Thanks for all the questions. Good to know you're still reading. Please feel free to continue to post your questions in the Comments area. The first one comes from NYIBC and is about GM Garth Snow.
In my 20 years of being strictly an Islander fan (I was one of those morons who rooted for ALL the teams in my early hockey watching years), the one constant with going to games, and getting to know people that worked for the organization, was you.
You have always been one of professionalism, honesty, and one that I respected so much. I just needed to get that statement out first.
As far as questions go... We had Garth Snow at our Booster Club meeting last night, and I can tell you that he is a great presence in front of a crowd, which I know you are aware of. I know that he is a smart man, and is doing the best he can for this organization. I am not making this question a negative, but with his 'still new in the job' air about him, what does he have to do, in order to not have a repeat of last year, where it seemed that guys with contracts that were ending basically just up and left, with little or no dialogue (at least according to this person).
Once again, Chris, best of luck, in whatever you do. I know that you will succeed! Look forward to seeing you as a fan!
Thanks for the nice words, NYIBC. I'm looking forward to going to a game and seeing everyone, too.
As for Garth, this might not sound like much but it's really a lot: he has to continue to assert himself as a leader.
By this I mean that my friend Garth has to have the courage to devise his plan, stick by it and fight to make sure no one - no one - runs any interference to cause him to deviate from the plan. In the wild world of sports, this is often more easily said than done.
First off, the notion that there weren't any discussions with the free agents who left last season? Positively false. There were negotiations with Blake, Smyth, Kozlov and Poti. Some ended earlier than others, some went to the last minute.
I don't think you could compare what will happen this July to last July. The Islanders were a playoff team in '06-07. Signings were made to advance that group, even with the departures. Some of the deals worked out OK, some not. In the cases of veterans like Guerin, Comrie and the injured Jon Sim, I would recommend reserving judgment until next season.
I agree with Garth's contention - reiterated at the event on Wednesday (I watched the ITV clips) - that the team has to go young. My personal belief is that for the New York Islanders on Long Island in a soon-to-be transformed arena property, the best way - possibly the only way - to build a true contender is through the draft and college and junior free agent signings. With Charles as the owner and the Coliseum project advancing, if you successfully draft, the kids will quickly learn to love the franchise and Long Island and you know the team will sign them long-term. The Islanders have shown a willingness to do that, in one case in landmark fashion.
Of course, at the proper time, you sprinkle in wise free agent signings. The kids can't do it alone.
Garth is going to be fine. Actually, he's going to be more than that. While I was at the game in Philadelphia last night, loving every second of the skill and passion on the ice, the sheer delirium in the stands, I thought a lot about how if the Islanders really stay patient, this could be them in a few years. Naturally, I'm biased, but I feel strongly Garth is the person to get it done.