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Cheaper than Therapy, Part 6: Patience for the Unbuild

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Aw, but I’m mad NOW!

Aw c’mon Judge, try to cheer up, will ya?

(When we last left our story, Marty Reasoner was in the present trying to find out about the past, and Mike McBea was in the past trying to repair the future. Let’s see how he’s getting on.)

September 13, 2017 - Rome wasn’t built in a month.

Of course, we were rather hoping Rome would be torn down, but the first few weeks of Mike McBea’s tenure almost [Ed. - ALMOST] makes you long for the action-packed days of Garth Snow’s decade-plus rebuild.

When the owners vowed changes when last season ended, we figured we’d have a new GM by, what? May 21st at the latest? But “due diligence” was the order of the day, as were speculations into Snow’s apparent unfireability: a contract with such an onerous severance as to make it impossible, compromising photos of everyone from Charles Wang to the Lord Mayor of London, perhaps the protection of a certain demonic sloth - take your pick.

Poll

Why wasn’t Garth Snow fired on April 10, 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Straight cash, homey
    (42 votes)
  • 12%
    Smile for the camera
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    Chippy knows best
    (9 votes)
  • 18%
    Other (speculate in comments)
    (14 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now

As May stretched into June and the team did that dreaded “due diligence” we’ve all come to know, it became obvious that this was Snow’s draft. And as July passed entirely, it went from “squint and you can understand it” to “they’re gonna keep him, aren’t they?” It took 50 days for his nominal replacement to arrive.

Meanwhile, the Islanders have, in fact, kept Snow - he’s still on the masthead, still presidentin’ the hockey operations, while Mike McBea, Invisible GM, has done... OK, not exactly nothing. He hired a well-respected scout (Yuri Yanchenko) to patrol Russia, perhaps with an eye to encouraging Ilya Sorokin to make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later. At the very least, he should be helpful in uncovering young talent in a market that the Isles have thus far been unable to tap into.

Beyond that, though... who knows?

No matter how you squint, it’s still Seidenberg and not Potvin on the roster.

The newest name there is Milan Michálek, in camp on a professional tryout. One can’t help but worry that if he makes it, it will send Josh Ho-Sang or Anthony Beauvillier to the minors. The defense still has a lot of depth, if by “depth” you mean “untried options behind the top four.” About Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak, who knows if we’re getting the knockout tandem of two seasons ago or the pair that struggled through overwork and bizarre demotions?

The bright side is that the guy making the decisions on demotions and roster composition and such is a career backup goaltender who understands the demands of the position and the challenges of... oh poop.

Well, it’s not the same career backup goaltender. Mike McBea never even made the big league, so it’s different - different I say! McBea has made several intermediate stops along the way from active netminder to general manager... scouting, player development. The man himself, Bill Torrey, got him involved with the Florida Panthers after his playing career dissolved in a cloud of DiPietran injuries. Dale Tallon kept him on as somewhat of a rover: he did some coaching in the farm system, was a vice-assistant-something or other in player development, and most intriguing, got involved in their analytics.

We say “intriguing” rather than “encouraging” because Tallon doesn’t have the most analytic-friendly reputation. McBea wound up cabbing it (metaphorically, at least) when Gerald Gallant was shown the door, and was home pondering until the Islanders called. He apparently went right back to pondering after his introductory press conference. In his defense, there was little else to do by the time he was hired; but we note that he said a lot about making wise decisions, not just fast ones. For a fanbase that has gotten precious little wisdom or speed, that’s not the most welcome introduction. It’s even worse when the entire coaching staff has been returned intact. Doug Weight has probably earned his shot, but the Isles waited so long to bring McBea aboard that they missed out on a possible upgrade in Gallant, who went to helm the brand-new Golden Knights of Vegas instead of following McBea to Brooklyn.

The games will soon begin. Clock’s a-tickin’.