Face it: if Garth Snow had made all of the player personnel moves that Lou Lamoriello has so far as Islanders GM, there would be a march on Eisenhower Park.
In the excitement over the removal of the embarrassing regime of Snow and installation of Lamoriello as leader of hockey operations, somewhere along the line it seems people believe the legendary ex-Devils architect is untouchable.
Since the painful exit of John Tavares, there has been a lot of puffed-out chests and declarations of Hey, Screw Tavares -- We've Got Lou and We Can't Go Wrong.
Which is all very easy to say in July, when the Islanders' record for 2018-19 sits at 0-0-0. Reality hasn't bit yet.
The hiring of Lamoriello was smart, necessary. With the Islanders, he brought instant credibility. His hiring of Barry Trotz was a major victory.
But he had a brutal first day of free agency on July 1, giving a four-year deal at a $3 million-per cap hit to 31-year-old Leo Komarov -- an energy player who is fun to watch every few games or so, but accomplishes little with the hockey puck. Then he gave $2.75 million for one season of 34-year-old Valtteri Filppula, who is four years past being a valuable player.
The pushback you may hear (actually, I was on the receiving end of this by a respected Islanders loyalist) is that Komarov and Filppula are two accomplished NHLers replacing borderline AHL players like Alan Quine.
But the funny thing is, Matt Martin was later re-acquired. Tom Kuhnhackl was signed. On Monday, Ross Johnston was awarded a four-year, one-way contract. And here I thought Johnston -- tough, but limited -- may have been one of the depth guys being replaced.
Individually, all these fourth-liners (add Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck…who else am I missing?) are good. You don't need six of them.
The counter-argument is that Johnston is only making a million a year. It doesn't matter. The point is, he was signed to take an NHL roster spot for the next four years.
My hope is the bar is higher than this.
It's not like Lamoriello has an unblemished record. After the Devils won the Cup in 2003, he made a lot of mistakes -- including some puzzling free agent signings for New Jersey -- in his last dozen years on that job.
It's also curious that while Lamoriello has improved the AHL roster with some depth signings, he has yet to make any major coaching changes in Bridgeport, which has been a disaster under head coach Brent Thompson. If Lamoriello is still evaluating because there has been so much on his plate since taking over, fair enough. But you would think if he's going to upgrade the coaching staff in the AHL, it would be done by the end of this month.
There are still plenty of reasons to have faith in the iconic hockey boss. He was the right man at the right time for this franchise. With Tavares gone, his steady hand and experience becomes even more essential.
But Trotz aside, here is the Lamoriello scorecard so far with player personnel:
Gone: Tavares, Calvin de Haan, Jaroslav Halak
Retained: Johnston, Thomas Hickey
Added: Filppula, Robin Lehner, Komrarov, Jan Kovar, Kuhnhackl, Martin
The passion behind the anti-Tavares sentiment is to be expected -- and some of it is deserved over his clumsy exit -- and pride in one's team is always great. But let's not cross into delusion.
All those people saying all of these moves are great…check back in December.
We have joked about "making it look mean," but the reality is teams haven't won on the "We're not gonna get pushed around anymore!" credo in a very long time.
"In Lou We Trust"? That's another common return volley when anyone dares to laugh at, or simply question, Lamoriello's latest move.
If the goal is to build a bridge for three years to Belmont, the trust is there. He also cannot and would not ever say he is tanking the upcoming season, because that's not how any GM -- especially Lamoriello -- operates.
But this is not a good hockey team right now…not that there's anything wrong with that. Just like there's nothing wrong with wondering about Lamoriello's decisions.