Garth Snow Unveils the Islanders’ Past Era: Tavares, Arenas, and Decisions

Garth Snow, former New York Islanders General Manager.

Garth Snow, having enjoyed a substantial tenure as the General Manager of the Islanders, sheds light on the intricate tales woven behind the scenes. This retrospective uncovers the John Tavares departure controversy, the challenges of the Barclays Center, and the Islanders’ arena saga.

Garth Snow’s Candid Era

It’s been half a decade since Garth Snow’s departure from his role as the Islanders’ GM. And now, without any reservations, he openly discusses the team’s ups and downs during his tenure.

  • Duration: Snow served for 12 years as the GM.
  • Major Events: The Islanders faced numerous challenges, from a problematic arena situation to ownership changes.
  • Achievements: Snow played a pivotal role in creating the team’s core, which brought them to the conference finals in successive years, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The John Tavares Saga

One of the most debated issues revolves around John Tavares, who exited the Islanders for the Maple Leafs. This decision remains a sore point for many fans, with Tavares receiving a chorus of boos whenever he revisits Long Island.

2018Tavares leaves the Islanders
2018Snow fired from GM position
2021Tavares still greeted with boos on return

Snow emphasized Tavares’ exit was not solely due to the player’s whims. He pointed out:

“He didn’t do anything wrong.” – Garth Snow

The deeper layers of this narrative are traced back to 2017 when the Islanders had allocated around $10 million for Tavares. However, the negotiations lost momentum, and co-owner Scott Malkin assumed the reins.

Snow shed light on the dynamics:

“That decision by Scott Malkin was that we weren’t gonna trade him under any circumstances. He was totally committed to re-signing him.” – Garth Snow

The GM’s position was crystal clear; Tavares became the scapegoat for a decision that wasn’t under his control. The Islanders could have traded him, but they chose not to.

The iconic Isles' Arena, home of the New York Islanders.

Isles’ Arena Woes

The story of the New York Islanders isn’t just about the games played or the players on the ice. It’s also deeply intertwined with the venues that host these matches. Over the years, the team’s arena situation has fluctuated, presenting both challenges and opportunities. From the logistical nightmares at the Barclays Center to the emotional ties with the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders have navigated a complex web of venue-related issues. Join us as we delve into the intricate tapestry of the Isles’ arena history, a tale as compelling as any playoff match.

Barclays Center’s Introduction

Starting in 2015, the Islanders found their new home at the Barclays Center. Though this decision salvaged the Islanders’ presence on Long Island, it came with its set of tribulations.

The issues included:

  • Commute: The travel from Northwell Health Ice Center, their practice facility, was far from smooth.
  • Viewing Challenges: Some spectators struggled to get a complete view of the ice.
  • Playing Surface: The ice surface quality was questionable.

Snow humorously mentioned:

“Maybe the opposing team was having the same issues trying to get into the rink that we were.”

Despite the hiccups, playing at Barclays was a necessary evil to stave off the very real threat of relocation.

A Glimpse at Ownership Dynamics

A shift in ownership dynamics was palpable when Malkin and Jon Ledecky bought the team’s controlling interest from Charles Wang in 2016. This change steered the team towards UBS Arena, a season before Tavares decided to leave.

Snow’s relationship with Malkin was considerably different from the trust he shared with Wang. Snow’s perceived lack of independence might have influenced their failure to retain Tavares.

The Drafting Successes and Failures

Snow’s drafting strategies while at the helm deserve a spotlight. Although John Tavares was the most high-profile selection, other picks impacted the team profoundly.

Remarkable Draft Picks

YearPickOverall Position
2009Anders Lee152nd
2009Casey Cizikas92nd
2012Adam Pelech65th
2014Ilya Sorokin95th
2014Devon Toews108th

In reflection, Snow’s drafting legacy seems stellar. A notable instance was the strategic trading of Reinhart to the Oilers, which subsequently allowed the Islanders to pick Barzal and move up the ladder to secure Beauvillier. This move is seen as a highlight of Snow’s time as GM.

On the subject of Anders Lee, Snow reminisced about how football was still an option for the player. The primary dilemma revolved around Lee’s sports preference:

“The only question we had is: Is he gonna play football or is he gonna play hockey?” – Garth Snow

Snow’s Current Pursuits and Future

After leaving the league, Snow has passionately coached the PAL Junior Islanders. He remains committed to this role but has also explored potential front-office roles with other teams.

Snow’s reflections offer a deeper understanding of the tumultuous period in the Islanders’ history. From the controversial departure of Tavares to the challenges of home arenas and successful draft picks, Snow’s narrative provides a compelling insight into the intricate fabric of the Islanders’ past era.

Hockey Expert
reviewed by: Jeremy Karamen (Hockey Expert)

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