IPB Holiday Mailbag, Pt 1: On Vanek, $20 Million and the Media’s Role

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 Schultz

Right 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 Schultz

If 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 Schultz

Yes, 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 Schultz

The 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 Schultz

The 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 Schultz

I’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.

Kevin Schultz

I’m really glad this question was asked since it’s come to the forefront on Twitter recently and I think it’s a good one to end on for today because this may be a long response, as Christian’s was.

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.




30 comments
chasct
chasct

..how does someone stop being a fan ? I see no other choice...we are in an impossible situation and a cycle that may continue for many more years....its unfair to criticize journalists and bloggers... its unfair to criticize coaches, GM, front office and owner...coach has a good plan..players dont or cant execute...GM and ops are doing their best with limited budgets...the owner is doing his best losing $20M every year. cant criicize, offer up ideas..and the team just cannot win...or compete for a full game...too damn long this has gone on...we saw the light last year and it has been snuffed out again...we have a voice but no ones listening...i am going to start to follow the Panthers...40 years a fan

Chris
Chris


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank: '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."

No, he just grossly over compensates other teams for their assets. Gotten lucky on some waiver pickups, but those eventually rear their ugly heads as they are now (Grabner's sudden hot streak notwithstanding).

He's a horrible GM, don't trust him and don't believe he's ever the smartest guy in the room when it comes to trade negotiations.

doc942
doc942

Newsday says Tavares is hurt and not practicing…. any word on what, how, where, when, how long?

ny711ot
ny711ot

Kevin

Appreciate your candor regarding the balancing act you must maintain to keep your team access.  Like so many institutions today the Islanders are committed to one thing above all;  damage control...To the point where freedoms are compromised.    However, what the Islanders and these other institutions fail to realize is dishonesty breeds contempt.  Information control marginalizes the entity.

So as Wang and Snow continue to wield their iron hand, the organization loses the adoration of their fans.  And worse the stories become inconsequential.

If nothing else Wang and Snow have done one thing most effectively in their tenure....

They have ensured that the Islanders are mostly irrelevant in the scheme of things.

And each day they make it harder for diehards to root for the kids on the ice.

Thomas
Thomas

I have to laugh that the first question is about the most over rated player on this team Josh Barely. If you watch this team on a daily basis you know he clearly is NOT a top line forward and to be honest  is barely a 3rd line forward. Amazing to me that anyone wants him on the first line, personally I think he needs to go, he does nothing, creates nothing, has no shot, makes terrible decisions, never wins a 1 on 1 battle and hasn't scored since baseball season.

godsaveus
godsaveus

I hope garth brings up donavan and sends ness down i like ness he trys hard but he just to small and i thought donavan looked good at times had 5 pts in what 10 games thats almost as many as hammer what u guys think

Dominick J. De Angelis
Dominick J. De Angelis

Why would you keep Nabokov at the trade deadline if the team is out of a playoff spot at that time??? That makes NO sense at all. Nabokov is FINISHED after this season, the Isles WILL NOT BE BRINGING HIM BACK. So pick up the draft pick to package with another player/pick at the Entry draft in June and help the roster. Let Poulin and Nilsson finish the season from there and decide which one will be backing up Hiller OR Miller next season.

thebagman
thebagman

This post raises some issues that exist in broader-scale journalism.  Christian Arnold says that a reporter's job is to "cover the team without bias by reporting the facts."  But in reality, everyone has biases.  Reporters make all sorts of subjective judgments in terms of which facts to include, which to leave out, what order to present them, what sort of questions to ask, and so forth.  I recognize that there is value in trying to be fair, which is a more accurate way to say what Christian is getting at here.  But I think there's less value there than a lot of people in media seem to believe.


As Eric Vogel alludes to in the comments, a lot of journalists fear asking tough questions because they might lose access.  I'm not sure how relevant that is to a team like the Isles, since it's pretty clear that things aren't going right, but it's not so clear what needs to change.  Back when Milbury was in charge, the emperor obviously had no clothes, but the media would still report, "Milbury thinks that trading Roberto Luongo for Oleg Kvasha will make the team better immediately" with a straight face.

Eric Vogel
Eric Vogel

I think part of the problem IS the fact that the reporting/blogging surrounding this team is so compartmentalized.  Yes, Arthur Staple is in charge of interviewing people in the organization and writing his article, but at the same time if he's the only one who has access (such as it is) it becomes all the more frustrating when he doesn't ask the questions that we want answers to.  You think I want to hear Jack Capuano spout another line about battle level?  I've heard that quote before in response to the same hackneyed questions for longer than I'd like to admit and its getting embarassing.  We want actual answers to actual questions and the only person with any kind of access throws nothing but softballs.  When was the last time we got a direct quote from Wang or Snow?  I honestly can't remember and if Capuano is just playing the role of Junior Soprano in Season 1, aka the lightning rod, then I don't care about him at all.  So tell me, between the bloggers and our one beat reporter who the hell is supposed to be getting answers to the questions we want asked from the people who have the real answers?

Mike Scalice
Mike Scalice

Get Q AND A MAYBE NEXT TIME YOU GUYS COULD PICK HARDER QUESTION. AND NOT TAKE THE EASY ROAD JUST SAYING.

Jason Zimmermann
Jason Zimmermann

@Thomas Bailey may very well be the worst player I've ever seen in an Islander uniform. I'm not even exaggerating.


red2
red2

@rmreturns 

Of all the words posted above, you chose to focus on what might be the most relevant in that entire article.  Kudos for that.  Journalists are professionals dedicated to reporting the news.  That's their job, and I have been there.  Opinions are something all journalists have but, there is little or no space for that in their reporting.  Opinions are for editorialists and there is limited space provided  in daily print media that allows for that.  Arthur Staple reports the news, and the bloggers that mediate this site do the same.  The people that post here are the antithesis, they are the ones with opinions.  Accepting that there is a difference between a news article and an editorial is tantamount to understanding the real difference between those who run this site and those who post here.  The first gives us the news, we respond with our opinion...  

red2
red2

@godsaveus 

I think Ness at -12 in 19 games with 3 points as opposed to Donovan with 5 points in 22 games at -5 is enough to prove your point.  Unfortunately, your point like mine is an opinion and it's Capuano and Snow's decision that counts...

Andy Graziano
Andy Graziano

@Eric Vogel Arthur is not the only one with that level of access. What questions would you like answered? Snow is not hanging around the dressing room post-game, that I can tell you. And Wang is hardly ever in the building period during practices/games.

dkdk
dkdk

The guy barely looks like he is trying which is the most frustrating point for me.

Vicp73
Vicp73

@rmreturns Ok sir good points, but why is it that players and GM's on every other team are required to speak to the media? Players in hockey markets like Toronto and Montreal are told by management they have to be made available to the media. The media has total access to the dressing rooms usually 20 minutes to 30 after each game. Why is different in Long Island??

MysteryMachine
MysteryMachine

@Andy Graziano @Eric Vogel There are tons of point blank questions that should be asked to Snow and Wang - every fan has dozens they want answered.  If Snow is not hanging around to answer questions and Wang is absentee, then that is the story. There's nothing wrong with writing that neither of them were available for comment and that it appears they are dodging the fans and press by not speaking throughout this disaster of a season.  It's a way of calling them out while being factually correct.  That's the fine line here ... no one is willing to write it.  More importantly, why is there only one beat reporter writing about this team?  Is it because the Islanders do not allow more than one or because there is no interest in this team due to the lack of relevancy of the team?  Botta did the right thing a couple of years back and the result speaks for itself.  I miss his writing as much as everyone else but we're also lucky to still have this site at all.

jepliberty
jepliberty

@Chris R@orange2327

Didn't get a new coach for Christmas I see. Did you ask Santa for one?  If not, then perhaps it's YOUR fault. lol

dkdk
dkdk

Thomas .... What kills me is look at our own roster, we let PA walk and gave just about the same money to Bailey. It is mind boggling.

Thomas
Thomas

@dkdk @Jason Zimmerman I wouldn't call him the worst player ever, but he may well be the most over rated player I have ever seen. I can't tell you how many arguments I have over this guy. Why they gave this guy 5 yrs 16.5m is beyond me, especially when we could have had Grabovski who is more productive for the same money and less years. 2 of my favorite stats on Bailey: 1)PMB who we waived has 5 better seasons than Bailey's best season. 2) Grabner could go the next 112 games without a goal and STILL have 18 more goals than Bailey in the same amount of career games. Blake Comeau who we wavied has more career goals and similar stats. It really is mind boggling how many people agree with Frank who thinks he should be on the 1st line and has talent. He's been given more opportunity than any player I can ever remember and he simply does not produce. Why does he see the ice on the power play, ever? It's amazing to me

red2
red2

@mitchfritz @rmreturns 

Based on those career statistics it's safe to state that Bailey is not quite a half a point a game type forward.  He is overall a -24 in four full and two half seasons, all the while playing for a team with a huge discrepancy in wins and losses.  He would appear best suited to a third line checking type role and, with Grabner and Nielsen as line mates, fits that role.  Unfortunately, this team is using that line as a #2 line, necessitating more scoring.  Once again, we are being asked for patience until Strome, Nelson and Lee fill that role...

dkdk
dkdk

That sums it up nicely red. For the first time in my 40 year of fandom with this team I feel completely irrelevant. We are never spoken too, ever. And to make matters worse I truly feel that they care more about people in Bklyn that don't know a Zamboni from a puck than those of us that have followed the team for decades and spent tens of thousands of dollars on the team.

red2
red2

@dkdk 

I understand your pain,,, we all do,,, those that post here.  That's the bottom line on being a fan of this team, the inglorious futility of failure and the inability to hold those responsible accountable.   

dkdk
dkdk

I'll buy that red, but to me is still comes down to if no one speaks it doesn't matter how many people cover them. It is pure lunacy that the team has spiraled the way it has and neither clown has addressed it. Especially when that spiral started with a trade that "was needed to shake things up".

red2
red2

@dkdk 

I think circulation numbers dictate that answer.  Newsday still controls Long Island.  The News, Post and Times are here but have a far less subscribers.  I would think that the case of the Nets is precedent enough to see what will happen once the move is made to Brooklyn.  Newsday used wire services to report on Nets games until this year and the move to Brooklyn into an area covered by Newsday subscriptions.  They now have a reporter covering the team.  When the Isles move to Barclay's I would think that all three New York dailies would follow suit and send a reporter to cover the team... 

dkdk
dkdk

@red .... This may be a bit of chicken and egg here. Do they not cover them because they are in Nassau or do they not cover them because there is nothing to cover? If they are consistently losing to the point where just about every team would clean house and this one does nothing .... And nothing includes the GM and owner staying COMPLETELY SILENT, why send reporters down? It is widely known that wang and snow don't speak, and the lack of fannies in the seats show there is an apathetic fanbase so why should the other dailies send writers out?

I think of this is a disease and symptom situation. Lack of coverage and criticism are the symptoms but the disease is that snow and wang refuse to speak to the media and fans. Actually they are the disease of this organization period. I really did not need to finish that sentence.

red2
red2

@MysteryMachine @Andy Graziano @Eric Vogel 

There is only one beat writer reporting on this team because there is only one newspaper actually covering the team on a regular basis.  The News, the Post and the Times are absent.  Perhaps they will make an appearance once the team relocates to Brooklyn...

dkdk
dkdk

Well if we learned anything is that it isn't wang or snows fault ... Lol