Garth Snow responds to Minnesota

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/21/2007 06:35:00 AM | | | | | | |
Star Tribune:Brian Stensaas reports Garth Snow blames Minnesota coach Don Lucia's coaching which led to Kyle Okposo leaving the university and responded to speculation this was done because of Chris Simon's suspension. Lucia responded to Snow along with Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi who was dumbfounded by the gm's comments.

Asked for specifics, Snow said, "[Okposo] just wasn't getting better -- bottom line. And to me, that's the frustrating part. We entrusted the coach there to turn him into a better hockey player, and it wasn't happening. We feel more comfortable in him developing right under our watch."

"Whether it was Kyle or another player, until things change in that program we'd probably make the same decision. There should be a coach there that looks in the mirror."

"Obviously, it's Kyle's decision whether to stay or leave," Snow said. "But we contacted Kyle and asked how things were going. And that's why we're where we're at."

NYI Fan Central Comments:
A few publications defended Garth Snow who is a product of the college system for his decision here. One pointed to Ted Nolan at Moncton using some US college players but not sure of specifics.

Why Don Lucia could not have shown some class and respected Okposo's decision and wished him luck without assigning blame here is not in the best interest of Okposo moving forward whether he understands this or not. It's not as if the Islanders issued a press release blaming Don Lucia until the coach put this on the team with his NHL rights.

Bottom line Don Lucia can blame the Islanders all he wants but his player decided he has had enough of playing under this coach and his program. Okposo could be right or wrong in the end but it's his decision.

This is a Minnesota paper so of course things are going to be a bit slanted toward the University's side with them getting the final word because when all is said and done they will be covering Don Lucia's team and Joel Maturi's sports programs but Garth Snow had his say and explained why the Islanders did what they did. Islanders have had a lot of high draft picks this did not happen with.

This just puts a big shadow and more pressure on Okposo at the WJC and especially when he returns and has to speak about it or perhaps does come to an agreement with the Islanders. That's why Lucia should have kept quiet if he really had the best long term interest of the player which should always be the priority.

Joel Maturi had no place speculating on a spot for Okposo with the Islanders. Elliot Olshansky has comments from Tim Whitehead, the head coach of Maine which is Garth Snow's alma mater, former Islander assistant Jeff Jackson who is head coach at Notre Dame and Michigan coach, Red Berenson. This was also not Don Lucia's first time having problems with an NHL team he spoke out about. Jack Johnson's situation is also brought up here for discussion as well as the new cba changing the relationship between college and NHL organizations.

One thing that can be said with some certainty is that this is not a problem that is specific to the Islanders. "I happen to know [Islanders general manager] Garth Snow," said Tim Whitehead, head coach at Snow's Alma mater, the University of Maine. "He's a great man. I think this must have been a very unique situation. Garth was fabulous with us last year with [the pursuit of undrafted free agent] Teddy Purcell, so I think this is a very unique case. I think every case is unique, each player's situation."

Updated 9:30am Elliot Olshansky has a full update and response to Snow's comments and the article from the Star Tribune.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Forgetting Don Lucia's comments about Calgary having a similar ring to his Islander comments it's a good discussion on the changes through the cba. The days of teams going European under this cba (at least for the moment with rumblings of changes to this) and keeping a players rights forever have ended so the gm's now look to the college level which can give a gm four full years or more before a club has to sign that prospect.

Of course this is completely contrary to Kyle Okposo's current circumstances.


  1. What did Lucia exactly say about the Islanders that merited cause for Snow's little rant? Well wait, doesn't Lucia have a right to be mad? He lost his team's best player in the middle of the season! I imagine a coach like Mike Krzyzewski or Pete Carroll would be mad if they lost a player to the pros in the middle of the season. The classless Islanders were the ones who started this by signing the guy in the middle of the season. Lucia has every right to be mad (even though he hadn't said anything until Garth's rant, which your site seems to forget)! And as for the coaching at MN, I think I'd take Lucia's credentials, which include two NCAA titles, eight straight NCAA tourney appearances, and countless successful U of M NHlers, over Garth Snow's credentials, which include zero stanley cups, no playoff wins, and a current last place club. Never really cared about the Isles until now, but now I know I can at least feel good knowing the Isles have been one of the most unsuccessful franchises of the past 20 years.

  2. I also find in interesting that Snow blames MN coach Lucia for not developing Okposo. Hmmm, last time I checked, Lucia was not employed by the Islanders. And you know, I've never heard of a college coach in any sport being judged on not developing guys well enough into the pros. I don't believe ANY college coach in ANY college sport has been fired for that. Face it, the classless GM Snow made the Okposo move out of desparation. He's losing a player to a long suspension and his team is in last place. Those are the reasons and you all know it. Do you morons really believe Snow would have signed Okposo in the middle of the season if the Isles were in first place and didn't have a player facing a long suspension? Answer that honestly now with no bias.

  3. I'm sorry but your information here is not correct at all.

    1. My site has only reported the events as printed from the newspapers and website's following this. All of Lucia's and Snow's comments were posted so both sides were represented fairly and equally.

    I also posted the recent article with comments by Okposo with his dissatisfication with how things were going for him this season at school. This is how Okposo felt and that has nothing to do with Snow's record as a gm or the Islanders.

    2. Kyle Okposo is not even signed at this time. He informed Minnesota he was not returning so Lucia gave his comments and out of nowhere blamed the Islanders which promoted Snow's response. Why could he not have wished his player luck and respected his decision instead of turning it into a public controversy?

    3. Snow and his agent Neil Sheehy are reportedly negotiating a contract, he may not even play in the NHL.

    3. Snow made it clear in his comments this had nothing to do with Chris Simon and something being talked about for a while.

    You really think Kyle Okposo knows about Chris Simon or cares about his suspension that he's going to wait to inform his school and coach he was not returning to help offset a Simon suspension announcement.

    4.Why would Snow want this released the same day Simon's suspension was announced?

    5. Why don't we wait to hear what Kyle Okposo has to say about this after the WJC of if the Islanders can even negotiate a contract with him.

    6.As for Don Lucia this is not the first time he ripped an NHL organization. Garth Snow is a person who went through the college program and respected Okposo's decision to return to school.

    Finally if you are not adult enough to make a comment here with calling people morons please do not post. It's uncalled for and disrespectful.

  4. "Kyle Okposo is not even signed at this time. He informed Minnesota he was not returning so Lucia gave his comments and out of nowhere blamed the Islanders which promoted Snow's response."

    What exactly were those comments? Did you make them up? The only thing I saw was that Lucia said "the Islanders put Okposo in a tough situation". Which they did, since they INITIATED the contact, which you seem to forget. Yes Okposo may not care avbout Simon's suspension. But I bet you the Isles do, which is why the desparate GM contacted him. And you still haven't answered if you think the Isles would have signed him if Simon wasn't suspended or if the Isles were in first place. Snow only made his rant because he knew it was a controversial move to sign a kid away in the middle of a season, and he was looking to justify it.

    And come on, you say snow didn't say the Simon suspension had anything to do with the Okposo signing. Can you really say you believe that with a satraight face.

    And lastly, how can you excuse someone for signing a kid in the middle of a college season. How is there ANY excuse for that, good or bad coaching. If the Isles were so unhappy with his development, then they should have signed him in the summer. In fact, Okposo WANTED to sign with the Isles this summer, but they told him to go back to school. Hmmm, that doesn't make a whole lopt of sense. Good luck responding to that last part, because you have no argument there.

  5. Fianlly one last thing. Isn't it the objective of college teams to win? When did 'my development' become the goal rather than being on a good team and trying to win? What other college sport puts a higher priority on developing pros than winning? Can you bloggers here name any? For instance, I'm sure that's what the Michigan football program was looking for when they were looking for a new coach. Screw winning or beating Ohio State, we want a coach who will develop as many pros as possible. I'm sure that's exactly what they were thinking when they hired Rodriguez.

    So then why shouldn't Lucia be angry if a player puts his own development over the team, especially as much as walking out in the middle of the season? This whole montra of putting development over winning is why no one cares about hockey in this country. Not when winning isn't supposed to be a priority at any level below the NHL. Garth Snow only made this mantra that much more reinforced. I hope you all recognize that.

    --Brad M.
    (previous anonymous poster too)

  6. Brad,

    In all my years of being a fan I have never seen the Islanders sign a college player in season, if they had a pattern of doing this you may have a point.

    I posted Garth Snow's comments back on December 2nd about Kyle Okposo, which is contrary to what you are claiming.

    The article even then said the Islanders are in constant contact with Okposo. Snow did not say a word about Minnesota at that time.

    As for Chris Simon, the writer in Bridgeport, the Newsday writer all basically said all signs point to the Islanders working on this before Simon's suspension and it all points to Okposo's article before Simon's actions where even questioned if he should have returned to school.

    There is a very good chance Okposo is not even going to play here this season, but in the AHL.

    Snow made his rant because Lucia called what the Islanders did unfortunate. Again why couldn't Lucia just wish the kid luck instead of hurt him like this if he really was concerned about him?

    Lucia could have called Snow and voiced his displeasure privately.

    Islanders wanted to sign Okposo in the summer and have him play in Canada.

    If the Islanders were consistenly raiding college programs to sign their prospects in season every year I could see your point, but one time with one player seems like sour grapes on your part.

    Especially with a gm who went through the college program who has had no complaints from anyone in the time he has been a gm.

    If Snow does this next year to another player, you got a point but the bottom line here is Okposo made this decision for himself.

    We have to wait for Okposo to speak but instead of making this a positive, Don Lucia put a cloud over this for the kid.

    It may even ruin the WJC for him.

  7. Brad,

    Responding to your final point if Lucia is angry with Okposo it should be kept in house. That's not an Islander issue unless they see it hurting his development which is likely the case him.

    We all know for college programs there is a fine line between winning and developing drafted NHL prospects. Don Lucia has his own pressure to win just like NHL gm's.

    I'll tell you what. Garth Snow makes a habit of doing this to college programs you got a good point, but for this one time occasion he has to be given the benefit of the doubt.

    Happy Holidays.


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