Islanders GM Garth Snow reiterates faith in team
Has no plans to fire coach Jack Capuano, doesn't rule out trade to add offenseby Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders enter their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, MSG+, ROOT, NHL.TV) in last place in the Eastern Conference, but hours before the opening faceoff, general manager Garth Snow reiterated his faith in coach Jack Capuano.
"Jack, the coaching staff, our players, I have a lot of confidence in everyone in that room," Snow said during an impromptu press conference at the Islanders' practice facility. "The great part about when you face adversity, [you see] who rises to the top. Although it doesn't always feel easy for our fans, when you go through adversity, it's a great challenge and I always look forward to see who rises to that challenge, and it doesn't matter whether it's a player, coaches, staff … we're all in this together and I've got a lot of belief in everyone in that room."
The Islanders (5-8-3) have scored 40 goals in 16 games, forcing Capuano to constantly shuffle his lines with the hope of finding some offense. New York could receive a boost via trade, which Snow did not rule out.
"Like every other team, we're always looking to improve our team," Snow said. "All avenues, whether it's the draft, whether it's free agency, whether it's trades, waivers, we've gone every route to build this team. Like I said, I believe in the guys that we have in that room right now. It'll never prevent us from always looking to try to improve our club, but those guys in there are gonna rise to the top, and I have a lot of belief in them.
"I've had the luxury to work with [co-owners] Jon Ledecky [and] Scott Malkin, and I've had their support," Snow said. "For me, I've been very fortunate to be a manager and to have had the support from ownership that I've had for the last 10 years. I know that doesn't always happen. I'm grateful and I'm appreciative about the support that I get from them."
Ledecky and Malkin showed their support on July 1, when the Islanders signed left wing Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract. Ladd started the season on the top line with John Tavares but failed to produce and has since been shuffled around. He enters the game Friday with two goals and one assist in 16 games.
"Andrew brings a lot of different things to our club," Snow said. "[He's] a very high-character guy. We knew that when we signed him. A lot of people don't know last year, I don't think he had many goals around Christmas and then he turned it on. But Andrew Ladd isn't defined as a hockey player by scoring goals; it's a lot of different things he does, whether it's [being tough] to play against, his leadership … he's a winner. Andrew's a big part of our club. It's the reason why we signed him, because of all those positive attributes that he brings to the club."
Prior to the start of the regular season, Snow opted to keep three goaltenders on the 23-man roster rather than right wing PA Parenteau, who had signed a one-year contract on July 2. Parenteau, who had 120 points playing alongside Tavares from 2010-12, was claimed off waivers by the New Jersey Devils and has five goals and two assists in 16 games. Tavares is the only player on the Islanders roster with five goals.
Meanwhile, No. 3 goalie Jean-Francois Berube has yet to play a game this season. Jaroslav Halak will make his seventh straight start Friday, with Thomas Greiss as his backup.
"I wouldn't want to be in that situation," Snow, a former goaltender, said of Berube. "It stinks. I think he's handling it like a professional. You rewind the last year so start the season [against] Chicago home-and-home, [Halak] was injured. We picked up J-F off waivers, and thank goodness we did. There were times during the season where we had three goalies on our roster, [but] two were healthy. We've got three good goalies. It's one of the strengths of our organization; we've got good goaltending in Bridgeport, we have a couple of great goaltenders in the pipeline that are playing in other places. It's a strength of our organization. I get [the frustration], but it's a 23-man roster. We'll carry as many goalies as we see fit.
"And by the way, the CBA says a player is an unrestricted free agent at a certain time. It is what it is."
For now, Snow's main concern is getting the Islanders back on track. The game Friday is the first of 66 remaining, and the Islanders are seven points in back of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.
"I understand the frustration of our fans," Snow said. "It's the same passionate fan base that blew the roof off the Coliseum in the Pittsburgh series [in 2013], the Washington series (in 2015), the last year of the Coliseum, and they blew the roof off the Barclays Center last year. We were fortunate enough to get to the second round.
"It's a passionate fan base; we're in New York. Of course, we're going to hear it when we do well and we're going to hear it when we don't do so well. It's what we signed up for. I can appreciate the passion. Quite frankly, it's one of the best parts of being a general manager of a New York-based team, is you've got the most passionate fan base in the world."