Last week prior to the Islanders 5-3 over the Rangers at the Garden, we asked for your questions about the team. We got over 100 passionate and frustrated responses and will answer as many as we can over the next two days. In no particular order, here we go…
Frank: Why doesn’t Capuano try to jump start Josh Bailey by putting on the top line with JT ( drop Vanek to the second line to even out the lines better). Also Bailey was playing his best when he was killing penalties last year, he’s not utilized enough with the skills that he has.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:Bailey on the first line would be an interesting idea, though I don’t know how much I like the idea of Vanek on the second line with Grabs and Nielsen. Think he’s fitting well on that first line with JT and Okposo.
Kevin SchultzRight now, I wouldn’t want to mess with the chemistry Okposo and Tavares have, so I’d like to leave them together. Dropping Vanek down to the second could be a good way to create secondary scoring, and I like it, I just don’t see them doing it. I believe Snow traded for him to pair him with Tavares, so that’s why he’ll stay on the top line.
Dallas: Do you think they trade VANEK if they are out of it at trade deadline and what would they get for him? Also do they ship Amac too? And where does Nabokov fit at the deadline?
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:If the Isles are out of it, I think Vanek would be traded at the deadline for the right price. My gut tells me Snow would obviously like to still try to re-sign him, but if he gets a good offer at the deadline – something with substance – then he’d be open to moving him. I think the same would go for Nabokov. A-Mac I’m not 100% sure that they’d be as willing to move him.
Kevin SchultzIf they’re out of it at the deadline, they have to move Vanek. You can’t risk losing Moulson and two early round picks for nothing. Of course, it goes without saying that they should also offer Vanek a contract of some kind. It seems pretty clear that the decision was made to either spend money on Moulson or Vanek, not both.
Yes, send AMac packing as well. Any contender close to the cap can add his minuscule cap hit easily and I think he is overvalued around the league. I’m an advanced stats person when it come to judging defense and the stats — along with a lot of people’s observations — have not been good for him this year. All that said, young kids will need to step up to fill the hole next year (Reinhart) and a top-four defender is still on the free agent need list.
Nabokov shouldn’t been moved. If they’re out of it, give Poulin more starts, certainly. But I don’t know that there’s enough value there to justify selling out the Isles weakest position.
Mitch: Coming off our first playoff series in years, do you think Garth Snow misjudged this team and figured bring virtually the same team back with another year together we would take the next step when it was obvious we needed a goalie, 1 D-men and a scorer, your thoughts
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:I think Snow and a lot of other people misjudged this team after the run they had. I think that has become pretty evident since the start of the season. The Isles had nice run late in the season and put up a hell of a fight in the playoff, but you’re right goaltending and defense were positions that needed upgrades. Snow stood pat and it hurt the team. Not for nothing too, I think Snow still doesn’t completely have the budget to spend what he needs to spend to help the team.
Kevin SchultzYes, a lot of people inside and outside of the team misjudged what happened last year. That includes myself, who picked the Islanders to finish third or fourth in the division this year (still time, obviously).
The defense has not been as good as last year, partially due to injuries. The Visnovsky injury has been devastating. They could have gotten away without Streit but not both.
The lack of an upgrade at goaltender is inexcusable, in my opinion. Nabokov was bad for long stretches last year (also, good for stretches). They clearly didn’t believe in Poulin, not taking the reigns off him until Nabokov got hurt. Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin, Jon Bernier, there were options out there. Given that the Sabres are retaining salary in the Vanek trade I think there’s a budget issue here. With Hiller and Miller set to hit the market as well as Scrivens the Islanders need to spend money on a goalie next summer. Hopefully the budget allows it…
Matt: What is garth snow doing about the defense of this team is so horrible?
Any news about any rumors of wang giving getting the team new ownership?
Also is the team going get a new coach and a new GM?
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:We’ve seen reports that Snow is trying to make some sort of deal to help his team, but he has had no takers. Not much you can do if you can’t get the right deal done and, as we’ve seen in the past, Snow doesn’t just take any deal.
As for ownership rumors, I haven’t heard any nor do I think any are true. Those are usually good for a laugh, but I don’t think Wang is selling the team at the present moment. And no I don’t think there will be changes at the coaching and GM positions right now. Capuano may be the likeliest to be let go, but Snow’s job is pretty secure.
Kevin SchultzThe Islanders have made their bed on defense and it is hard to trade for a top-four defender during the year. Plus, the Islanders aren’t the only team that would like a defender. Trading for one is easier said than done. They traded for Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Vanek. So here we are.
Everything I’ve ever been told from those inside and around the organization (and this goes back a number of years, too) is that Charles Wang enjoys owning the Islanders. And remember, when digesting new rumors, always check the source. How many times was Patty L supposed to buy the team?
It’s amazing, to me anyway, that the coach survived the 10-game losing streak. As far as the GM, I have to default to the guy who would know this sort of thing.
Mike B: Is there anyway the Isles can have the first round pick protected if they do terrible (ie. MLB protecting first pick of 10 worst teams) and wind up in the bottom 5 of the league?
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:The Islanders can defer sending their first round pick to Buffalo until 2015 if it’s a top 10 pick.
Chris T: Its been reported that Charles Wang was losing about 20 million per year on the team before Tom Suozzi amended the lease for the coliseum, where does Wang stand now with his loses?
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:No idea if he is still losing as much as he was then, but I doubt the Tom Suozzi deal helped that much. It is still not even close to the sweet heart deals the Rangers or Knicks or Mets or Yankees have with NYC.
Kevin SchultzThe Islanders certainly don’t get the tax break that Madison Square Garden does (never forget!) but this is a pretty interesting question and one that is worth revisiting. That $20 million figure that is the only figure anyone really knows about team finances and it comes from a 2009 Newsday article where Wang expressed his frustrations with not being able to get the Lighthouse Project or other arena deal passed.
The Islanders now run full operations of the building and other events. They get better cuts of revenue streams than prior to Suzzoi’s “sweet heart” deal. No one really knows how much better or if that means a profit or loss, but again, it’s certainly no MSG deal.
What we do know is that things should be better in Brooklyn where the Islanders will receive a set payment from Barclays Center. In return, BC receives the vast majority of the team’s revenue streams.
Joe A: Is it safe to assume that they aren’t making a coaching change until they move to Brooklyn? How can they allow this team to make the same mistakes year after year, game after game without any consequences???
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:I don’t think it will take that long. If the Isles feel a coaching change needs to be made it will likely come during the offseason. I don’t think they’d wait another two seasons to make a coaching change.
Kevin SchultzI’m honestly not sure anymore. Capuano made it through the last rough patch and the media was told repeatedly that Snow had confidence in him and wanted to make a trade to help the situation. I guess that’s what the status is until further notice. The Islanders play 16 games in 31 days in January, so it would be tough to implement a new coach and/or system then. I imagine Capuano at least finishes the season. If anything, February Olympic Break is a good time to make a change.
Ronnie: There seems to be a major disconnect between those who cover the team (bloggers, journalists, etc.) and the fans that they should be catering to. Can you please address it? Based on comments on this site, the team’s social media accounts, and replies to journalists on Twitter, there is a significant amount of anger that has been built up amongst Isles fans. There seems to be more focus from these angry fans about why those who cover the team aren’t doing more to criticize those in charge of running/owning the team more so than anger with those people actually in charge. It’s almost as if Isles fans feel voiceless and are looking for a way to breakthrough.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:This is a very interesting question because, like you, I see the anger that the fans have been directing at the people who cover this team too. I think the disconnect stems from the fact that the fans want to fire and brimstone. And columns filled with why Wang is horrible, why this team stinks, why Snow is the worst GM and why Capuano is a terrible coach. But that isn’t how journalism works or what a reporters job is. It is their job is to cover the team without bias by reporting the facts.
I think the fans expect the people who cover this team to be fans first and just go off on the team, but that’s not how it’s done. This isn’t an Islander only thing either. Dan Shaughnessy wrote an interesting column about this subject for the Boston Globe. It just seems to be more intense here since the team has been struggling and they haven’t seen much success in quite a while.
Bloggers obviously have a bit of a different role depending on whom they write for, but again having so much passion about a team can cloud your ability to see things clearly. It’s the job of the people who cover the team to be able to do that.
That’s where I think the disconnect may come in.
I’m going to divide my response into a few sections, because it’s actually a pretty nuanced subject. It’s not as simple as anyone (media, bloggers, twitterers, fans) just typing “EFF YOU” and voicing frustration every time the team loses. Depending on your particular spot in the parenthesis above, you will handle things differently.
Media: So, I know a lot of people got on Arthur Staple for not criticizing the team on Twitter the other night. But if you remember, Arthur wasn’t hopping all aboard the Islanders Express last season when the team was playing well, either. His job is to ask questions to players and coaches, report those answers and report observations of the games and practices. This tweet explains it, basically:
Folks like James Mirtle, Chris Botta and Larry Brooks, who are all more critical of the team, are on the columnist/analyst side of things. They get paid to write their opinions and don’t ask questions at practices or tweet game observations (Mirtle does for the Leafs, I believe, but the others do not). They get paid to answer questions like ‘why is this happening’, ‘what can be done to fix it’ and ‘who is to blame?’
So when directing ire at a particular person in the mainstream media (mainstream meaning more or less “person who covers hockey/sports on a full-time basis”) you have to remember whose editor is asking for columns and #HOTTAKES and whose editor is asking for news articles.
It’s funny too, because Mirtle has been hard on the Isles many times and then he gets venom on Twitter for being critical. Go figure.
Bloggers: Bloggers are in a bit different category. We’re all fans at the end of the day although we all portray ourselves as such to very different degrees. So to say that we all have orange and blue glasses on is probably 100% accurate. We all also have day jobs or school or in some cases (mine) both. So the amount that each individual can write is limited and we have to pick and choose between stories. But anyway… These are my thoughts, so they’re not gospel but it’s what I’ve gathered from blogging for the last 7+ years.
Bloggers, if they do it respectfully, are certainly able to criticize the team. Bloggers are usually more columnists, from the example above. We are usually not at practice, usually not at the games, usually expressing opinions. BUT! The Islanders are a progressive organization and allow us to go to practices and go to games and bring you quotes and stories that we otherwise could not. So we’re also reporters, like Staple, but on a much smaller scale. So there’s a bit of a line to walk since we can wear both hats.
We try to have it both ways; have our cake and eat it, too. And there’s certainly demand for that. I mean, the second this blog stopped reporting from practice every day a couple years ago due to, uh, circumstances people knocked us for not getting the same interesting stories from the Coliseum and locker room. So, we know there’s a desire for that. We also know there’s a desire for opinions both good and bad. I think we certainly share those. It’s a balancing act. The day we write “Charles Wang is a [pick an expletive to put here]” in a headline will be the last day we are able to have it both ways. That said, we are still able to debate the merits of coaches, players, trades and more. We’re able to say the coach or GM is doing a bad job. I think a lot of times people expect us to go nuclear and expecting us to go nuclear is unfair.
BUT! All of that said, I do understand that people want to see to some extent a reflection of the frustration and anger that they are experiencing. AND! I do think that Islanders bloggers have been overly positive and overly non-critical. Recently. In general.
I’m on Twitter a lot reading everything. I’m on Twitter too much, honestly. But I think for the last two months, or however long that stretch without a regulation win lasted, there were a lot of nights on Twitter where the Isles were down 3-0 or blew a third period lead and the reaction from bloggers was “it’s a long season!” ” well they played really hard, you guys!” “it’s not [player/coach/GM's] fault!” when, in all reality, the team was in the middle of a bad losing streak and there’s really no way to sugar coat that the team has lost five in a row and just got blasted 5-0 at home by Detroit.
The internet has also created this weird YOU vs. ME and BLACK vs. WHITE dynamic with everything it touches. Excuse me as this discussion gets a little more conceptual and bigger picture.
You’re either DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN, says the internet. You either LOVE or HATE Fox News, the internet tells you. You either LOVE advanced stats and think they are gospel or you HATE advanced stats because you see and judge with your eyes, they say on the internet. You are either drinking Islanders KOOL AID or you’re a REAL FAN who lets the hate flow, they say on Islanders discussion boards and comment sections. “What does the Fox say?” is either the BEST SONG EVER OH MY GAWD or it’s the STUPIDEST CRAP EVER, the internet says.
Life, and the internet, should not be so black and white. Life and the internet are in fact not black and white! There are good things, bad things and things in between. The internet is the place where sarcasm and hyberbole are king and compromise is non-existent. We watch the “best video ever” and share pictures of the “cutest cat in history.” Who has ever won a twitter debate or argument? Literally no one. People are wrong, people are right and there are people who were a little bit of both.
A lot of days, I think the black and white butt heads and cause a rift and I think it’s done that in Islanders Country. There’s a “nuke the whole place” tribe and for lack of a better description, I guess, a Kool Aid tribe. It’s divisive and serves little purpose except to further arguments and find the NEXT THING to get upset about. But in the end we’re all really interested in the same scenario playing out, I think.
Whew. Sorry if that got too long and ranty.
So in short; pick your media targets of hate appropriately, bloggers have a tough rope to walk but, I agree, have been too positive this season, and the internet creates a weird good or bad and no in-between dynamic that kinda sucks.