Islanders Point Blank on Twitter
Entertainment Weekly does it for Hollywood, so it’s time we looked at the most powerful people on Wang Island. Use the Comments section to share your personal write-in candidates or start arguments. It’s not a perfect list. I’m sure I left worthy people out. I approached it like the Hall of Fame: if I had to think about it long, you didn’t make it. No offense intended. Let’s begin.
25. Billy Jaffe, MSG Plus color commentator: Emerging as one of the best analysts in the league, Jaffe gets his points across and they often foreshadow team decisions.
24. Eric Cairns & Sudarshan Maharaj, Development Assistant and goaltending consultant: By the across-the-board raves from the many prospects that improved over the last year, it’s clear Cairns’ impact has been felt. Maharaj was sent to Finland to scout Mikko Koskinen and rubber-stamped his drafting. Now he’s responsible for the goalie’s Islanders career.
23. Michael Bair, President of MSG Media: Runs the division with the people who run the Islanders’ telecasts, decide what they will look like and determine which channel they will be on.
22. Ken Morrow, Director of Pro Scouting: With free agency starting at 26, the dynasty defenseman has a more important role than ever. His team needs another Mark Streit-calibre recommendation next summer.
21. Rick DiPietro, goaltender: His influence on management is mythical and his potential for impact is not what it was, at least for now. Nevertheless, when you are a U.S. Olympian, All-Star and No. 1 goaltender with a few years left on a long-term deal, your attempted comeback is noteworthy.
20. NYI Fans and Bloggers on the Internet, true Orange-and-Blue: You better believe it, folks. Between Islandermania, Islanders Country, HF boards, the comments section on Newsday.com, the Blog Box, Puck Daddy, SB Nation, this thing and (just about) everywhere else on Al Gore’s Internets, never, ever underestimate your voice. Even when they pretend not to, the Islanders are reading and listening.
19. Kyle Okposo, top prospect: His complete development is vital to the Islanders’ rebuild.
18. Islanders Alumni, Long Island heroes: When men like Bob Nystrom and Clark Gillies have something to say, you listen. They earned this respect not just with Cup rings, but with their genuine interest in the health of the franchise more than two decades after they last wore the uniform.
17. Bryan Trottier & Mike Bossy, legends-in-residence: Trottier is in player development while Bossy develops corporate relationships for the franchise. These are usually the kind of jobs where Hall of Famers mail it in, kiss babies and collect a paycheck on their names. Not these two.
16. Hank Winnicki, Newsday sports editor: Being top dog in Sports at Long Island’s newspaper means Winnicki gets the ultimate call on how much coverage the Islanders get in the print edition and on the web. He also decides the back cover, who writes when and how much. Now more than ever – with the Islanders still a one-paper beat in the Tavares era – this makes Winnicki a very powerful person.
15. Jack Capuano, Bridgeport head coach: When you are in a youth movement, the head coach of your American Hockey League affiliate is almost as important as the NHL guy. Capuano is responsible this season for Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figren, Trevor Smith, Mark Katic, Justin DiBenedetto and Mikko Koskinen, among many others.
14. Doug Weight, mentor and power play point: Had breakfast with Tavares and just happened to run into Matt Duchene on the golf course. If management thinks enough of Weight to set that up, he’s obviously more than just a 38-year old center entering his second year with the team.
13. Howard Saffan, Sound Tigers President: Besides running the AHL franchise, Saffan is also responsible for the renaissance of Islanders Iceworks. Word has it he has spent a lot of time in the Islanders’ sales office this summer.
12. Mark Streit, defenseman: The man who should be the next captain.
11. Kate Murray, Town of Hempstead Supervisor: Strictly a coincidence, but Murray started acting more like a true community leader when her candidate for this November’s election was announced. (Funny thing: we haven’t heard from Kristen McElroy since). Murray is the gatekeeper to the Lighthouse’s plan for mega-development in Hempstead. She’s powerful, all right. Tell her what you think on August 4.
10. Islanders Sponsors and Season Subscribers, stakeholders: If you are financially and emotionally committed for 41 games of Long Island’s only major professional sports franchise, the Islanders will always be interested in what you have to say. This is power you should not take lightly.
9. Ryan Jankowski, Assistant GM/Director of Amateur Scouting: When it comes to the draft, it is all on Jankowski. His work can be judged in a few years on Bailey, de Haan, Ness, Trivino, Hamonic, Petrov, Ullstrom, Martin, Katic, Donovan, Poulin, DiBenedetto, Cizikas and taking two goalies last month.
8. Chris Dey, President: Building a fan base while the team is in a rebuild and the fate of the franchise is up in the air is quite a challenge. Not sure what anyone could have done last season with a team out of it before Christmas. This year should determine whether Dey’s innovative Islanders Business Club moves the mountain of tapping essential corporate support for the franchise.
7. Scott Gordon, head coach: Time will tell if Gordon is the table-setter, like Glen Hanlon was in Washington, or if he has the ability to see the rebuild from beginning to end. Talented, diligent, creative, smart, stubborn.
6. Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner: An easy target at times, but in the final analysis he’s done his part to keep the team where it is. After the arena stuff gets sorted out, owes the Islanders one last thing: participation in an outdoor game.
5. Scott Rechler, Lighthouse co-developer: His name is not in the Islanders’ directory (for now), but as Charles Wang’s partner on the Lighthouse Project, Rechler has a huge chunk of the franchise’s future in his hands.
4. Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Executive: The Lighthouse Project – or as Suozzi insisted I call it years ago, the “Coliseum Project” – is almost as much his as Wang’s and Rechler’s. It’s on The Suozz to see it through.
3. John Tavares, No. 1 pick: No pressure, kid.
2. Garth Snow, General Manager: As much as this year is about the Lighthouse, ultimately Snow must build a contending hockey team. He has the complete support of ownership, so he’s getting plenty of time to get it done.
1. Charles Wang, owner: The Man. Whether or not you agree with my contention that the team wouldn’t be here any more without him, there’s no question that everything about the Islanders starts at the top.