The most recent SB Nation Reacts confidence survey shows a continued upward trend in the fanbase’s collective view of the New York Islanders. (Sign up here to join Reacts and vote in these quick weekly surveys.)
That’s no surprise, given how February went. What’s perhaps more interesting is how people’s support broke down for the coach vs. the GM.
But first: According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, 78 percent of New York Islanders fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That is up from 50 percent the previous week and 35 percent before that, our season’s lowpoint. (The highpoint at the left of the graph below comes from the Islanders’ run to the conference final.)
Barry? He’s the Best
In a recent Islanders Anxiety podcast, Mike and Dan mused: “We talk about it all the time, but it’s scary to think where this team would be if Barry Trotz didn’t arrive.”
Indeed, so much has happened since the day Trotz arrived during that pivotal summer. We still quibble over individual lineup decisions and the accountability approach to veterans vs. rookies, but by and large so much of where the Islanders are has to do with having the best coach they’ve had since Al Arbour.
So much so that every single respondent said they’re confident in Barry Trotz.
What about Barry’s boss?
Well that’s where things get more nuanced. Trotz would not be here without Lou Lamoriello, full stop. Every discussion of Lamoriello’s performance tends to begin at that point.
But Lou draws more criticism from Isles fans than the coach does, perhaps because of the expansive set of responsibilities and visible decisions he has.
Some wonder about Lou’s cap management and old school ways. The lengthy deals given to the Leo Komarovs and Matt Martins, and what have you. Others feel like prospects aren’t given opportunity over vets (though that’s on the coach too), though the natural counterpoint is the blossoming of Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom.
If I could sum up where a vast array of different opinions overlap, the concern is that while Lamoriello’s done so much to improve the organization and massively increase the respect it commands, that final 5-10% to make them elite and get them all the way may be beyond his reach. That dose of modernism needed for managing the game (and the cap) in 2021 is where people say “Yes, but...”
Anyway, it’ll be fun to track changes in this question as results put us in happier or fouler moods.
The national question from this survey had to do with the commissioner.
From a national perspective, confidence is very split. Just over half of hockey fans around the league said they are confident in Gary Bettman as NHL commissioner. The mark has dropped a few points from 56 percent over last summer.
I’ve never refrained from criticizing Bettman, but I also find him to be pretty good at his number one job — pleasing and raising revenue for his bosses, the owners. I’d venture he’s having a pretty good decade, all in all.
(As an aside, I lived through the John Ziegler and Gil Stein eras and, well, it could be worse.)
This is SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NHL. Each week, SB Nation sends out questions to the most plugged in New York Islanders fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts and vote in the weekly surveys.