Referendum on Garth Snow and a Flash Back

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/12/2009 10:00:00 PM | |
Deja Vu All Over Again?

A little flash back to Islanders-Sound Tigers and our mailing list archives.

Isles finish 30th losing to Boston the final day of the season with a lottery two days away.

Mike Milbury lost this lottery where he reportedly was all set to take Ilya Kovalchuck and the rest is history.

This summer will be a referendum for General Manger Garth Snow and it a lot of ways his crossroads as general manager.

Thought we would flash back to 4/8/2001 with a few news articles. Isles have more prospects now but had some very good players then also out of the draft.
At Last, It's Over
Loss to Bruins ends last-place Isles' dismal season
by Alan Hahn
Staff Correspondent

BRUINS 4 ISLANDERS 2 Boston-The season last night ended at a
crossroads for two Islanders at opposite ends of their careers.
Veteran defenseman Garry Galley spent most of his time during the pre-
game warmup taking in the atmosphere of what might have been his
final NHL game. Rookie goalie Rick DiPietro spent his time afterward
addressing his immediate future and burning for the chance to prove
that he is indeed ready for the big leagues.

In between, the Islanders closed their terribly disappointing season
with a 4-2 loss to the Bruins before 17,565 fans at the FleetCenter.

When it was over, Galley stayed on the ice and posed for a photo with
his son, Wyatt, who was allowed to stay on the bench for the entire
game to watch his dad.

"Having him here was special for me," said Galley, 37, who has played
17 seasons in the NHL. Galley wouldn't officially say he planned to
retire, but it certainly weighed on his mind. He has a team option
year left on his contract.

Galley said he plans to talk to general manager Mike Milbury about
his future in the next few days.

"We'll see what the future brings," said Galley, who scored his 600th
NHL point with an assist Wednesday against Toronto. "If it's in the
cards for me to continue to move on, and everything plays itself out
right, then it will be great. It'll be a blessing for me. But if it
doesn't, I'll be able to say I finished it the right way." The finish
was spectacular. Galley made two saves-yes, saves-while protecting an
empty net in the game's final seconds. The first stop came against
Joe Thornton, who was going for a hat trick. Galley poked the puck
and blocked the shot on one knee. As the final seconds ticked down,
Galley put his body in front of an attempt by P.J. Axelsson.

"I looked up and he was laughing at me," Galley said of Axelsson, who
took a little off his shot in a show of sportsmanship. "He could have
just teed it up," Galley added. "He didn't and I thank him for that.
I'm sure if this was a regular game, he would have." The game was
hardly regular. The first period was over within 25 minutes real time
and the entire game was completed in two hours and two minutes. Most
of the play stoppages occurred because of goals. Two penalties (one
on each team) were called. Just 26 hits were registered by both teams

The Bruins, who were eliminated from playoff contention Friday night,
took a 3-0 lead in the second period as DiPietro (3-15-1 in 19
appearances this season) was let down by an apathetic defensive

The 19-year-old, who is from nearby Winthrop, Mass., and starred at
Boston University last season, made his hometown debut and had 23
saves. It wasn't one for the scrapbook, but there will be plenty of
time to make up for it.

"Hopefully," he said, "I'll play a lot more games in this building."
It might not come again, however, for another season or two. This
summer the Islanders will need to consider many options to improve
the team, and that might include getting more experience in goal and
allowing DiPietro to develop in the minors. DiPietro, the team's No.
1 overall pick last year, is well aware of his situation.

"This year was a great year for me to come in and get some
experience," he said, "but next year it's going to be all business.
Start with a clean slate and, you know, they're going to be trying to
make the playoffs. So it's going to be tough to get that job. But I'm
going to go into the summer, I'm going to do my best to come into
camp in shape and be mentally and physically ready to go." Notes &
Quotes: Interim coach Lorne Henning finished with a 4-11-2 record
after taking over for the fired Butch Goring March 5. "The guys
worked hard for me," Henning said. "Every day you read about another
coach [candidate] in the paper, so the guys could have basically quit
on me. But they played hard and that's all you can ask." MINUS: The
loss clinched the worst record since the Islanders' inaugural 1972-73
season, when they went 12-60-6. Also, for the first time in team
history, an Islander failed to record a hat trick in a season.

PLUS: Let the Jason Spezza-Ilya Kovalchuk debate begin. The NHL will
do its draft lottery drawing Tuesday. With a last-place overall
finish, the Isles have the best chance (25 percent) to win the first
overall pick. If they don't, they're guaranteed the No. 2 position.
April 8, 2001

Isles Lose to End Season to Forget


Another disappointing Islanders season ended last night, with a 4-2
loss to the Bruins in Boston. Dave Scatchard, the team's feisty
center, said he planned to go home to Alberta and ignore the Stanley
Cup playoffs for the fifth consecutive spring. To watch the games on
television would be torture, he said.

"I know I don't want this to be happening at this time next year," he

Right wing Mark Parrish said, "Hopefully, this year is a one-hit

Parrish has been around for only a year. The Islanders' four Stanley
Cup banners hang in the rafters at the Nassau Coliseum as if they
were won by another franchise.

The Islanders (21-51-7-3) finished with the worst record in the
National Hockey League and missed the playoffs for the seventh
straight year. They finished with 52 points, their lowest total since
1996. They lost 17 games by one goal.

They were shut out 10 times and scored one goal 19 times. Their
record in those 29 games was 0-27-2.

They had a winning record in only one month of the season, October.
The loss last night, in which Joe Thornton scored twice and Byron
Dafoe stopped 29 shots for the Bruins, was the seventh in nine games
for the Islanders.

While General Manager Mike Milbury has refused to comment on any
aspect of his search for a new coach, something happened to the
Islanders in the month since Butch Goring was fired. Although they
won about the same percentage of games, the Islanders played harder
and smarter under Lorne Henning, the interim coach.

"You don't like to lose," Henning said, "but they've been in every
game. They're battling, and they're having some fun."

The Islanders have not necessarily felt as if they were auditioning
for a new coach.

"We don't know who we are auditioning for," Parrish said.

But Milbury's decision to replace Goring gave the Islanders the
feeling they were starting over.

"I think if we would have played with this edge and focus all year,
things would have been a lot different," Scatchard said. "At least
now you can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

The Islanders have a painfully young nucleus, beginning with Rick
DiPietro, their 19-year-old goaltender.

Nine of the 20 players who dressed for Friday's 4-3 loss to Ottawa
were 25 or younger, and three of them — DiPietro, left wing Taylor
Pyatt and center Tim Connolly — are not yet 20. Their biggest need,
as identified by Milbury, is a veteran who can score. He knows it
will not be easy to lure such a player to the Siberia of the N.H.L.

"There's a lot of talent there," said Chris Terreri, the veteran
goaltender who was acquired late in the season from the
Devils. "Maybe they've just got to balance it a little more with
veterans. But they work hard every night, and the attitude's been

Milbury has interviewed at least five coaching candidates — Jim
Schoenfeld, Robbie Ftorek, Bryan Murray, Ted Nolan and Kevin
Constantine. He would like to hire a coach by the June draft, but he
does not want to be held to that, either.

"There's talent there," Milbury said two weeks ago of his
players. "But is there enough character?"

Apparently there is a lot more character than Milbury or anyone else
thought. Henning, an assistant and friend of Goring's, told the team
to play with more passion, and the team responded.

The Islanders were not shut out in Henning's 17-game tenure. In
Friday's loss to Ottawa, the Islanders overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-
1 before losing on a goal in the third period.

Last night, Boston jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second period, but
Roman Hamrlik and Connolly scored for the Islanders to make it 3-2
with 11 minutes 10 seconds remaining.

The Islanders won only one of 45 games in which they trailed after
two periods.

"Maybe we finally realized that we have to work hard every second
we're on the ice," right wing Mariusz Czerkawski said.

Charles Wang, the Islanders' co- owner, has said that Henning, who
has been with the organization for 22 years, will probably be offered
a job in the organization. At least Henning has discovered there is a
pilot light. At least this team feels as if it has a future.

"Hopefully, we can carry it over, that passion," Czerkawski said.
Struck by Lightning

Nov. defeat set stage for Isles' misery

by Alan Hahn
Staff Writer

One mere bounce of the puck is what derailed the Islanders' season
five months ago.
It was Nov. 3 at Tampa Bay and the Islanders were rolling, riding a
six-game unbeaten streak, on the verge of taking over first place in
the Atlantic Division.

Leading Tampa Bay 3-2 with less than a minute to play and the
Lightning net empty, Brad Isbister charged toward a loose puck and
was about to seal the deal before Vincent Lecavalier made a desperate
lunge for Isbister and pulled him down, drawing a holding penalty.

The Islanders were still in business: 33 seconds left, on the power
play and with the faceoff in the offensive zone. Isbister even won
the draw. The game should have been over.


Isbister dropped it to the point, where Kenny Jonsson retreated into
the neutral zone to control the wobbling puck. But it skipped over
his stick and a hustling Mike Johnson rushed at Jonsson and tipped it
away. He blew by a startled Jonsson, broke in alone and beat goalie
John Vanbiesbrouck to tie it at 3 with 25 seconds left.

It shouldn't have been a fatal blow. The Islanders that night and any
night were a better team than Tampa Bay. But the Islanders seemed to
fold, as if doubled over by one misfortune.

In overtime, when they had the chance to get the win they deserved,
further catastrophe awaited. With Tampa Bay rushing up the ice,
former coach Butch Goring inexplicably held back Mariusz Czerkawski
as he was halfway over the boards for a change and tapped Mark
Parrish to take his place. Parrish was too late as Craig Millar
completed the rush by scoring the game-winner with the Islanders
outmanned in their own end.

It was a nightmare that played over and over in the heads of many of
the players for a long time. And it was no coincidence that after
that game, the Islanders lost 48 of 72 games. They went from having
their best October (4-3-2) since 1992-93 to their worst season (21-51-
7-3) since 1972-73.

Here are the main reasons why:

1. Coaching. Mike Milbury made perhaps the biggest blunder of his
tenure as GM by not making a coaching change earlier in the season.
The truth -- Goring's own admission after he was fired that he never
had the team -- came out way too late.

2. Lack of leadership. The team was without a captain after Jonsson
relinquished the "C" in November. The team downplayed it all season,
but there is a reason why this sport designates a captain. It is a
crucial position.

3. Injuries. All but one member (Zdeno Chara) of the revamped defense
was felled for an extended period of time because of an injury. Free-
agent acquisition Kevin Haller missed 62 games. Offensively, Isbister
missed 31 games because of various injuries. All told, the Islanders
recorded 362 man-games lost, which was the fourth-highest total in
the league.

4. Goaltending. Neither veteran Vanbiesbrouck nor rookie Rick
DiPietro could do what the Islanders desperately needed him to do,
and that was steal games. Both also fell well short of what erstwhile
Islander Roberto Luongo would have been, at least for the short term,
had he not been traded last summer.

5. Centers. Without a true No. 1 center, the offense struggled
mightily, especially early in the season. Tim Connolly, 19, and Oleg
Kvasha, 22, both failed to meet unreasonably high expectations.

Milbury stated the obvious last week when he said the team needed a
culture change. The Islanders have been losers for so many years,
there is an expectation and acceptance of mediocrity. Using the
words "building" and "growing" and "developing" when describing a
team generally allows that attitude to linger.

But too many nights this season, the team seemed content with simply
competing in games and almost wanted credit for it. What it failed to
realize was that competing was something that was expected of them.

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