Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have spoken with people around the hockey world about possible front office positions with the team, according to a report by Arthur Staple of Newsday.
Staple cites league sources saying that since they became majority owners on July 1st, Ledecky and Malkin have been scouting the NHL for someone to act as team president, a role general manager Garth Snow holds now. The names are ones you’ll recognize, although some may surprise you: Pat LaFontaine, Pat Brisson and former player Brad Richards.
LaFontaine served briefly in an executive role for the Islanders as senior adviser for 40 days in 2006, hired along with Neil Smith and then departing the organization the same day Smith was let go before Snow was hired. LaFontaine also served briefly as president of hockey operations for the Sabres, spending less than four months there before rejoining the NHL as a vice president of hockey development.
Richards retired after last season after a 16-year career with five teams, including the Rangers, and winning two Stanley Cups. He recently spent time with Ledecky at an Islanders game at Barclays Center after Don Meehan, the head of Newport Sports agency and Richards’ longtime agent, suggested to Ledecky that the two meet.
The very connected Brisson is John Tavares’ agent, but he was linked to the Penguins GM job before Jim Rutherford was hired in 2014.
Major Note: No hiring is imminent, according to Staple.
We’ve done this dance with LaFontaine before, who has been rumored to be on the verge of buying the franchise for years. That option isn’t available now, and as Staple notes, his stints in NHL front offices has been short ones. He’s also an executive with the NHL, runs his own charity organization and occasionally meets the Pope. But maybe this is the team gig that sticks. As a shameless LaFontaine fanboy, I’m kinda hoping it is.
As for the recently retired Richards, I can’t think of a team that’s ever hired an executive so soon after they hung up their skates. Oh. Wait. Yes I can...
Other names mentioned in the piece are Kevin Gilmore, former Canadiens COO who Le Journal De Montreal reported had been hired as a consultant by the Islanders in August. Staple says he was up for a president’s position, but nothing was finalized. And because he knows exactly what you’re thinking, Staple notes that Florida president Dale Tallon has not been contacted by could possibly be an option should the Islanders investigate.
It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, especially now that it’s public. Part of me is wary of adding another voice to a team that, I still feel, needs a full front office reset. LaFontaine intrigues me, obviously, but Richards kind of scares me. I’m sure he’s a sharp dude and was a good player and all, but I’d prefer the team seek a more seasoned president, like Tallon. Brisson’s inclusion reminds me of when Wayne Gretzky’s agent Mike Barnett was named GM of the Coyotes. He was fired after six seasons and replaced by Don Maloney. I have no idea if that means anything at all.
In any event, wheels are in motion and the owners are looking at ways to improve the team. We’ll have to wait and see who, if anyone, gets the gig and what kind of role they’ll have be before we can evaluate and eventually blame them for everything.