The New York Islanders dropped their fifth straight contest on Friday night, as the once hopeful team drifts further and further out of the picture in the competitive Eastern Conference. After starting the season on an offensive and overall successful tear, the team has only managed to win five of their last 18 games.
The issues surrounding the Islanders were once easy to point out, but now it has turned into a full-on disaster. It has shifted from the goaltending and the defense to the entire team being absent for extended periods of time. The injuries to Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan do not help their cause, but the recent collapse has still been irrefutably and absolutely unacceptable.
The contract situation of John Tavares looms in the distance as well. The star, 27-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and quite frankly, the Islanders have not done much to convince him to re-sign with the team.
Garth Snow has made some decent moves in his day, such as acquiring Mat Barzal and Nick Leddy for peanuts, as well getting Jordan Eberle in exchange for only Ryan Strome. However, no real progress has been made since he took over as general manager in 2006. The team has only made the playoffs four times and has gotten one series win. It’s simply not enough.
For a man that has given 110% to the franchise, John Tavares has gotten little to nothing in return. The 2017-2018 season so far epitomizes it, as he, along with help from Josh Bailey and Nick Leddy, has been dragging the team to a decent record. But, as has been seen, the team as clear holes that have not been addressed and it does not appear as though they will be addressed anytime soon.
Given the twelve years Garth Snow has been in office, what should make Tavares believe that these next eight years (if he were to choose to sign for that long) would be any different? Tavares cannot hold up a team of largely mediocre players forever, and he deserves the chance to play for the Stanley Cup. He deserves to be put at his highest capacity with a capable supporting cast around him. Players such as Alan Quine, Brock Nelson, Dennis Seidenberg, and Shane Prince do not fit that mold.
This year with John Tavares, Mat Barzal, and Nick Leddy at a combined $12 million on the cap is an outright wasted opportunity. The patience with the group they have should be running dry. Enough is enough.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the damage is likely already done. Firing Garth Snow and bringing in a new face midsession or after the season is not going to convince John Tavares to stay. The past years of failure has already done the situation in.
The best Snow and the Islanders organization can hope for is that John Tavares finds it within his heart to swallow some of his winning attitude and come back to the organization for one year, five years, eight years, or however long it may be. There is no saying what it will take to convince him to do so, but the team better hope and pray it happens.
If not, after the All Star Game break, it will be time to put out a flier and see what teams might be interested in acquiring Tavares as a rental piece. It is absurd that it has come to that, but in the end, it is what it is.
Losing John Tavares due to ineptitude would be the beginning of the end for not only Garth Snow, but for the New York Islanders contending future as a whole. There is no immediately bouncing back from a loss of that magnitude.
The future arena is locked. Now it is up to the team to find a way to prove to John Tavares that they will be Stanley Cup contenders in the near future, and currently that does not look too likely.
It is poised to be a bumpy road to the finish in Brooklyn. Hang on tight, hockey fans.