Arrogance and Frugality: the actual reasons to bash Charles Wang

Two respected hockey journalists have let loose salvos in the general direction of the Isles Architect of the Incompetence, Charles Wang. A myriad of Isles fans have seen fit to debase these individuals and call for their heads, because “Wang saved the Islanders”. These people, to put it bluntly, are shortsighted.

Pierre LeBrun’s point was that the Isles rebuild should, SHOULD be ready to bear fruit, but they can’t speed the process along as no veteran with options will enter zany Wang’s world of fun.

Larry Brooks was even more damning. His contention was simple: The New York Islanders don’t matter any more.

Both men are right, but Brooks list of offenses was wrong.

He lamented the stalled development of Okposo and Grabner, both with long-term extensions in pocket. He erroneously included Frans Nielsen in this group as well. Firstly, very little about Frans Nielsen’s game has regressed. He is legitimately one of the best 2 way players in the NHL. The one area of actual regression for the freshly re-signed centerman is face-offs, which has become a team-wide problem. This is odd, considering that face-off assassin Doug Weight is on the coaching staff.  Frans’ assist total is slightly down, but his goalscoring is slighty up, and he will in all likelyhood finish within a point or 2 of his career high. And now, he will be a Islander for the majority of his career at a very reasonable price.

Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner, two whipping boys for the fanbase at the moment, have not had the seasons we’d like. Grabner still has an outside shot at 20 goals in a season where he’s been CONSIDERABLY slowed by a groin injury, which has effected his greatest asset, his speed, tremendously. Okposo can match or surpass his career high of 19 goals with a strong finish.  The problem for these two players has been and will continue to be consistency. Why? Like with Nielsen’s face-off struggles, these two are getting no quality coaching. We’ll get to that in a minute.

One noticeable brightside this season has been the production of the Islanders top line, which has accounted for roughly 60% of the teams offense. Tavares and his merry wingmen are among the most feared trios in the NHL. Moulson is the net mouth finisher, evolving into a well rounded hockey player who knows his defensive responsibilities. P.A. Parenteau, a supposed AHL Depth signing, has become a feared play-maker. His vision is tremendous. His bergenhiem-like penchant for ill-timed offensive zone penalties is infuriating, but lets be real, Sean Bergenhiem never had the goods to score 70 points. This chemistry is why Parenteau must be re-signed, cost be damned. We’ll get to why later.

Nonetheless, the emergence of these linemates notwithstanding, none of this is possible without John Tavares. He is taking a run at a PPG season and a top 5 finish in the scoring race. He is the straw that stirs the drink and the face of the franchise. I was at the Coliseum the night we drafted him and the underlying tension that was there waiting for us to screw that pick up… yeah. Thank Dog we nailed that layup.

The three other positive developments that have happened in spite of the instructional vacuum that is our coaching staff are the return of NHL caliber goaltending to Long Island (Nabokov has been inspirational), the emergence of a legitimate number 1 defense pairing in MacDonald and Hamonic (Who is somehow a +9 on one of the worst teams ever), and the recent development of the Seeker as he’s called, Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom, and their new-found running buddy, Josh Bailey. The later being perhaps the most important development, because it may have saved Josh Bailey. Thank Dog. 

  Josh was getting written off as Le Bust. But since the switch to wing, he’s found his game. He’s showeing he can be a 20 goal Winger in this league, which frankly, is a damn welcome sight.

Unfortunately, that’s about where the positives end. You can toss passable grades to Pandolfo and Staois who are both clearly on borrowed time and have done a wonderful job of giving literally everything they have to the team, but neither should be back next year.

 Nearly every other player on the team has been a disappointment. Jurcina is an NHL worst -31. Streit’s decision making has been abysmal. Mottau and Rolston going to Boston for a bag of week old dog crap was an outstanding trade because Rolston in particular HAD QUIT on this team.

Reese has been above average but injured often. Eaton has been about passable.

Now that the great Josh Bailey conundrum has possibly been solved, what to do with Nino Niederreiter? He has to be a top line player in the AHL next year. You put him with Kabanov, and let them do some damage. It’s pretty simple. You don’t double down on this mistake by keeping him up here.

Let’s get into the hows and whys these mistakes keep happening:

Charles Wang meddles in hockey operations without knowing a damn thing about hockey.

He’s replaced an actual NHL scouting contingent with a unit half their size (Most teams employ 16-20 scouts, we have 8) and a Center Ice account. That’s a joke. The reason it’s a joke, is because some of the most important stuff you can watch at a game occurs behind a play. Who is busting it back into the zone? Who is cherry picking rather than hustling? Who is demanding an explanation from a referee? Who is engaged on the bench advising teammates and who is sulking? This is why scouts exist. To target, more than just from boxscores and highlights, the players you want in your organization. 

Among Charles’ most egregious flaws is his unwillingness to spend money on this team, which has been near the bottom of league payroll 4 years running. If not for the league mandated salary floor (hold on) we’d have a payroll half anyone else. This creates an unwinnable scenario. A largely inexperienced GM (with NO PRO SCOUTS!) must seek out financially cheap players to come in on incentive based contracts and attempt to give this very promising young core any sort of support and leadership.

Fans are quick to point out Parenteau, Moulson and Streit as key WINS for Garth Snow. Here’s reality: All 3 were discount rack buys. Who was the last free agent in demand the Isles “won”? Miroslav Satan? They are not equipped to win a bidding war because the owner is unwilling to spend money. As such, the burden falls completely on Snow, to assess a players worth and his cap hit, to plug into this roster.

Compare that with the 40 day tenure of Neil Smith. Look at the names he managed to bring in. He WON bidding on players the caliber of Comrie and Poti, which say what you will, is something we haven’t done in almost half a decade. Now compare that to 4 years of Garth Snow retreads.

The important number for Snow isn’t point potential, but cap-hit. if the player is on an ELC (which inflates a young player’s cap hit through largely difficult to maintain bonuses, see Nino) great. Likewise, if the player is over 35 and available for one of those lovely “35 and older” incentive based deals where he’ll never hit the triggers and thus have a cap hit in some cases 5 times the actual payout (See Doug Weight’s last contract)? Great. Snow has done his masters bidding. 

We iced a payroll last night of 22 million dollars against a team at the cap ceiling. We were further below the floor of 48 million (26 million away!) than our actual on ice salary. That’s no way to run a professional team. To put this another way, the Rangers AHL farm team, the Connecticut Whale (formerly the Hartford Wolfpack) has had an on ice payroll of 19 million dollars some nights this year. A paltry 3 million dollar disparity between an NHL club and an AHL clubs on ice salaries. Inconceivable. 

These 2 things, the unbridled arrogance to interfere in hockey operations and frugality, are the basis of all of Wang’s crimes.

They show up in all facets of the organization, from charging the press for water to charging our honored alumni for parking.Or the audacity to suggest rule changes or question the place of fighting, or suggest a committee which you will sit on to discuss roster acquisitions when you are a hockey neophyte.

Arrogance and Frugality.

That’s why the Isles go off the beaten path in FA signings or in drafting. Who needs scouts? Who needs players in their prime who actually get a payout of salary equal to their caphit? Not Charles Wang’s New York Islanders, that’s for certain.

 

 

 

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Why your team sucks: Eastern Conference

Ah. Team bashing. My favorite hobby. I’ll do the East and see who wants to do the West, because I don’t know those teams as well and want to continue the fine American tradition of out sourcing.

Before we begin, here you go:

New York Islanders:  WE SUCK. We are the most poorly run team in all of sports from our crazy owner to our puppet GM to our clueless Fred Flintstone looking coach to our egomaniac forever injured goalie who controls entirely too much of the organization to our idiotic invisible fanbase to our literally falling apart arena. I cover everything? Good. 

With that out of the way, we may proceed. By division!

NORTHEAST:

Boston: Your goalie is a tea party whacko. Your announcer is a homer douchebag and half your stands are filled with illiterate Southie trash.

Buffalo: “The most passionate fanbase in hockey” has never seen a cup and has a GIANT inferiority complex because of it. And Buffalo is Rustbelt USA.

Montreal: You burn cop cars. Your city smells like cat pee. You’re actually run by the worst GM in the world.

Ottawa: OH. OTTAWA. YOU GET SPECIAL ATTENTION, BECAUSE I HATE YOU SO MUCH. You have a fake history. You claim cups which arent yours. You then try and incorporate the history of the 67s, WHO WILL ALWAYS MATTER MORE IN OTTAWA THAN YOU. You then claim this is your 20th year to sell anniversary jerseys. You cant do both, you dumbasses. Either you’re an OG team or you are not. You are not. Your logo belongs on a pack of condoms and your ‘classy, ambassador of the game’ captain is a secret douchebag. See the SCF vs Anahiem for video evidence.

Toronto: There’s nothing here that needs to be said. The most depressed fanbase Ive ever seen, circled like vultures by the most predatory media I’ve ever seen that both combine to pressure the team into doing moves ‘just because’, which has continued yearly since 1967.

Southeast:

Carolina: Im man enough to admit I love Cam Ward. However, Eric Staal is a doofy looking fuck. Furthermore, you replaced the Hartford Whaler logo (one of sports all time great logos!) witrh a flushing toilet. Stop with the ‘caneiac’ thing too. It’s obnoxious.

 

Florida: I love you, team noone cares about. I love you so much. 1996 SCF run was wonderbar. But you suck. You really can’t draw for shit, and you stole Bill Torrey to build you 20 years after he built us. And without Vanbiesbrouck, you wouldn’t still exist.

Tampon Bay: I hate you. Your ridiculous jerseys. Your proud tradition of never having a goalie. The unmitigated gall to call yourself ‘Hockey Bay’. We get it. You want to be the Red Wings. You aren’t.

Washington: A Visceral, burning hatred exists in my heart for this team. Their fans are the epitome of NU-nhl glass pounding ogres who think allfathers Crosby, Toews and Ovechkin invented hockey. Dale Hunter, who orchestrated one of the most vile, disgusting cheapshots in NHL history patrols their bench. Your franchise is SO AVERSE TO POSTSEASON SUCCESS that you hoisted a REGULAR SEASON CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS BANNER. And yet, nothing these fools can do diminishes the fact that the Islanders absolutely DESTROY you (5-1 All time) in the playoffs. Including on Easter, because God hates you.

Winnipeg: The Frozen North, rather than being giddy that they have a team, have become the ultimate trolls. They boo every star, because they have none. Which is embarrassing enough, but then they troll Atlanta for ‘squandering’ their team. Calgary didn’t do this. Congrats. You have LESS CLASS THAN THE COW TOWN THAT IS CALGARY.

Atlantic Division:

New Jersey: I really, really have nothing on TEam Boring other than outdated trap jokes, outdated Marty’s Sister In Law jokes, and the fact their proud history is playing in a swamp after 2 re-locations and a myriad of financial missteps including currently yet another round of near bankruptcy.

Philadelphia Flyers: Fuck You. Your fans are boorish cavemen who think that FIGHTING PEOPLE AT SPORTS EVENTS is some sort of macho right of passage. You think you live in a city of Champions (Despite the Eagles, Sixers and Flyers ALL SUCKING) and the fact your city is on the FBI Uniformed Crime Report top 10 cities in Murder per capita every year. You make DETROIT look like a bastion of opportunity. Your classless organization values truculence over playing ability, you havent had a goalie for 30 years, and Bobby Nystrom was still onside, so please suck on it long and slow.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Another of the NUnhl Pantheon. Take everything wrong with Boston (half of the fanbase being boorish morons, homertastic announcers). Take everything wrong with Washington (NuNHL devotees with no concept for history, myriad of selfish twat players). Combine them.  You get this bastard child. Oh, and it’s Rustbelt-tastic. Mario was a diver, a fraud, and loved to have someone else fight his battles until he could get a cheapshot in during a scrum. Sidney is a diver, a fraud, and loves to have someone fight his battles until he can PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE DICK DURING A SCRUM. Oh, and Matt Cooke. Matt Cooke. Alternate Captain Matt Cooke.  You are so reviled, Penguins, that the majority of non-pen supporters in the NHL were OVERJOYED with what the Islanders did to you last February.

NY Rangers: Some of the least educated fans in hockey. Derisively chant for Denis POtvin two decades after he retired because their own history is a joke. They took the Cold War off in terms of on ice success. Theyve won EXACTLY one Cup since D-Day (with the Oilers Alumni Allstars). They BUY every name they can, fail, then unceremoniously dump them 3 years later and their idiot fans run out and buy another jersey for “their” new star. Gretzky. Bure. Lindros. Jagr. Holik. Gomez. Drury. Redden. All SPECTACULAR Broadway busts. Think Yankee mentality with Met results. Add to it a completely unjustified smugness like they havent been to the Finals exactly 1 more time than their rivals despite EXISTING 46 More years. Lest we forget in addition to their ceaseless arrogance, their fanbase lowlifes derided a Flyers teams with chants mocking Pelle Lindbergh after he died.

There we go. Why your team sucks. Why my team sucks. Good day.

 

The Frustrating Thing

There is a boisterous debate raging right now on Islandermania (the once official board of the NYI, probably should still be, but I digress).

The title is simply: Are the Islanders the worst team in sports?

Let’s look at the words there and the words not there before we form our opinions.

The word ‘run’ as in “worst run” appears nowhere. There would be several, and I mean several contenders for that crown. The Kansas City Royals haven’t tasted relevance since George Brett stormed out of the dugout in a pinetar induced rage.

The Redskins have been awful through sheer managerial incompetence while far less storied teams such as the Cardinals, Bucs, or Seahawks have managed  to go on amazing postseason runs. Certainly the luster has worn off the Redskins as well as the Raiders, through sheer erosion of the managerial structure.

The Redskins have lacked stability at the top and at the QB positon. Along with left tackle, these are the most important positions on a football team. The parrallel to the Raiders though… yeah. The recently departed Al Davis was a football maverick. He set the table for the AFL-NFL merger, built a dynasty, and more importantly an identity.

The Raider BRAND, despite whats ben a poor decade or 2, has never been more universally recognizeable. It’s an identity. A “we do things our own way” calling card. Yes, we will lead the league in penalties, personal fouls, draft picks based solely on 40 times, drunken kickers, and postgame tirades by coaches. And that’s fine. It’s the Raider identity. The Silver and Black. The fact the Black Hole is very likely on gameday the most intimidating place on the planet. The giant freaking banner COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE that evokes memories of  ‘The Autumn Wind’, of Tim Brown, of Bo Jackson, of Jack Tatum, of Ken Stabler, of Jim Plunkett. Not of Jamarcus Russell. You see, the Raider brand, no matter how many hits the on field product has taken, is capable of conjouring up more then memories of recent failures.

That brings us back to the Islanders. As I’ve opined here many times, the New York Islanders history takes a BACK SEAT TO NO ONE in the NHL, with the obvious exception of Montreal, who everyone (Yes Toronto and Detroit, even you!) in the NHL does. The New York Islanders alltime roster is littered with hall of fame caliber players. Bossy. Trottier. LaFontaine. Turgeon. Nystrom. The beatdown fanbase remembers these names. The reminders around our broken down rink are endless. But there is no shrine to our IDENTITY. Our brand. Thus, the casual fan associates us with what they’ve seen over the past 2 decades. Which frankly, is a hot mess. This past 2 decades of scandel ridden listless ownership combined with an embittered fanbase has  cultivated an environment that has in a word become toxic.

The New York Islanders have become the team perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop. The team that’ll find a way to blow a 2 goal lead in Washington with 3:50 to play. The team that’ll blow a lead with 1:40 to go against New Jersey and lose in regulation. The team that IS HANDPICKED as the catholics to be fed to the lions that were the Penguins the night of Crosby’s return.  

For all of Charles Wang’s many attempts to engender good will with the fans upon initially becoming owner (which he’s long since abandoned), he never grasped the core problem.

He wants to create a ‘family destination’. He wants a ‘fun’ atmosphere. The score is irrelevant (as such, the Islanders have become irrelevant, odd, that.), so long as the kids have a good time with Sponge Bob or whatever the thing Columbus calls a mascot (not the rather innuendo shaped cannon, the bug thing) . Its why “The Chicken Dance” is persona non grata. It’s why he was repulsed by the Penguins game that I and several others beamed about (and still keep on DVR).

The New York Islanders identity IS intimidation. Or more accurately, it was. Now we have an owner that HATES the physicality of the game who has instilled a puppet of a GM and a coach top play the most spineless style of hockey one can envision.

The New York Islanders identity WAS a nasty old dank rink with ruts in the ice and crazy animals banging on the glass in a hellhole called FORT NEVERLOSE.

They realed off 19 straight playoff series wins carving out an identity of intimidation. Clark Gillies beating the holy hell out of Dave Schultz and Terry O’Reilly.  Denis Potvin breaking the record for goals by a defenseman in the same spot where the Garden cretins reviled him for breaking Ulf Nilsson’s leg. Billy Smith slashing Gretzky’s ankle to tatters with almost a gleeful craze on his face.

That’s what we were born out of. We get glimpses now and then.

But it’s not what we’re none for now. That’s the shame of it all.

We’re patsies. The Washington Generals. Also Rans. It’s humiliating.

A fanbase that was integral in building this team and their rink into one of the most feared locales in the history of the NHL has been neutered by a guy who thinks he bought the keys to disney on ice.

For it’s part, the fanbase has turned completely apathetic.

The franchise has become pathetic.

The frustrating thing is we’ve grown to expect nights like last night. Some, for the new shiny prospect toy, have even grown to ACCEPT it.

And with our past, that’s just not right.

The origanizational state of the New York Islanders post deadline.

We’ve learned some things this week.

Garth Snow BELIEVES he can re-sign Pierre Alexander “PAy Me” Parenteau and Evgeni Nabokov. 

Truth be told, unless Nabby wanted to move, as he holds an NMC, he wasn’t going anywhere. I do believe at least 1 will be back. 2 would be very good.

The other development has been the emergence of Josh Bailey on the wing. This is a move he’s shown comfort with in the past, as it lessens his responsibilities and allows him to show his offensive creativity. Why the New York Islanders took so long to get him back there is indicative of why they are… The New York Islanders.

Anyhow the development of Bailey as a top nine Winger gives you flexibility that we desperately needed.

Parenteau-Tavares-Moulson

Grabner-LEGITIMATE/UFA-Okposo

Bailey-Nielsen-Niedereitter

Martin-Cizikas-LEGIT PAIN IN THE ASS. Please.

That’s the thing. We need to address the toughness issue up front.We determined in the offseason it wasn’t a priority. We have skill players. We have a few defensively sound forwards. Other than Matt Martin, WE HAVE NO FORWARD CONSISTANTLY ABLE TO PUNISH THE OPPOSITION ON THE FORECHECK. We have no guy willing to take the body. As we know, Im something of a Garth Snow apologist. I can’t blame the GM when his payroll is HALF the league mandated salary floor.

Vinny was wrong revelation 1: WE NEED AN ASSHOLE. Martin has an edge, but he’s on an island in that regard. He needs a tag partner.

The reality is plumbers we acquired such as Jay Pandolfo (who has my undying respect along with ageless wonder defensemen Steve Staios for still selling out to block shots this late in a lost season at their advanced age) are a dime  dozen, brick layers are a rare breed. We need brick layers. We need an asshole. Raffi Torres. Pat Kaleta. Steve Ott. A guy the other team hates with a passion. We don’t have that guy. Get that guy. they are usually cheap.

Secondly, I was wrong about Mark Streit. The defense corps, aside from Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald, is an utter mess. Mark Eaton should be brought back as the 6th, Reese as the 7th. A child from the farm (DeHaan, Ness, or Donovan) will arrive to the show and be paired with the steady but unspectacular Eaton. Mark Streit is no better than the 4th Defenseman at this point. That’s reality. He needs a BETTER PARTNER THAN HE to excel, and it’s time to get a young impact player on the blueline through either trade or FA signing.

Vinny was wrong revelation #2: Mark Streit is a TERRIBLE captain.

I thought he’d be a good veteran leader by example.

Unfortunately, when you have an invisible man in a suit as GM and a puppet as coach. you need a strong firebrand with that ‘C’.

You have a softspoken coach. You have a silent brooding GM. You have a mouse for a Captain. YOU NEED A LION.

You need a younger Brendan Witt. This needs to be done.

 

If we give a damn… which I’m not entirely sure Isles management does.