The New York Islanders, in the home stretch of a disappointing non-playoff season, shook up their front office today, naming their official Facebook page President of Hockey Operations.
The Facebook page, which has more than 170,000 likes and is known for scathing comments and reactionary vitriol following any Islanders transaction, charity event announcement or game, is expected to bring a sense of accountability and a focus on winning to a team that has recently been the subject of protests by fans tired of an extended rebuild period.
"After hearing the chanting from the fans during the games against Buffalo and Minnesota, I liked some of their innovative ideas and wanted to hear more," Islanders owner Charles Wang said. "I felt we needed another set of eyes and ears in the room and another voice to bounce ideas off of. So I figured, why stop at one voice? Why not have hundreds or even thousands of voices? Truth be told, I always felt we never fully explored the committee idea anyway."
"So I told [general manager] Garth [Snow] this is what we're doing and that's that. He's fine with it."
The Facebook page replaces no one, since the Islanders did not currently have a president of hockey operations.
According to Wang, the Facebook page will begin consulting on the team's day-to-day operations immediately via comments sections posted under updates by Snow. All aspects of the team are open for discussion, including the coaches, scouting, strength and conditioning and other facets of hockey operations.
"I've long heard that Garth just needs a senior adviser with experience to help this team," Wang said. "I can think of no better experience, nor more insightful advice, than that of someone who takes the time to type, 'I told U guys, Vaneks SOO LAZY,,, Why won this teem HIT?!!!!!'
"It's time advice like this get heavier consideration," Wang said.
With other teams such as Carolina, Vancouver Nashville and Calgary believed to be planning offseason management shakeups, it's believed the Islanders wanted to strike quickly before another team offered their Facebook page more money -- and more say in personnel matters.
"Every comment will be read and considered," said Snow, holding up his iPhone with the Islanders Facebook page on its screen. "If there's a move out there that improves our club, we'll try to make it. If there's one that we didn't think of before - like trading half our prospects for another team's aging, expensive superstar - we'll discuss that and see where it takes us."
It's early, but Snow says that the experience of having a Facebook page as his boss has so far been a positive one and has opened his eyes to new perspectives.
"I'm not much of a computer geek or couch potato, so I had no idea Facebook had so much to offer," he said. "Right now, for instance, I'm looking to score a glass of this free Kool-Aid everyone keeps talking about. But that must be on another e-mail or www or something."
This isn't the first time the Islanders have ventured into uncharted waters with an unusual choice at the helm. From the 15-year contract awarded to little proven goalie Rick DiPietro to a general-manager-by-committee approach that lasted a scant 40 days and ended with their former backup goalie named GM to broadcasting their games on a college radio station to cutting the credentials of a widely-read team sponsored blogger to acquiring a goalie just for his cap hit, Wang and his team have always marched to a different drummer.
Now, they'll march to the beat of several thousand drummers across the globe before a pen touches any paper.
"We're already hearing a lot of really innovative ideas," Wang said. "One guy brought up the concept of 'draft mulligans' which I think is something we should present at the next Board of Governors meeting. Another comment reads, 'it's obvious that Josh Bailey and Calvin deHaan were overdrafts and we need to fix that situation immediately by trading them for Erik Karlsson and Ryan O'Reilly.
"And that's just in the first few comments. There are hundreds more here that I can read while I drink my coffee in the morning at home."
The team has a critical off-season ahead of it, trying to return to the playoffs after qualifying last season for the first time since 2007. The Islanders have not progressed beyond the first round of the playoffs since 1993.
"As a businessman, I always say if you're not pushing forward, you're falling behind," Wang said. "I think this move will help return the Islanders to greatness and bring a Stanley Cup back to Long Island. And if it doesn't, we can just unfriend each other."
Despite the demands of dozens of members of the new President of Hockey of Operations, the NHL refuses to step in and undo the unusual arrangement, nor to force the team to hire "a real Facebook page" as president. But regardless of its resume, the Islanders Facebook page is thought to be the first non-human to hold an executive position with an NHL club since the ghost of Harold Ballard controlled the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1991 to 2003.
This is fake. Everyone knows Pinterest is where the real fans are.