sleep 5"It's not about speed, it's about effort," Scott Gordon said in our one-on-one conversation the other day. "It's not about having great quickness, it's about having the desire to get there and make the play."

 

The reason I asked to meet with the first-year head coach was my curiosity about his plans for the Islanders' style of play going-forward. But first, a three-paragraph review of how we got here:

 

When he was hired last August, Gordon brought a specific system to the Islanders from Providence of the AHL. Garth Snow's belief in his strategy was a big factor in the coach getting his first NHL opportunity. Despite being predicted to finish last in the league by many experts, the Islanders may not have set the league on fire but they were a fun watch and stayed competitive at 10-12-2. Gordon received some raves. The Canucks invented the term "pre-pinch" and discussed how difficult the Islanders were to play against. Then the roof caved in - Rick DiPietro was lost for the season, an injury epidemic hit. There was plenty of poor play and, yes, some imperfect coaching.

 

There were two signature moments of the collapse. A 9-2 embarrassment in Pittsburgh on Dec. 11 was a seismic jolt to the Islanders' confidence. After an overtime loss to Washington on Dec. 16, Brendan Witt shared with Greg Logan of Newsday his lack of faith in Gordon's ultra-aggressive system. From the beginning of December through January 19, the Islanders won two games.

 

Around the start of a brutal five-game homestand in mid-January, Gordon tinkered more and more with his system. As a result, the Islanders looked sharper while undermanned in tight losses to the Rangers, Boston, New Jersey and Washington. They proceeded to win four games in a row. Yesterday's win in front of a sold-out crowd at home erased some of the pain of the 9-2 blowout by Pittsburgh and was the latest example of Gordon's changes keeping the Islanders competitive.

 

sleep 5So here's where we are today:

 

If Gordon was so confident in his highly-aggressive style of play that he brought to the Island, should we assume he'll go completely back to it when he feels he has more players to execute it?

 

I posed the question to Gordon in the cramped quarters of the coaches' change room at Iceworks. As he does sometimes, he quietly sent a challenge volley: "What are we doing differently"?

 

I provided my take, that his Islanders appear to be playing more of a 1-1-3 now. That Gordon at times is keeping a left wing or right wing in the neutral zone that I hadn't seen until about a month ago. I mentioned that it looked like his team was more cautious on faceoff plays, that they were still aggressive but not always go-go-go, not always pre-pinching. I told him that a few of his players shared with me their surprise when he entered the home team locker room with an alteration a few weeks ago at the second intermission when his team had the lead. (They won the game). I figured I was about 50% right, but now I was 100% out of material. So I asked him, "Is this a test, Scott"?

 

He said, "No," and with that got up from his locker stall and went to the dry-erase board. As I tried to follow along with my Nassau CC/La Salle U education, the head coach drew up a few examples of what he has changed, what's gone right and what's gone wrong. While Gordon didn't make a point of saying any of his chalk talk was off-the-record, I'm keeping it there for two reasons:

 

1. Whether I was the former PR person or a current blogger, I'm from the Bill Belichick school of believing most strategy stays in the room. Since Gordon fanatically is too, he probably meant to keep it there.

 

2. Even with the coach generously taking the time to draw it up for me, I still have no clue what they're doing differently after neutral-zone faceoffs.

 

"Sometimes you're dealt a hand," said Gordon, referring to his league-trouncing statistic of man-games lost to injury. "Sometimes you have to make adjustments. But I don't think you'll find anyone who'll say we're still not playing a very aggressive system."

 

This is true. I called up a few scouts that attended the Islanders' shootout loss to Los Angeles last Tuesday. They concurred. "You have to understand where Gordon's coming from," said one. "His team had nights when they were getting their doors blown off. He believes in his system and I'm sure when he gets the horses he'll go most of the way back to it. But as much as it may have killed him, he had to do something to prevent the occasional blowout and third period collapse. His lineup was decimated. His team's psyche had to hurt from the long losing streaks. The coach did the right thing."

 

Okay, I asked the scout. Does that mean if Gordon made the adjustments earlier, the Islanders might be pushing for 8th place instead of Tavheduch?

 

"Let's not get carried away," the scout said, laughing. "That team is really, really thin and with guys like DiPietro and Weight and all the dmen out, forget about it. They're still going to lose games. You can break up your system to stay competitive, but no - they could have played an all-out trap and would still be out of it. You do what Gordon did to keep the games close and get the occasional win."

 

sleep 5Like yesterday over the Penguins. Although I knew Gordon wouldn't pull a Bill Stewart "Did you see our lineup?" I tried to press him about needing more players with the skill-set to play his system. The coach wouldn't go there, but emphasized that his style of play demands effort more than speed.

 

"When we have failed, it's not because the player lacked the speed to make the play," said Gordon. "It's because he either didn't execute properly or he didn't make the effort."

 

To use a Gordon phrase, here's my "take-away" from our conversation:

 

It's possible he may not be the stubborn, inflexible, go-go-system-crazed coach that I and maybe other writers have made him out to be. Let's give that one some more time.

 

And if it's not about speed and quickness but a desire to go hard for 60 minutes and to commit to Scott Gordon's system, the Islanders need to find about ten new players for season 2 of his NHL coaching career.

 

 

I'll have more on Scott Gordon in the weeks ahead about other aspects of his coaching, but felt it was important to address the system issue now. Talk about it in Comments. In case you missed it, please note details below on Point Blank Night II.

Tags: News

Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The Islanders said they were going to make a change to their hockery operations, and they certainly made a large splash in that area by hiring Hockey Hall of Fame member Lou Lamoriello as their president of hockey operations. 

Well, Lamoriello's championship pedigree joining the Islanders has reportely impressed captain John Tavares, per Newsday's Andrew Gross. He states that what Lamoriello and Tavares want for the Islanders has a "convergence there."

Lamoriello said that he doesn't view the Isles as a rebuiling team, but instead, a few pieces away from being a true contender.

Tags: John Tavares
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Lamoriello hired by Islanders 00:00:42
Sal Licata and Jon Hein discuss the Islanders' decision to hire Lou Lamoriello as their president of hockey operations Tuesday.

Sal Licata and Jon Hein discuss the Islanders' decision to hire Lou Lamoriello as their president of hockey operations Tuesday. 


Lamoriello hired by Islanders 00:00:55
New Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello discusses his role with the team and what impresses him about John Tavares.

The mission for Lou Lamoriello is simple: Return the Islanders to the Stanley Cup-winning powerhouse they once were.

Fulfilling that objective is going to take some time. But it was the challenge, the inevitable journey that enticed Lamoriello to leave his post with the Maple Leafs as a senior advisor, and join the Islanders as their new president of hockey operations.

"First of all, I was impressed with the conversation I had with [co-owner] Scott Malkin and his vision, his commitment, and his support to the Islanders," Lamoriello said in his first conference call with the media since the hiring. "I also look at it as a challenge to bring the Islanders back to where they were."

 

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Feb 9, 2016; Newark, NJ, USA; Former New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello speaks during the number retirement ceremony for former New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Feb 9, 2016; Newark, NJ, USA; Former New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello speaks during the number retirement ceremony for former New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

There could be a time when we look back and wonder why Islanders ownership declined to perform a complete executive search, why they chose not to interview the many promising candidates available to run the club's hockey operations.

But in the end, when your franchise is rotting at its core - so much so that your franchise player is not even engaging in any discussions of substance with you - what's really needed is a master surgeon. In getting Lou Lamoriello, owner Scott Malkin found the perfect person for the job.

With the arrival of Lamoriello as Islanders President of Hockey Operations, the excuse-making is over.

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The Islanders announced Tuesday that former Maple Leafs/Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has indeed joined their staff as president of hockey operations.

It was rumored by The Athletic's Arthur Staple Monday that Lamoriello was set to join the Islanders in some capacity "in a matter of days." Well, it was less than a day since that report came out that New York decided to release the news themselves.

"We are grateful to Larry Tanenbaum and the Toronto Maple Leafs for their courtesy in allowing this move," Malkin said. "We are committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization as we pursue our program to compete at the highest level."

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A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)
A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)

It appears the Islanders have made a move to clean up their hockey operations after all.

Former Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello is reportedly set to run the Isles' hockey operations "in a matter of days," per The Athletic's Arthur Staple. Lamoriello has been rumored to join the Islanders in some capacity next season. However, that capacity was unknown given Garth Snow's GM and president of hockey operations role. 

With Lamoriello about to join them for real, Snow's position within the organization is currently unknown. But Staple's sources say that Lamoriello will be "fully in charge."

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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

In the history of the franchise, there have been 36 instances of which that an Islanders' player has received a vote for the Hart Trophy. How many can you name? 

Test your knowledge by playing the quiz below...

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders have reportedly begun discussion with former Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello on a position within their organization, per SportsNet's John Shannon.

The Leafs officially promoted Kyle Dubas to GM over the weekend, and according to The Athletic's Arthur Staple, Lamoriello "has no intention of staying on to perform" his advisory role he is supposed to transition to with Toronto. 

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said that all aspects of the team's hockey operations was to be evaluated, and adding someone to their front office was in the cards.

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Daily News Live: Sports gambling 00:03:44
Eric Chemi of CNBC joins Daily News Live to discuss the legalization of sports gambling and the ramifications of this newly amended bill.

The United States Supreme Court struck down a 25-year old law on Monday that had basically prevented all states except Nevada from having legalized sports gambling. "The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make," the Supreme Court announced. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own."

The ruling was an enormous immediate victory for the state of New Jersey, which could have a gambling venue open in Monmouth Park within a few weeks, according to the NY Post. There will be a press conference in Monmouth Park Monday at 1 p.m. Aside from New Jersey, The Post notes that New York and Illinois are among roughly 15 other states who have "introduced bills to legalize and regulate sports betting tied to the Supreme Court outcome." 

The NBA and MLB have been preparing for Monday's potential outcome, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who said each league had hired lobbying firms, submitted written statements, and sent executives to testify in statehouses. Windhorts added that every professional sports league had been involved, with the NBA and MLB at the forefront...

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A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)
A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)

Islanders co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin said they will "be evaluating all aspects of our hockey operations" last month, and since that brief statement that didn't involve press questions, no change has yet to be made. 

Garth Snow still sits in his chair with his president and general manager titles on his desk, but that could very well change if the Islanders decide to pursue Lou Lamoriello, who isn't returning as the Maple Leafs' GM next season

It was part of a contract with the Leafs that had Lamoriello in the GM role for three seasons before transitioning over to an advisory role. However, according to The Athletic's Arthur Staple, Lamoriello "has no intention of staying on to perform" in that role, per his sources. 

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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) moves the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) moves the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Rookie year is in the books for Islanders C Mathew Barzal, and it was certainly a success. Barzal led all rookies in points (85) last season, making him the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy. 

Unfortunately, though, the Islanders didn't make the playoffs, which means Barzal shipped back to his home of Coquitlam, British Columbia to get his offseason training regimen under way. HIs training, at first, is more of a recovery as he and Sportcore Performance owner Rob Williams focus on making sure every little muscle is in tact before starting the real workouts. 

"Nothing too heavy, a lot of core work," Barzal told New York Hockey Journal's Leo Scaglione Jr. "I'm making sure everything is moving right and working well. Your groins and little muscles take a beating all year, so I strengthen my legs again and get them back to feeling good and strong."

Tags: Mathew Barzal
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Former Islanders GM Bill Torrey passed away at his home in Florida on Wednesday night at the age of 83.

Torrey was the GM of the Islanders from 1972 to 1992, overseeing their four straight Stanley Cup championships, and was inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995,

"Bill was the first employee, general manager and architect of one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history - the New York Islanders, winners of four straight Stanley Cups," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press release.

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Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) skates with the puck during the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) skates with the puck during the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Construction on the new Islanders arena at Belmont Park is still slated to begin as early as next spring, according to a timeline presented at a board meeting on Monday.

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A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)
A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan released a statement Monday saying Lou Lamoriello will not return as GM for next season. 

With Islanders co-owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin looking to hire a top hockey executive to their front office, Lamoriello has been among the possible candidates. 

However, Shanahan pointed out in his press release that it was always the plan to have Lamoriello on as GM for three seasons before converting to Senior Advisor for the next four years. 

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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

Anders Lee will represent Team USA at the 2018 Men's World Championship. The tournament will be held in Denmark from May 4-20.

Lee set career-highs in points (62), goals (40) and assists (22) in 2017/18 for the Islanders. 

USA is in Group B with Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Korea, Latvia and Norway. Their first game is against Canada on May 4 at 10:15 a.m.

Lee represented the USA as they the bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF Men's World Championship. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is the team captain. 

Tags: Anders Lee
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 (Charles LeClaire)
(Charles LeClaire)

It remains difficult to comprehend the process and timing of the so-called evaluation period that Islanders ownership claims to be in, and how they failed to reach any conclusions by the end of two sad seasons.

The only thing for certain is that it has now been more than two weeks since Jon Ledecky's public promise of action to the club's fans.

"The season has just ended," Ledecky said in reading a prepared statement on April 9, although the season had really ended months earlier. "As an organization, we will be evaluating all aspects of our hockey operations - and then we will make decisions based on what is best for the future of our club. I am not here today to talk specifically about any individuals - including the players, coaches and the general manager. We believe it is essential to our success to have a thoughtful evaluation process, to look at the past, and more importantly, to assess the future of our team on and off the ice."

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New York Islanders center Matthew Barzal shoots the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Matthew Barzal shoots the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

Islanders forward Mathew Barzal is among three finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy that honors the NHL's top rookie.

The 20-year-old Barzal is considered the favorite for the award after scoring 22 goals, 63 assists and 85 points in 82 games for New York this season.

Tags: Mathew Barzal
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General view of the National Anthem as a flag is unfurled before the game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)
General view of the National Anthem as a flag is unfurled before the game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Co-owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky are in the process of identifying a top executive to join the Islanders' hockey operations department, two NHL sources confirmed on Tuesday to SNY's Point Blank.

Since current Islanders President/GM/Alternate Governor Garth Snow has not been relieved of his duties more than a week since the end of another disastrous season, it is believed that the new hire would become Islanders general manager while Snow would remain President (or given a new title).

The process includes asking other NHL teams for permission to speak to some of their executives. Among those expected to be on Malkin and Ledecky's list of highly-regarded hockey people to interview are Julian BriseBois (Lightning), Paul Fenton (Predators), and Tom Fitzgerald (Devils), who are assistant general managers with their respective clubs.

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Nov 18, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates after New York Islanders left wing Anders Ladd (27) scored a goal in the first period in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
Nov 18, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates after New York Islanders left wing Anders Ladd (27) scored a goal in the first period in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)

Islanders RW Josh Bailey has been added to Team Canada's roster for the IIHF World Championship in Denmark, marking World Championship of his career.

Bailey is replacing Blues rookie D Vince Dunn, who is suffering from an upper-body injury.

The 28-year-old forward had a career year with the Isles this season, posting a career-high 71 points on 18 goals and 53 assists over 76 games.

Tags: Josh Bailey
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 (Kelvin Kuo)
(Kelvin Kuo)

Former Islanders second-round pick G Mikko Koskinen may be seeing a reunion with his only NHL team as he is reportedly leaving his KHL club SKA, per Sport-Express' Igor Eronko.

Though multiple sources have said Koskinen is expected to sign somewhere in the NHL next season, The Athletic's Arthur Staple says the Islanders haven't spoken on him yet. Eronko believes Koskinen signing with the Isles isn't a likely scenario.

After the team drafted him back in 2009, Koskinen played just four games with the Islanders during the 2010-11 season. But that was all the action he saw with the NHL club before shipping off to Finland to play in the SM-liga, or Finnish pro league.

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders GM Garth Snow expressed optimism on Monday in the future of the Islanders despite the team missing the playoffs for the last two seasons.

Snow, who along with head coach Doug Weight has expressed the belief that he'll be back next season, said the Islanders are close to a championship. And noted how far the team has come since he took over.

"For me, 2006, when I took over this position, it was a situation where it was an all-out rebuild where we had to bring in talent through the draft," Snow told reporters. "Now we're in a situation where we feel we can compete for a Stanley Cup."

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A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)
A general view of the ice surface prior to the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Andy Marlin)

When it comes to his career as Islanders general manager, Garth Snow is a blessed man. Despite a twelve-year run of failure, the kindness shown Snow by his employers has been extraordinary. Perhaps one of these years he will pay it back, and pay it forward.

Many people outside Islanders Country, and even some of the residents, do not have a grasp of the lengths two ownership groups have gone to keep Snow in his position. A brief recap is necessary.

Let's start at the beginning, in 2006, when Snow was given his dream job by Charles Wang after the expiration of Neil Smith's 40-day summer internship. At the time, Snow was just a few months removed from his playing career. As a manager of any kind, he did not have a single hour of practical experience.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

With the Islanders' 2017-18 season officially under wraps, the biggest storyline for the offseason will be what captain John Tavares decides to do for next season.

At the moment, his mindset is staying with the team that drafted from first overall back in 2009. But Tavares didn't close the door on checking out the free agent market as well.

"This is obviously where I hope to be. I've always stated that," Tavares said. "But obviously, I have some time to think about my situation and go from there...

Tags: John Tavares, Scott Thompson
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General view of the National Anthem as a flag is unfurled before the game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)
General view of the National Anthem as a flag is unfurled before the game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky apologized on Monday for ownership failing the fans, but refused to speak specifically about the future of GM Garth Snow, head coach Doug Weight, or any players.

"We are committed to long term success," Ledecky said. "Any decisions we make are for the long term success of our hockey club."

CLICK BELOW TO READ LEDECKY'S FULL STATEMENT

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Aug 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow speaks at a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Two outdoor regular-season NHL games will be played at Yankee Stadium during the 2013-14 season as part of the 2014 Stadium Series. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Aug 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow speaks at a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Two outdoor regular-season NHL games will be played at Yankee Stadium during the 2013-14 season as part of the 2014 Stadium Series. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

The Islanders are reportedly expected to retain GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight for next season, according to Newsday's Andrew Gross.

Snow, Weight and co-owner Jon Ledecky will address the media on Monday after the Islanders finished 35-37-10, the second-worst record in the Metropolitan Division.

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Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen (51) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen (51) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

The Islanders rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit to score three unanswered goals en route to a 4-3 win over the Red Wings in their season finale on Saturday. << Box score

Tags: John Tavares
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Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (86) chase the puck in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (86) chase the puck in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

DETROIT -- Saturday night's game could be center John Tavares' last with the New York Islanders.

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Doug Weight, Jordan Eberle and the Islanders organization as a whole expressed their sorrow over the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy.

The hockey community is in mourning after 14 people died as a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a Canadian junior hockey team, collided with a semi-truck on Friday night. Various members of the Islanders organization have given their thoughts and prayers to the team before their season finale on Saturday night.

"Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to the Humboldt Broncos and all of those affected by the devastating tragedy," the Islanders' official Twitter posted...

Tags: Jordan Eberle
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New York Rangers right wing Malte Stromwall and New York Islanders defenseman David Quenneville come together during the third period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Rangers right wing Malte Stromwall and New York Islanders defenseman David Quenneville come together during the third period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders signed 20-year-old defenseman David Quenneville to a three-year entry-level deal, the team announced Friday.

Quenneville, the Islanders' seventh-round pick in 2016, led the WHL with 80 points this season, scoring 26 goals and totaling 54 assists in 70 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers.

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 (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

On Thursday night, the Islanders played their last home game of the season. For John Tavares, it could be his last home game as a member of the team.

Tavares' contract is up after the season and he will be one of the most coveted free agents of the summer. After the game, Tavares tried to downplay its significance and reaffirmed his public desire to stay with the team...

Tags: John Tavares
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New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders beat the Rangers 2-1 in their home finale behind goals from Thomas Hickey and Anthony Beauvillier. << Box score

First period

  • 4:25 NYR Kevin Hayes (PPG); Assists: Mats Zuccarello, Brady Skjei

Second period

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New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)
New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders know Thursday night will be their final home game of the season as well as the last time they call Barclays Center their sole home.

But the most important bit of information remains unknown, and will likely remain a mystery for almost three more months: Will Thursday night also be the final time John Tavares suits up at home for the Islanders?

An uncertain future will overshadow the waning days of a disappointing season Thursday night when the Islanders host the New York Rangers in a battle of teams playing out the string.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

If Isles fans want a little reassurance that captain John Tavares would be in blue and orange next season, don't ask Tavares himself. 

Finishing up the final year of his six-year, $33 million deal, Tavares notes that he wants everything to work out with the franchise, but he wouldn't promise that he will still daunt an Islanders jersey next season. 

"The fan base has been tremendous since I got here," Tavares told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "People say certain things. I hope it all works out, too, and I'm back as well. I just want to focus one game at a time and finishing the season strong and in the days and weeks ahead there will be plenty of time to think about it and start looking at the future and move forward."

Tags: John Tavares
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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

As is often the case when it comes to this franchise, the Islanders need their fans once again.

Thursday night. For John Tavares.

There should be no mistaking this. If you care about keeping Tavares in orange and blue, this is a code red...

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) moves the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) moves the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Matthew Barzal and John Tavares scored two goals apiece and the Islanders overcame a late rally by the Flyers to win on Tuesday night, 5-4.  >> Box score

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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

NEW YORK -- For the last week, the New York Islanders received reminders of what could have been. But at least they won't have to worry about watching another team celebrate clinching a playoff berth Tuesday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in the penultimate home game of the season at Barclays Center.

 

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Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports  (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Thomas Greiss will be the Islanders' starting goaltender for Tuesday's matchup against the Flyers, head coach Doug Weight said.

Also, Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Bailey return to the lineup, replacing Brandon Davidson and Dennis Seidenberg out. Bailey has been out the past two games with an upper body injury. On the other hand, Clutterbuck's injury after leaving Saturday's game was undisclosed. He didn't practice on Monday, but he will be good to go tonight. 

The Islanders have just three games to go in their 2017-18 campaign, with the Rangers on Thursday and Red Wings on Saturday as well.

 

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Bailey, Thomas Greiss
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 (Anne-Marie Sorvin)
(Anne-Marie Sorvin)

For some Islanders players, there is still something to play for with three games left in a disappointing season. 

One of those players is RW Tanner Fritz, who is trying to showcase his skills to be a mainstay with the Islanders next season. Recently, he is doing a good job of that by collecting two points in the past three games, with one being a goal against the Devils this past Saturday. 

"I want to try to get them thinking over the summer that I can be a player that can play in the NHL and prove to them that I'm worthy to play in this league," Fritz told Newsday's Andrew Gross.

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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Mar 31, 2018; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) reacts after scoring a goal against New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Mar 31, 2018; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) reacts after scoring a goal against New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

Taylor Hall scored back-to-back goals in a high-scoring second period and Blake Coleman scored the decisive goal in the third period to fuel the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday night.  >> Box score

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Feb 24, 2018; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Feb 24, 2018; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The New Jersey Devils have held a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference every day since winning their season opener on Oct. 7.

Yet with only five games remaining on their schedule, the Devils are clinging to the eighth and final playoff berth in the East, trying to stave off a late-season push by the surging Florida Panthers.

On Saturday night at the Prudential Center, the Devils (40-28-9) look to take another step closer to their first playoff appearance in six years when they host the New York Islanders (32-36-10).

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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Despite a high octane offensive performance, the Islanders couldn't keep the Leafs off the board in a 5-4 loss at home.  >> Box score

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Islanders head coach Doug Weight wasn't a fan of what Josh Ho-Sang said about the team sending him to the AHL this season. 

Ho-Sang was sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after the team said he needed to work on his defense. Weight said he was "disappointed" by the comments, but noted the team will talk to him soon.

"I think the natural reaction, the defensive reaction is to tell him to look in the mirror, look at his production, look at what he's done," Weight told Newsday's Laura Albanese. "The other reaction should be from us. We should look in the mirror. We should all learn from these events and look to them. Most importantly, we should discuss it with him rather than discuss it through these cameras and we will do that."

Tags: Josh Ho-Sang
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New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk celebrates his goal (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk celebrates his goal (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are two weeks away from embarking upon a pursuit they hope will allow the franchise to achieve something it hasn't done in more than 50 years. The New York Islanders will have far more modest and shorter-term goals in mind Friday night, when they host the Maple Leafs at Barclays Center. >> Read more

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Mar 7, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang (66) skates during warmup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports (Perry Nelson)
Mar 7, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang (66) skates during warmup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports (Perry Nelson)

You can describe the Islanders with many different words and adjectives -- whatever your heart desires -- but coherent would be far from the list.

It's difficult to gauge what plans this team has in store for the future other than being in a constant state of mediocrity and in perpetual rebuild mode.

Even when there are positives, like Mathew Barzal's incredible rookie campaign, there are plenty of distractions that keep you wondering if this team has any real leadership in the front office...

Tags: Josh Ho-Sang
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Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (top) reacts after a video review disallowed an Islanders goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight (top) reacts after a video review disallowed an Islanders goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Monday night made final what was seemingly inevitable for the better part of the last two months or so.

In the midst of quite the disappointing season, the Islanders will miss the playoffs for the second straight time.

What makes it more disheartening was how well the team got off out of the gate this season. After a 5-2 win against the Canucks on Nov. 28, the Islanders were riding pretty high at 15-7-2 and looked like a bona fide playoff team, although there were holes that needed to be corrected.

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Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (86) chase the puck in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (86) chase the puck in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Andrew Ladd scored the game-winning goal in the final minutes to help the Islanders beat the Senators in a back-and-forth affair on Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. >> Box score

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier
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Mar 20, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Chris Wagner (21) attempts a wrap around on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 20, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Chris Wagner (21) attempts a wrap around on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

OTTAWA -- Two teams sliding toward the regular-season finish line and early tee times will meet up on short rest at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday night.

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