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.