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Islanders News: There is no Plan C

All focus is on a three-way intersection of Tavares’ wishes, management’s role in the drama, and ownership’s desire to make it all work out.

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The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me. ~Animal House
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It’s safe to say a strong majority, or at least the majority of the vocal, among the Islanders fanbase wanted heads to roll yesterday as the Islanders finished “clear out”/exit interview days and the bosses spoke with media.

It’s safe to say the ownership never wanted that to happen.

What happens from here is no clearer. I’m not oriented to defend management, but I am oriented to attempt to understand them. I’m not yet convinced they are 100% intent on retaining current management and coaching; as a relatively new ownership group, they may sincerely want to evaluate Snow/Weight but do not realize how time is already wasting — all of which again raises the issue of whether they think standing pat increases their chances of keeping Tavares.

Regardless of what’s truly going through their heads, it is a continuation of the status quo that has kind of (self)handcuffed them for the past year:

  • The Islanders (including ownership) really, really want to re-sign John Tavares.
  • Tavares really wants, in an ideal world, to be an Islander for life but only if he feels like it positions him to hoist the Cup, and it’s not clear what ingredients he believes are required there. (Remember that this is a player who evidently has long believed in Garth Snow and Doug Weight.)
  • Ownership isn’t clear if that means keeping Tavares’ “trusted” associates in Snow and Weight is the way to go, or making drastic moves that show We Want To Win.

Thus we have the current stalemate, continued. It’s not so much that Tavares has held them hostage, rather they’ve allowed their interpretation of how best to maximize their chances of keeping Tavares to hold them hostage.

With ownership reportedly in frequent contact with Tavares’ agent Pat Brisson, the captain’s camp has surely known all along that he would be afforded this leeway.

Behind their own agent-client closed doors, Brisson’s likely said, “You have all the leverage. By all means, explore the market to see what feels best, you can always do a Stamkos and come back home before the signing period begins. Oh, and also, regarding Snow/Weight: Question if you believe in a franchise that would rather put that decision essentially in your hands rather than make the decision themselves.”

Tavares has laser-like focus on his own job as a player. He pulled off the impossible this year by performing at near career-highs without showing the effects of the Looming Decision. But even if he feels great comfort in the Snow/Weight combo, he may question why that matters. Players play, managers manage; why can’t they do their part?

On that note, if the ultimate negotiations are/will happen between ownership and Tavares’ camp, where does that leave Snow in offseason planning? He said yesterday re-signing Tavares is their “Plan A and Plan B.” You don’t have to be a fan of this team for the last dozen years to snort that there probably is no Plan C.

Islanders Reading

  • Again, the ownership statement by Jon Ledecky about evaluating everything for “long-term success” sounds right, it just sounds late. It puts the next three months of hockey operations in a weird place. [The Athletic | Newsday] (But hey, if Tavares can focus under such conditions...)
  • Tavares re-iterates he prefers to stay but also wants to explore and has earned that right. [NHL] “You realize you don’t know how many opportunities you get to get to this point and possibly see what the landscape is. And I don’t even necessarily know if that’s what I really want to do yet.” [Post]
  • With that in mind, Dan has opened Volume 3 of the Tavares Free Agency Encyclopedia, with lots of pertinent quotes, links and observations from yesterday, and an awesome comic-style opening. [LHH]
  • On the non-Tavares/management front, news from exits include Johnny Boychuk to surgery, Anthony Beauvillier to the World Championship, and free agent Thomas Hickey and emergent blueliner Ryan Pulock singing each other’s praises. [LHH]
  • The cake is a lie: “Ledecky and Malkin talk a big game, spend a lot of money ... and kick a lingering, obvious can down the road.” [LHH]
  • Ledecky is “one billion percent” focused on Belmont; Snow isn’t bothered by Ho-Sang’s comments; Tavares elected not to go to the Worlds this year. [Post]
  • “Ledecky had a month to get it right and couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.” [SNY]
  • Why yes, a Calder trophy would be special for young Mathew Barzal. [Newsday]
  • The league says the Ronkonkoma arena proposal does not involve them. [Newsday]
  • Just a day after his own exit meeting on Long Island, Tanner Fritz was back in the Sound Tigers lineup at 1C. [CT Post]
  • The Sound Tigers started well, then lost to the Penguins. [Soundin’ Off]
  • For the ECHL playoffs, Eamon McAdam, Ryan MacKinnon and Jeff Kubiak are assigned to Worcester. [Soundin’ Off]
  • On 720 AHL games for Tom Kostopoulos. [Soundin’ Off]

Beyond Our Little Drama

  • Speaking of owners doing their thing, the new Hurricanes owner conducted exit interviews, spouted cliches about getting “tougher players” and generally instilled no one with confidence. But maybe it’s crazy enough to all work out? [News & Observer]
  • For fun though, here are what Canes management has said year after year during its playoff drought. [News & Observer]
  • A question that comes up every year: Was this Ken Hitchcock’s last year as coach? [Dallas News]
  • An analytical preview of the Eastern playoffs. Will Columbus’ special teams prevent them from taking down the Capitals? [TSN]
  • Ryan O’Reilly admits “comfort with losing” has set into the Sabres locker room. [Buffalo Beat]
  • Ilya Kovalchuk sounds headed to the Rangers, but for how long? [Blueshirt Banter]
  • Fantasy strategies and tips for the playoffs. [TSN]