Queen, NY – New York Daily News sportswriter Peter Botte has long been respected by his colleagues because he believes in facts and not writing incendiary columns primarily designed to generate Internet clicks and buzz which is sadly become more common in what passes today for sports journalism.
That is why it caught my attention when he wrote an article last Tuesday that more or less called for the dismissal of New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow as well as harshly criticizing the thin-skinned nature of Islanders communications department.
Garth Snow was a backup goaltender for the Islanders before he was hired by then team owner Charles Wang in 2006 to replace Mike Milbury who had held the post since 1995.
The fact that Milbury lasted eleven years as the Isles GM during which they generally missed the playoffs, and the rare times when they did make it to the NHL postseason, they were bounced after the first round. Milbury’s civil service-like tenure was a testament to the fact that Wang valued his friendship with him more than he cared about his team winning.
The same criticism can be leveled at Snow who has now been at the job as long as Milbury was. Yes, the Islanders finally made it into the second round of the playoffs last spring for the first time in 23 years, but that was only because they were fortunate enough to have played the mediocre Florida Panthers in the first round who themselves hadn’t made it past the first round since 1996.
This year however the Islanders have reverted to losing form as the team consists of superstar center John Tavares and a bunch of nobodies. Tavares has been with the team for eight years but Snow has yet to find another player who can take the pressure off of him.
The Islanders’ futility has understandably led beat reporters to ask head coach Jack Capuano if he was worried about his job security. Capuano took the questions in stride, but according to Peter Botte, the media was berated by the Islanders communications department for raising the issue to him. I can’t say that I was surprised based on my dealings with them.
Most general managers in the various professional sports generally concern themselves strictly with talent acquisition and development. In the National Hockey League however general managers frequently deal with other areas such as media credentialing policies according to an NHL insider who I greatly trust.
A lot of these old school hockey lifers care little about the owner’s revenue streams and ignore the fact that media coverage helps sell tickets and merchandise. They prefer their insular culture. Profits be damned.
New Islanders majority owner, Jon Ledecky, who grew up in Bayside was undoubtedly hoping to hold off making any personnel changes until after this season. He may not have that luxury.
Just to show that I am not trying to pick on the Islanders, their community relations department is stellar. Last Wednesday the team had all of their players visit elementary schools in Suffolk, Nassau, Brooklyn, and they even made a stop in Corona at PS 19. The following day the players skated with visually impaired youngsters at their Eisenhower Park practice facility.