Sunday, July 6, 2008

Is Trouble Still Brewing for Ted Nolan in Islander Land?

(Note: I hate to bombard you with Islander-related material when I haven't even seen you since Wednesday -- hope you had a nice holiday weekend -- but I think this is a situation that certainly calls for it.)

If you remember, the New York Islanders were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference all the way back on January 14th. Despite all sorts of pre-season predictions that forecasted doom and gloom, the Islanders still managed to be holding onto a playoff spot halfway through the year. Then, if you remember, all of that fell apart. What followed was uninspired play, finger pointing and questions about whether or not Ted Nolan had fallen out of favor on Long Island. The wheels came off and the team finished in a dismal 13th place, tied with St. Louis for the fifth fewest points in the NHL.

What a difference a few summer months make.

The calm and quiet of the summer, save for the draft and July 1st of course, distanced everyone from the poor finish. Fans thoughts turned their focus to acquiring new talent and spending the weekend in the Hamptons. The direction of the team was changed to that of a complete and total youth movement and planning for the future.

This was not the case for former Islanders PR-guru Chris Botta. Botta, as you probably know, has been writing a very candid blog. Today, Botta chimed in on the subject of Ted Nolan and his relationship with Islanders' management. Despite the added distance from the mishaps of the spring, summer hasn't changed anything in the Islanders front office, according to Botta.

"Right now, there isn’t much of a relationship between Ted and Islanders management. Despite Ted’s success as a coach in junior, I don’t believe the Islanders are confident he really buys into the youth movement."
Hooboy. Here we go again.

Botta goes on to point out a lots of missteps that both Nolan and Snow took during the last few months. As anyone paying any attention could see, all of a sudden, it was clear these two men weren't able to play nicely and they let everyone know about it.

"The other tall hurdle is the immense damage from last season. From March 1 on, when the ship was sinking, awkward moments came daily. You didn't have to be the PR director of the team to see the stains.


After each Open House this offseason, I’ve heard from too many Islanders fans who approached the always-accessible Ted with questions about his team, only to have their jaws drop when Ted gave some version of “Depends on what they decide to do,” “It’s up to them” and worse.

They, they, they. Not we. Shame on everyone.

The Islanders were the only team willing to give Ted another shot in the NHL. They were proud of it, and Ted would go out of his way in his first season to show his appreciation. Why did it come to this between Ted Nolan and the Islanders?"
What seemed like a match made in heaven a couple years ago has quickly turned. After being the only team to give Nolan a chance, it looks like he will soon have his bags packed to leave town. Leave it to a former backup netminder turned GM and a coach who finally got a second chance to bicker and turn a good situation into an impossible one. Two guys who, you would hope, appreciate where they are and would work together to succeed. Clearly, there isn't going to be room for both of them in Islander Country if their relationship is as strained as Botta portrays it.

The most important part to this whole situation is the role is plays into the future of the Islanders organization. This season, with a youth movement in full swing, the Islanders aren't going to be a great team, but they're doing a smart thing and investing in their future. They're giving the kids a chance to grow up and show what they can do. But my last point cannot be stressed enough. With a full-on youth movement coming to the Coliseum in October, is this really a situation in which you want to raise your kids in? When parents constantly fight, the kids don't always turn out as well as they should. Something needs to give on Long Island and sooner, rather than later, when the damage is already done.


  1. There are times when I wonder if the Islanders will ever be good again. Every year, the Islanders insist that they're going to rebuild with the young guys, and yet every year they sign 35-year-old grinders to one-year deals. I don't get it. It seems like the Islanders are content to challenge for the eighth seed each year, which is unfortunate becase nobody wants to see that. If they put a good team together, the fans will show up; however, most fans on Long Island are sick of being burned and are staying home. Quite frankly, I can't blame them.

  2. Since when did the NHL put a team on Long Island? That Gary Bettman and his crazy expansionist policies!