Monday, September 27, 2010

Garth Snow vs. Bloggers, Chapter 3

Scott Gordon Year 3
This will be Scott Gordon’s third year as head coach of the NY Islanders. It is also the final year of his contract. There was much optimism heading into this season, but it didn’t take long it to disappear.

A healthy Rick DiPietro, an improved defense corps and a little grit were sure to help Scott Gordon improve the team’s ranking in the standings yet again. When the Blog Boxers sat down with the Isles GM, I asked him what Scott would have to do in order to obtain -- job security. Knowing that the Islanders do not discuss contract specifics, I knew the question itself would be met with raised eyebrows. It was.

“I can tell you from my own perspective, our team did make an 18 point increase in the standings last year with a much younger group. We expect to make the playoffs. Scott and I have a great relationship. I would never talk about anything in regards to what you’re alluding to. We all want to make the playoffs and be in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup. Everyone has different situations whether it’s a player in the last year of his contract, if it’s a player with a five year contract. It doesn’t matter. We all need to win today.” That was actually three sentences more than I thought I would get out of our GM on the subject.

Winning. That was the thinking two months ago, two weeks ago and two days ago. It was also the same thinking during the press conference when Nino Niederreiter was signed to his entry level contract.

Garth Snow said it to the media -- again. “Obviously the goal is to make the playoffs and compete for a Stanley Cup. Nothing short of that is acceptable.” However, the key word here is “compete.”

Charles Wang agreed. “We have high expectations for the team. We’re getting closer and closer to what we believe is a real competitive team and a fun team to watch. And obviously, we want to win.” Competitive and entertaining.

While there was no big splash in the off season in free-agent acquisitions, there were some comfortable changes made. “We’re in a position where we’ve upgraded our defense in talent level and leadership. The depth is there. At forward another year of maturity and they’ll be ready to take that next step. We’re excited about the group that we have.” Garth Snow is pleased with his defense corps he has assembled with Mark Streit leading the way.

Streit is so important to this team, he was a focal point of the press conference. Scott Gordon admitted that Streit had to play almost 30 minutes a game out of necessity last season. But, he indicated he was a more comfortable heading into this season. “The signings that he (Garth Snow) made are huge.” There was finally dept at the position.

The Islanders took a skilled player that was being used as a forward in Montreal and transformed his career as a defenseman for the New York Islanders. A top four defenseman at that.

But everything changed on Saturday when Streit left the ice with a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum and rotator cuff. Even when Scott Gordon didn’t know the full prognosis, he told the press immediately after the game, “Any team that loses one of their top four defensemen has a hole in their line-up.” Streit is leaving not just a hole, but a crater.

And while Gordon told reporters “The challenge with starting a new year is to have everyone on the same page.” Gordon will be facing a raft of new challenges including figuring out exactly WHO will be trying to get on that same page.

Scott Gordon’s job just got a lot tougher while Charles Wang’s vision of a competitive team just became a little blurrier. Additionally, losing Kyle Okposo for any extended amount of time would just be another blow to what should have been an exceptionally exciting and entertaining season.

Scott Gordon truly has his work cut out for himself. I hope he is up to the challenge.

No comments: