Former player Garth Snow, GM of the New York Islanders, made the transition from player to the front office in a quick unorthodox manner in 2006. Snow attended the University of Maine where he studied business, but jumping right in as a GM never happens in professional sports. Islanders owner Charles Wang saw something in Snow, and decided to fire Neil Smith and give him an opportunity to turn the franchise around.
Snow was aggressive in his first year as GM and pulled the trigger at the deadline to bring in skilled forward Ryan Smyth. Smyth was a hot commodity at this point, but he decided to leave the Islanders after the season ended. Snow gambled and lost, but he showed the fans he was willing to take risks.
Unfortunately for Snow, his tenure as GM has been riddled with mistakes and shortcomings. Drafting Josh Bailey in the first round and trading Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck will probably go down as the worst two decisions Snow has made in his career. Bailey has struggled to live up to the hype and has been the most inconsistent player this organization has had in years.
Nino has the potential to be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL, and was also a first-round selection of Snow. Snow mishandled his development, and upset Nino and his agent. The GM knew he dropped the ball and moved him for an average winger in Clutterbuck to avoid confrontation.
Coming into the 2013-14 season, the Islanders were poised to return to the playoffs. Snow needed to get a goalie and bring in a top-four defenseman in order to make the team a contender. Instead, Snow signed two inconsistent forwards in Pierre Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin, and did nothing to fill the void in net or at the blue line. Snow believed the Islanders could win with Evgeni Nabokov and Matt Carkner in the lineup, which is ludicrous.
Snow saw how his team was performing in the beginning of this season and decided to make a trade for Thomas Vanek. He traded Matt Moulson, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick for Vanek. Snow thought this move would make the difference for the Islanders and help the team make the playoffs.
I was in favor of this move when it happened and am a huge fan of Vanek, but Snow continues to ignore the pressing issues the team has. The Islanders are able to score goals, but they are not able to prevent them.
The rebuild has been going on for seven years now, and fans are tired of hearing about next season. The time to win is now, and Snow needs to be held accountable for his actions. It also doesn’t help that Wang doesn’t permit Snow to make the expensive moves this team needs to take the next step.
I think the Islanders should keep Snow on a short leash for now. If the team does not make the playoffs next season, the Islanders should consider replacing him with a more experienced GM when they move to Brooklyn.