I am going to resume writing this blog now without the support of Bleacher Report and The Islanders Blog Box. It has been a tough year personally and I did not write for a long time and writing about the Islanders was something I really enjoyed despite the team's struggles. Enough about that let us jump right back in.
I sat at the Islander game on Sunday against Florida watching the Islanders blow for a loss the twelvth third period lead of the season that had me wondering why I continue to support a team that is so inept. The answer to that question is pretty simple as I am sure it is the same for the 13,000+ fans that showed up on Sunday also. We love hockey and we do not abandon our favorite team. If you were going to abandon the Islanders believe me, we would have done it by now considering the calamity of failure Islander fans have endured.
If you look at just this season you shake your head in disbelief at what has gone wrong in Islander Land.
Charles Wang has completely vanished. Look around the Coliseum and you will not see him any where. Is he afraid of fan backlash from fans angry about the move to Brooklyn? Is he embarrassed at the teams horrendous performance this season? Is he looking for a buyer for the Islanders? No one knows the answers to these questions because Mr. Wang simply is not talking. We as fans can speculate but at the end of the day all that and a rain shower gets us is wet.
The team has absolutely no idea how to play with a lead. The Islanders are really good at jumping out to leads. That in of itself shows the team has the talent to compete at a high level in the NHL. Sure their defense is on the weak side and the goal tending has been questionable but the team has the talent. John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Tomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner give them the scoring punch up front. The young players Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee bring a ton of promise. The defense with Lubomir Visnovsky (when healthy) Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Hickey are quick and mobile.
I know what you are thinking. If all that is true, what went wrong this year? The answer is quite simple. You can blame goaltending, injuries, a weak defense but the blame must fall squarely on Head Coach Jack Capuano's shoulders. The man is supposed to be the one who teaches the team not only his system but what to do in certain situations such as holding a lead. If the team does not know how to play with a lead, which the Islanders obviously do not, then there is a reason for that. Jack Capuano has failed at his job. I like Capuano as a person but he is simply out of his league here. For the first time in years the Islanders came in with high expectations this season after last years run to the playoffs.
If hockey was a two period game the Islanders would be among the top teams in the NHL. If you look at the numbers they are simply staggering. The Islanders have taken 15 games into the third period with a lead and wound up with a loss or an overtime loss in THIRTEEN of them. That constitutes a loss in points of roughly 20 points. People wonder what the problem is this season with the Islanders? There it is right there. How Jack Capuano still has a job is simply mind-boggling because the on ice performance of the team falls directly on his lap.
The Thomas Vanek trade has been debated about for months and now he is on the verge of being traded from the Islanders along with long time Islander Andrew MacDonald. Both turned down multi-year contract offers to stay with the team and why would they want to stay? The team this season is going no where and the prospect of playing for a contending team this season has to be enticing to say the least after the way this season has gone. Now Garth Snow has the task at hand of unloading both players before tomorrow's trade deadline. Why Snow has not traded either player yet is also vexing in that one injury to either player and they walk for nothing in July when free agency begins. Both players should have been dealt when it was apparent that neither was going to sign extensions.
The problem is with trading Vanek and MacDonald is I do not want Snow to come away with trading these two guys and wind up with only draft picks. What good are draft picks to the Islanders? They are already chock full of young prospects waiting for an opportunity to play in the NHL. What good are two or three more draft picks? No. Garth Snow needs players in return for both who are ready to come to the team and challenge for spots next season. If Snow comes away with only draft picks I will view the trades as failures. The Islanders need to start winning. The Islanders need players who can help now. not in three to five years.
I do not know if Snow's job is in danger but it should be. If Garth Snow does not clean house behind the bench this off-season, then he himself also clearly needs to be replaced. Most people think Garth Snow should be fired right now. I do not disagree with this assessment of his job performance. I just do not believe for one second that Charles Wang will fire him and neither does anyone else. Capuano is clearly coaching out the string as he has no contract beyond this season and there is no way he comes back next season. What message does this send to the players? Jack Capuano has made more mistakes this season and simply has no clue what to do when the team has a lead. What more information does Garth Snow need before he cuts the coaching staff loose?
Please comment below and voice your own opinion.