Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo famously asked this question of Mike Milbury in 2003, and now it is appropriate to ask of Garth Snow:
How is he still the GM?
Snow, of course, would never have the guts to participate in a live broadcast interview without a guarantee of cushy questioning. While the bubble around him may delude the arrogant Snow into thinking he's Teflon -- hello, Newsday, anyone home? -- the reality is that everyone else knows he has been out of solutions and excuses for years.
On the 265th day since John Tavares could first commit to the Islanders for another eight seasons, the club has been unable to convince its franchise player to stay. All signs point to Tavares participating in the "listening period" in late June and becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Don't blame the player. Tavares and the franchise have been let down by Snow, whose team has lost 12 of its last 14 games and will fail to meet even the low bar of merely qualifying for the playoffs for the eighth time in 12 seasons.
You would think that by now Islanders ownership could put down whatever flavor of Kool-Aid Snow has been serving them and come to their senses long enough to understand what everybody else knows: If Tavares eventually decides to stay with the Islanders at some point between today and the Fourth of July -- and he still could -- it will have nothing to do with Snow. Tavares will get massive contract offers from anywhere from 5-10 teams. If he sticks with the Islanders, it will be because of his love of living here, loyalty to the franchise and a desire for more cracks at a mission unaccomplished.
And with that, as ludicrous as the notion was that Snow must be retained for the Islanders to have a sense of normalcy -- another classic behind-the-scenes Snow job -- there is no reason for owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin not to take immediate action.
After a disastrous run that began in 2006, Garth Snow should be relieved of his duties as Islanders president and general manager.
Not for another day should Snow be permitted to infect this franchise with his vacant leadership, poor decision-making and worse excuse-making. This franchise needs to begin the process of airing out the stench created by Snow's decade-plus of mismanagement and cover-your-ass culture.
So too, must come the end of the insecure Snow insulating himself by hiring buddies in key hockey positions. Thanks to Snow, the Islanders - and yes, this is saying a lot - have become as big a farce as they ever have been in this quarter-century of a "30 for 30" mixtape.
There's no reason to recount the ways Snow has shown since 2006 to be one of the most ineffective general managers in NHL history. After all, even as you relentlessly try to con people into thinking you're the smartest person in the room, you are what your record says you are. And the 12-season record is an embarrassment.
Snow should be fired immediately out of fear of what he'll do out of desperation to cover his own butt once again. Snow is the master of very little, but he excels at the misdirection play.
After the Islanders turned the page on Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen surprised them by deciding it was time for a change of scenery, the general manager was obsessed about taking the pressure off himself. Snow needed to present a shiny new object to hold off the calls for his job for another year. The result? A seven-year, $38.5 million contract for Andrew Ladd.
That was the biggest example of Snow at his frantic worst, but then there are the "Hey, aren't I smart"? moves out of the Snow playbook. The proud but banged-up Johnny Boychuk, 34 next season, has four seasons left on a seven-year contract at a cap hit of $6 million per. There was the five-year, $3.5 million-a-year deal for Cal Clutterbuck that takes the fourth-line forward to his 35th birthday. There's the odd penchant for long-term commitments to depth defensemen.
And remember when Snow, who had plenty of excuses but no solutions to fix his broken team for months leading up to this season's trade deadline, announced Josh Bailey's new contract and Snow's hallelujah chorus sang out, "Steal"? Yeah, that was a funny 48 hours.
No one who cares about the team is laughing now. If it turns out the Islanders so badly misplayed the Tavares situation that they'll have to attempt a sign-and-trade just to recoup a few assets, are you seriously fricking kidding me that Snow would get to make that deal?
(And a word to the owners: if you're planning on keeping Snow around as something like a President of Hockey Operations, then you're already saying you don't care about hiring Dean Lombardi or any of the best GM candidates available. They know what Snow is. They know they won't have clear communication with you, full autonomy to make hockey decisions or the ability to remove some of Snow's cronies.)
Whether it's Lombardi, Mike Futa, Paul Fenton, Bill Guerin, Tom Fitzgerald, internal candidates like Claude Loiselle, Chris Lamoriello or anyone else, the new general manager should get the chance to present his case for Tavares -- to lay out his vision for making the Islanders a Stanley Cup contender. And if Tavares still decides he's done as an Islander, the new general manager can begin charting the course for the team's next rebuild. If nothing else, it would be a fitting way to welcome the GM to the New York Islanders.
Even if the best candidates are not available until the successful teams they work for are eliminated from the playoffs, why is Garth Snow still GM? Turn the page, clear the stench and give the franchise some hope.