Change, chaos, and crushed expectations are the only constants in the NHL. This year will be no different. Their are a fistful of players, coaches, and general managers who might not be in the same position next year. For some it s the hand they were dealt, for others they were the dealer.

Marc-Andre Fleury

The Flower needs to bloom like never before this season. Yes he won a Stanley Cup, but he also allowed more goals than any other keeper that year. Since then he’s been a consistent disappointment in the playoffs, even losing the starting job in one year. This is the last year of his contract, there’s a new general manager, a new coach and some important departures on the blueline. As of now, only 3 of his 8 playoff appearances have ended with a saves percentage over .900.

Joe Thornton

Not only has he had the captaincy of the San Jose Sharks stripped from him, the last week or so of camp he was skated with players who would have trouble holding onto a second line job in the AHL. I don’t know if the messages is coming from coaching alone or if it has the blessing of management behind it. While Joe Thornton is not the MVP level player he was five or six years ago, he’s still a top shelf player, but who knows how long he’ll put up with the disrespect in the building, on the other hand management could decide he either accepts a trade or he doesn’t play.

Kevin Cheveldayoff

The general manager of the Winnipeg Jets has taken “more of the same only different” to a new home. Specifically the general manager who took over when the Jets set Atlanta firmly behind the afterburner and headed true north. Since landing in Manitoba the Jets have sputtered, muttered and done little else. Any objective observer has to question his personnel decisions, his long term strategy, and even his hockey sense.

Garth Snow

In the topsy-turvy world of the NHL, it is a little hard to believe that Garth Snow has been on the job since 2006. That’s a pretty long time in NHL time, more than dog years almost technology years. While its hard to tell how much of the failure to thrive of the Islanders is his doing and how much is Wang’s this team has not won a playoff round in his tenure. They have in fact only won three playoff games. The recent moves should make the team measurably better both in the regular season and the playoffs, that still may not be enough to keep him in place once ownership changes.

I admit it, I was wrong. Partly this was due to overestimating the wit of some folks, and underestimating the patience of others. I expected first year coach Scott McLelleln of the embattled New Jersey Devils to be the first coach fired.  While I can’t say that I expect him to challenge Lindy Ruff’s tenure, the first coach to go down is shocking given what we know about the team.

Facts:

  1. The New York Islanders are not a talented team.
  2. The New York Islanders have injuries at key positions.
  3. The New York Islanders scooped their now former head coach out of the AHL.
  4. No one with the sense to pour piss out of a boot without a sixty minute instructional video believed the New York Islanders were headed to the playoffs this year
  5. It’s likely that that most people pegged the New York Islanders as a lottery team this season, particularly after the injury to Mark Streit.
  6. A team that has the creaky and decrepit 22 year old Kyle Okposo as its senior building block is in trouble as far as depth.

So opening up Twitter and reading that former Providence Bruins coach Scott Gordon has been fired for failing to turn pig turds into silk purses calls into question the sanity of the upper management. Last seasons points leader wunderkid John Tavares has aleardy missed time with an injury, and is lead by four players in points, the goal tending has occasionally soared to putrid, and the man who led the next nearest Islander last season by nearly 500 minutes in ice time and was third in scoring hasn’t played a game, and oh yeah, the teams ahead of them in the division reinforced over the off season with a guy who block a hundred plus shots a season and as many hits, a fifty goal scorer, and a thirty goal scorer

Yes, the Islanders play has been horrific this season, and a ten game losing streak is something no one wants their team to have. But a coaching move should be something that will positively impact the team immediately. A coaching change is also essentially a blank check to underperforming  players with “There, there, poor baby its not your fault.” written on the memo line. More importantly, no coaching change is going to change the talent on the roster. There are many other things a team with more than sixteen million in cap space, and several top shelf prospects could do to ignite their team. Trading one or both of Kyril or Kiril outside the conference for a solid defensemen to fill the shoes of Streit, or using them to pluck some NHL ready talent from one of the cap strapped teams in the NHL. Guys can be demoted, young studs can be called up from the minors or even juniors.

Last Dash:

I will not be surprised to see other coaches fired this season, most if not all of them with more reason than this, I will also be in no way surprised if Scott Gordon is picked to succeed one of the other terminated coaches.

Misters Snow & Wang a vocal portion of the media thinks you should be singing:

I’ve got a bad, bad reputation.

a bad, bad reputation.

(My apologies to Winger)

And not do much else other than mutter over past failures instead of going for future success.

What these writers want is an easy punching bag they can hit every time their editors deign to notice the existence of the NHL and demand a story. You can tell by the dearth of information they base their stories on. They point to wildly different persons and eras and defend their position with the ferocity, posturing and volume of an irate toy poodle.

Said pundits don’t seem to think that the same proven strategy that teams have used for decades will work in the case of the Islanders, apparently because you are the Islanders. No one seems to mind the idea of this years most dynamic free agent landing under the bright lights and palm trees, but the very idea of a legitimate superstar landing in the house that Bossy built sets a quiver more than a bad day on the San Andreas fault.

Even the possibility of Kovalchuk to the Islanders is sneered at, but when the Blackhawks slid Brian Campbell into their back pocket little was said, when Hossa was added he was derided but only for about five minutes, Patrick Sharp is almost ignored despite his contribution. None of them were home grown all of them as well as fellow free agent Niemi played their part in the championship.

The Penguins brought in Gonchar, Guerin, Gill, Scuderi and others to power them to the top. I defy anyone to tell convince me the latter pair were not as important to their campaign as the teams better know top centers. Huge parts were played by men drafted elsewhere.

So why is it again that when Snow wants the men he drafted to get their Hossa or Campbell or Sharp he’s ridiculed worse for not yet signing a player than Sather is for his annual brain fart signing? The New York Islanders have a solid base to build on. Tavares looks to live up to his billing, Okposo is doing his thing, Moulson has blossomed. They had more than a dozen 2008 picks some of whom should be working their way into the lineup over the next to seasons. Nino and the two Kyrill’s are likely to be a going concern sooner rather than later. The time to integrate a high end free agent into the teams matrix of talent and tools is either now or quite soon.

From a purely business standpoint the thought of having Kovalchuk, Gaborik, Crosby, Malkin, Pronger, Brodeur, Tavares and Richards all in the same division ought to make TV execs salivate. With Gaborik vs Kovulchuk you’ve got two of the most talented goal scorers in the league going head to head. You could see a line of Okposo – Tavares – Kovulchuk matched up against the Penguins finest finesse forwards one night, throwing down with the brutally physical Pronger and company the next and follow it up with a trip to face the man some think is the best goaltender of all time.

From the star power point of view, Kovulchuk gets the Islanders immediate creditability to attract other high quality free agents. I suspect that if inked to a long term deal there will probably also be just a few more Islanders Jerseys, t-shirts, pucks, duffle bags, foam fingers, and food concessions sold. I also can’t shake the belief that the New York Islanders home attendance, might just crawl out of the sewer and get to a respectable percentage instead of fourth worst in the NHL as it was in 2000-2010.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t bet against getting one of the ten most recognizable names in the NHL signed to the roster hurting when negotiating for a new arena either. When the arena comes, with two or three years of better hockey in Blue & Orange filling the newer, larger arena might be a teeny bit easier.

It doesn’t matter what level you want to discuss it on, Kovulchuk to the Islanders makes sense as long as he wants to go there, and Snow, Wang and company continue the process of relocating the team from the outhouse to the penthouse.

Here’s another man’s take on the Islanders rebuilding hatred.