattle off several wins in a row. ... it's about 60 minutes, consistent effort."

There was more to that section but I didn't catch it all, and you likely know what it is.

But Why Can't You Like Trade 1st-Round Picks and Prospects I Claim are No Good for Like a Star or Something? (That wasn't really the question, but the option of trading for a sniper or top D-man was brought up in several ways.)

Essentially the same: "We'd look at anything. But we're not going to make a trade that doesn't make sense."

Blueline Personnel

Aiming for a Top D-Man, and the Effort for Christian Ehrhoff: Essentially, they tried with Ehrhoff -- and one reason was the market for this type of player was thin. There are "different ways you can skin a cat" -- such as putting Brian Rolston on the point instead -- so if they saw something come available they'd look at it, but those top D players don't become available often.

Could Dylan Reese become a regular (abridged): "Dylan played extremely well in his time here. It's always good to have that kind of depth in the organization. We got some injured bodies back (Mark Eaton) ... it's a credit to him that when he was sent down after training camp he went down with a great attitude."

Overall, it was clear Reese is still seen as 8th in line.

Not re-signing Radek Martinek and Jack Hillen: Snow sounded like he appreciated what Martinek provided "in particular" and when healthy but the lingering question with him was always durability [and of course, Martinek got hurt at the World Championships and has been out this season with a concussion].

As for Hillen, Snow said they were interested in Hillen "in a depth role" but things didn't work out at the time and they moved on.


Why Blake Comeau was Waived: "We were in a situation where we weren't playing well as a team, and there weren't any trades that presented themselves ... David Ullstrom was playing at a high level at Bridgeport, and when he got the opportunity he ran with it." So Snow said it was more of a numbers game due to the play of Ullstrom, who Snow expects to be back "soon."

That sort of addresses the situation this fall but doesn't address if or why Comeau wasn't (or was he?) peddled on the trade market earlier in 2011, considering his place with the organization was apparently so tenuous. As expected, Snow didn't deride Comeau's play and sounded happy for him to get an opportunity elsewhere, but it's hard not to imagine the club was frustrated with Comeau in some way to let him go so easily and quickly.

Why Not Play Micheal Haley in the Lineup Every Game:

"I hear that question a lot." {smiles} "I know he's very popular with our fans."

Snow mentioned Haley's presence in the locker room, said it's a numbers game, reminded people that there are lots of guys fighting for that callup, and "Whenever we send a player to Bridgeport, we always emphasize that when we call down to [Brent Thompson] we want to know who's the best at" a certain role such as penalty killing, scoring, who's blocking shots, etc. "We're not going to recall someone based on reputation, we're going to do it based on who's performing."

Why is Nino Niederreiter playing 9 minutes here instead of 20 minutes in Portland: "I told Nino in September he'd be here all season, and I'm a man of my word. ... think Nino's done all he can do at that level."

Passengers and Such

A fan asked if Jack Capuano's post-game quotes ("passengers") after the Rangers game vs. Players' quotes indicated a rift: "No, not at all," Snow said. He said they were on the same page, the players were frustrated too, and pointed to flaws that needed correcting:

"About the little things. Blocking shots. Not turning the puck over. You don't have to hit a player like Matt Martin into the 10th row, but you need to rub him out, you need to separate your guy from the puck."


There were several questions on scouting and prospects (someone asked about Brock Nelson and Anders Lee), and the full video is worth a look for that as he discussed what happens in different locales. As an overall philosophy he re-iterated that character is key and from his perspective, a prospect's hockey sense is the easiest to pick up on.

* * *

Again, watch the full clip when available for full details and words, and other topics such as favorite arenas he'd like the Coliseum's successor to emulate, and what it's like to be a pro GM while also the father of several young kids.

Naturally there's nothing ground-breaking in the Q&A, but as far as I know Lombardi is the only GM who will break news or start fires (and send his PR team running to put them out) during media interviews, and no one comes out and says, "Yes, I think [Scapegoat X] is as bad as the loudest fans say he is."

That's great if you want more -- we all do, frankly -- but I'm more interested in people's impressions of what various Snow answers mean, rather than why they didn't air your question.

Why? Because what you'd reasonably expect from this exercise is a window into some of the thought processes behind some of the decisions that create the current organizational lineup. There is some of that (whether it should happen more often is another question). For probing deeper, I'd recommend watching the video to observe facial expressions of both King and Snow during some of the questions that were more interrogating in nature or carried specific opinions within the question.

My own read is that yes, of course he expected this team to have a better record than it does now and he still thinks they can make big strides this year. Whether he thought playoffs were likely this year -- I personally never did, but thought they should be in the bubble all season long -- is still subject to interpretation. I personally figured this season was destined to be another step in the rebuild process, but not as painful as it's been through the first 34 games.