Friday, August 01, 2008


1) We're not trying to pile on here, but there doesn't seem to be much else to talk about in hockey right now and besides Ted Nolan is very intriguing and interesting to us. We are fascinated by the hot and sexy chief! The guys at Fauxrumors have long fantasized about being with a native american like him, but sadly have not yet enjoyed that pleasure. What struck us was the huge contrast of the good feelings fans tell us they had in the summer of 2006 following the ouster of Mike Milbury as team's GM. At the time many folks tell us it was like a cathartic experience. Finally the 'wicked witch' was gone, etc. The team seemed poised to take a fresh direction. A new GM and coach would be hired and possibly they would buy-out salary cap anchor/underachiever Alex Yashin. At first things looked quite bright indeed as Wang jointly hired former Ranger Cup winning GM, Neil Smith to handle the same duties on LI where he got his start in NHL management under Bill Torry. It was a feel good story of home grown talent coming back to his roots, etc. Smith was respected around the league and brought credibility where there was a dearth of that since Milbury took over in 1996.

2) Next the 'feel good' story continued with the hiring of previously blackballed Ted Nolan. He seemed genuinely thrilled to be hired as coach. It looked like he was as excited, if not more than the fans at the prospect of having a real NHL coach behind the bench navigating the team. Additionally, Wang brought back 2 wayward sons in Bryan Trottier to handle player development, and Pat LaFontaine as advisor to Wang in the newly created panel. Both Patty and Trotts had had falling out with past Isles owners so it was nice to see both back on the Island where they started they Hall of Fame Careers.

3) The good feelings however didn't last long, and the current disorganized/bizarre predicament began. A mere month after taking over as GM, and after negotiating several UFA to come to LI (Sillinger/Witt) Neil Smith was abruptly fired by Wang. Apparently Smith didn't fully realize when he took the job that the title of GM was in name only; That all decisions first had to be first cleared through Wang (and the other members of the panel). Smith rightly balked at this, and as others have found out before and since, you don't screw with Wang.

4) The next move is what really amazed the folks throughout the NHL. Almost immediately after Smith was unceremoniously let go, he was replaced with the teams current back up goalie Garth Snow. It was unprecedented to have an active player under contract propelled into such a high level of management, literally overnight. Snow was/is a bright guy with a degree in business, possibly making him a good candidate to be an asst GM, but hardly the top spot in over seeing player-personel moves by an NHL franchise. Pat Lafontaine tried to convince Wang to reconsider his rash decision of dismissing Smith. Seeing how things were really being done there, and as a friend of Smith, Pat Lafontaine imeadiatly gave notice of his resignation. Further giving the organization a black eye. Wang didn't forget/forgive Patty for this transgression as we found out this past season.

5) The final nail in the coffin was the way in which Nolan was canned. We won't rehash this as we already wrote about this extensively here.----->nolan-tossed-off-island. We also want to make it perfectly clear that our intention was NOT to pile on Islander fans. Clearly the good and loyal folks who root for their team should be commended for sticking with them the past 15 odd years. It has been a roller coaster of ups and unfortunately for you guys, mostly downs. We can only hope that Snow now has the experience and as importantly, the authority to make the right decisions going forward. The team now is stating it is in a 'youth movement. That's another word for 'rebuilding', or a euphemism for 'we're going to suck' this year. Hopefully for those folks the team will stick with it and retain the good assets, and finally show/have some management stability. As we wrote on the excellent islandersarmy blog; There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but it may merely be a LIRR express to Jamaica. ; ) As long as Wang seems to be a hands on owner we fear that the Isles will not truly become a contending team and remain the butt of jokes. We want to be on record here and now that we sincerely hope this is NOT the case.

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