The New York Islanders will look drastically different next season, even if John Tavares decides not to leave via free agency.
In resounding – if inevitable? – news on Tuesday, the Islanders announced that Garth Snow and Doug Weight have been “relieved of their duties” as GM and head coach. The least surprising part is that Lou Lamoriello will act as GM after recently taking on an all-encompassing role with the Isles.
The weird part is in the wording of the press release, as there’s a stench of legalese to this “not” amounting to them both being fired. Officially speaking.
After the typical copy-and-paste quote featuring Lamoriello thanking them both, the Islanders noted that … Weight and Snow will remain with the team? So, technically, they haven’t been fired as much as they’ve been demoted. But they have functionally been fired:
/Nominates this for “the most Islanders thing of the day.”
Here’s a guess: Snow is being soft-fired because of his contract. About a week ago, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks made mention of a “poison pill” that might have been part of Snow’s deal as GM. That might explain this discordant element of the franchise’s makeover.
This change comes not all that long after Islanders fans raised funds to put up “Snow Must Go” billboards close to Barclays Center. Snow acted as Isles GM since July 2006, so he certainly enjoyed ample opportunities to turn things around, particularly when the franchise landed John Tavares.
(And then Snow enjoyed the luxury of Tavares’ ridiculous bargain of a second contract, which is just now expiring.)
[MORE: Lamoriello has his hands full with these Islanders.]
In Weight’s case, the former veteran NHL player had his strengths as a coach, yet the Islanders seemed like a structural mess. Their defensive issues were most memorably highlighted by Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky.
Lamoriello is now tasked with finding a coach who can better optimize the Islanders roster … which remains the biggest wild card of them all.
Will Lamoriello find a coach that might entice Tavares to return, if that’s much of a factor? Would luring in Ilya Kovalchuk make the difference (or would re-signing Tavares increase their chances of landing Kovalchuk)?
The Islanders face a ton of huge questions during this upcoming off-season, and the biggest one might be out of their hands. Lamoriello & Co. just made necessary calls on the second and third most important choices by “relieving” Weight and Snow “of their duties.”
Now, as far as these moves making it more or less likely to keep Tavares? Well, that’s clearly up to debate.
Buckle up, Isles fans.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.