It's not every day that owner Charles Wang speaks on the record about the New York Islanders organizational philosophy. It's not every day that a print outlet has room to run a full quote with all of its intended meaning.
Today, on the opening day of camp, is one of those days.
At the end of Newsday's piece on the homegrown Islanders and how their expectations and confidence have increased, there was this from the owner who prefers the background these days:
"When I look at the plans we had, we're a year off. A year behind," Wang said. "We should have had that season [last year] one year earlier. There's no guarantees, but we think we have pretty good ingredients. The direction, the guiding light to where we're going, that hasn't changed. We want to do it economically, we're not going to throw money at this -- we've seen the failures of all the teams that have tried that. We want to set a core, a value system, a culture for a team, a group of guys together, that will last longer.
"I think we've done that and we'll keep doing that."
This approach leads to underpaying Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson and Andrew MacDonald and -- ye gods, John Tavares -- and overpaying Josh Bailey and overtrusting Evgeni Nabokov's goaltending. Not by a lot, in the grand scheme, but by enough where the Islanders' organizational attempt at building a "family" or "core" atmosphere is clear. The response from the players has been, more often than not, an implicit "Yeah I could make a little more on the open market but I like what we're building here."
Blake Comeau and Nino Niederreiter and Rob Schremp, for a variety of performance-based reasons, were cut from the family. Michael Grabner and Colin MacDonald were not.
Call it voodoo or call it kool-aid, it's been consistent and the player who've stuck with it seem happier for it. (It can't hurt to have the inspirational Tavares leading the charge.)
It's far from a perfect formula. The advantage vs. other teams it creates may be negligible (especially if they stay low budget). But it's a philosophy. They're sticking to it. These are your Islanders.