EAST MEADOW, N.Y. - After 12 years in the general manager’s seat, Garth Snow is being reassigned by the New York Islanders to a new role, one he’s also very familiar with.
Snow will move from the front office to the ice after being named the club’s back-up goalie today, the exact opposite path he took a dozen years ago. He was installed as Islanders GM in 2006 immediately after retiring as a player in one of the most memorable and bizarre promotions in NHL history.
Co-owner Jon Ledecky said that while the return move is unusual, it allows the Islanders to find a new voice to lead their club while also allowing Snow to remain a part of the team he constructed.
“Garth has been a loyal Islander for over 15 years as both a player and an executive,” Ledecky said in a statement released via the team’s Twitter account. “But this change makes sense on multiple levels. Trust me.
“When the Islanders take the ice at their brand new arena at Belmont Park in 2021, Garth Snow will be there. Out of the front office and on the ice where he should be.”
Requests for an interview with Snow were denied by the Islanders PR staff, but he did respond via text message saying he is comfortable with playing behind players he acquired because, “We like our group.”
Playing and Managing Experience is Key
The Islanders have missed the NHL playoffs in the last two seasons, causing Snow - who also served as team president and alternate governor - to come under a great deal of fire from the franchise’s frustrated fanbase. In his 12 years as GM, Snow’s Islanders made the playoffs just four times and advanced only once in their first trip to the second round in 23 years. The team underwent a full rebuild under his watch - resulting in the drafting of star and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent John Tavares first overall in 2009 - but fans expected the team to be much closer to a Stanley Cup than they are this many years later.
Before all that, Snow was a goalie for the Quebec Nordiques, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Islanders from 1993 to 2006, racking up a record of 135 wins, 147 losses and 44 ties and/or shootout losses. Islanders head coach Doug Weight, who was Snow’s assistant GM for several seasons before taking over behind the bench, sees Snow’s playing and managing experience as a key reason why this move is the right one.
“Snowy’s kept himself in tremendous shape over the years and I believe he can be an NHL goaltender again,” Weight said. “He’s still got good size at 6-foot-3 and he’s always had a high battle level.
“He’s also let a lot of players walk away as free agents so he knows the league very well. We can use some of that to our advantage.”
Creative Contract Solution?
At 48-years-old, Snow will easily be the oldest player in the NHL. He may also be one of the highest paid.
Sources suggest Snow was given a very long and very lucrative contract extension by former Islanders owner Charles Wang before he sold the team to Ledecky and co-owner Scott Malkin in 2014. Some around the NHL believe that keeping him as a back-up goalie allows the owners to avoid having to hand Snow a large payout while also not having him run the team anymore.
The Islanders declined to comment on Snow’s contract status, as well as who would succeed him as general manager. Earlier reports say the leading candidate may be New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
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