Monday, February 11, 2008

Islanders: Bush-League!

1) Of course we're referring to the way the NY Islander organization (Charles Wang) recently treated Pat Lafontaine. According to Brian Burke, he said he asked the Islanders for a credential for LaFontaine, a former Islander and Hall of Famer, so he could sit with him on Tuesday night when the Ducks played at Nassau Coliseum. But for some inexplicable reason the Islanders would not grant him one. Burke then said he reiterated his request as a personal favor, and was again refused. "I'm bewildered by it, but you'd have to ask the Islanders about it," said Burke.

2) Bewildered? That was a very diplomatic way to say that the Isles spit in his face. We don't want to hear one sentence from any Islander fan defending this action. It doesn't matter what (if anything) LaFontaine supposedly did to the Isles (more specificlly Charles Wang) but when an opposition GM asks for a personal favour to permit the admission of someone (out side of a convicted child molester, etc) you do it.

3) The Islanders' side? Through a spokesman, the Islanders said that Lafontaine, would have been welcome to sit in an alumni section, rather than with Burke. WHAT?? BULLSHIT! Is that the best they could come up with? Instead of accepting this inane offer, Burke just got LaFontaine a ticket and had him sit in a suite with Burke and members of the Ducks ownership group.

4) What appears to be transparently clear is that Islanders owner Charles Wang is carrying a bit of a grudge against the former Islander. To review for those who might not have followed the circus that is the NY Islanders organization:

  • LaFontaine once served as a personal consultant to Wang, and a member of a hockey round table of sorts inside the team's front office, that included head coach Ted Nolan, then-GM Neil Smith and fellow Hall of Famer and player personnel director Bryan Trottier.

  • When the shit hit the fan between Wang and Smith, it was Patty who tried to convince Wang to reconsider his rash decision of dismissing Smith after only a scant few weeks on the job.

  • However Wang, the hockey-genius that he is, went ahead and canned Neil anyway, eventually replacing him with then back up goalie, Garth Snow. Probably seeing the writing on the wall, that the franchise was being run by an egomaniacal moron (Steinbrenner without the success), LaFontaine wasted no time tendering his own resignation.

  • Fans were outraged enough to see Smith fired so quickly, but when LaFontaine(someone who had always exuded class his entire playing/retired career and gave some credibility to the team) quit it made the Isles (Wang) look even worse.

5) Again we do NOT want to hear from Isles fans who say that the Isles had the right to treat Pat this way because:

  • Of the way his tenure as a player ended. His playing days on Long Island ended early in the 1991-92 season after he rejected a long-term contract offer and then refused to report to the team. LaFontaine was traded to the Buffalo Sabres soon after the season started.

  • He had the audacity to play for the hated, rival NY Rangers.

6) Sorry neither argument holds water. Wang and the Isles get very little/no slack. When you compare the two (Wang/LaFontaine) its not even close whom we give the benefit of a doubt The Isles would have been far better off simply allowing their former alum (who was invited and took part in Al Arbour night this fall) and a Hall of Famer (one of the best American born players, ever!) to sit where ever he wanted! Bush-League!


Trotz19 said...

Thats a bit harsh to say. I think the islanders have the right to deny special access to people they felt did them wrong. Its not like they said Pat couldn't get into the arena. He was offered a free pass. He wanted preferential treatment. Too bad. Go back to the Rangers you ingreat!


1) Wow Trotz. We'd think someone using the name of Trottier would also understand how a player would go play (or coach) a rival team?
2) Patty didn't ask for preferential treatment. The GM of the Ducks asked for a credential. This is routine for visitors to request. When Burke asked for a "personal favor" any grudge should have been at temporarily disregarded.
3) Just curious, in regard to the Wang-led Islanders, what should Lafontaine be 'grateful' for?

Sauce said...

Oh please… spare us all the sanctimony.

Sure, LaFontaine is well-regarded and has established quite the rep for charitable work in his well-funded retirement. But you speak of the guy like he been blessed anointed as the 2nd coming of the savior of all mankind. Might there be a few things you’ve left out of the story?

Wang went out of his way to extend his hand to the Islander alumni and give them a stake in the rebuilding of the team into a contender. He offered to play LaFontaine quite handsomely in making him a part of the team’s top management. Since I’m sure they had separate contracts, it’s likely safe to assume he agreed to accept Wang’s offer without the contingency of Smith’s concurrent employment. And it’s like also safe to assume LaFontaine discussed with Wang the overall structure of the organization. If he didn’t he is an idiot.

So why the snub, you ask? Well, you conveniently left out the event’s of a few months prior when the Islanders invited LaFontaine back to participate with all the other Islander alums in Al Arbour’s 1500th game. Sure, Pat was quick to accept the invitation, but he spent the game sitting along side the PENGUINS’ top brass in the PENGUINS box, rather than along side Wang, Snow and the rest of the Islander alums.

Also, let’s discuss the guy who was supposedly dissed in this situation. Isn’t he the same Brian Burke who refuses to even speak with Kevin Lowe since Lowe issued the Penner offer sheet last year? You think Burke would’ve granted a personal favor to have one of his former players – let’s say it was Scott Niedermeyer, assuming he didn’t come out of retirement – sit with Lowe in the Oilers’ box during a game in the Ducks’ home arena? LOL.

You guys bit, chewed and swallowed the NY Times vitriol spewed by a Ranger’s writer with nothing better to write about. Take a deep breath next time and try to smell out what REALLY might be behind the story. Charles Wang certainly hasn’t been perfect in his hockey ownership, notwithstanding is recent vindication in the form of the latest round of ultra-long-term contracts. But it’s not fair for you or anyone else to expect the guy to be played for a fool. Even if the player’s name is LaFontaine.

Antzmarching said...

Let's be honest here... The NY Islanders, under the incompetent leadership of Charles "Its a parking lot, let's go" Wang, have become one of the worst organizations in pro sports... This type of egotistical nonsense is absolutely absurd... Pat LaFontaine belongs in the same sentence as the all-time Isalnder greats... Trottier, Bossy, Potvin, Smith, Gillies, and YES, Pat Lafontaine... Charlie actually embarrassed himself with this action, although he may be too dumb to realize it... And, on a side note, I predict that the Islanders will finish 15th in the Eastern Conference - dead last!!! Wang ought to be more concerned with who is ON the ice than who is sitting in the stands, and where... What a dumbass decision...

Antzmarching said...

Sauce, Wang is an idiot! You made some interesting points, but you have to face facts - he is a terrible owner! Where is this organization going? Where is the core group of players they will build around for the future? Each year they scramble to fill in missing parts and pieces - a different roster every season... That's a silly way to run a team, and it never works EVERY time its tried... The Islanders have become a joke... I was there in the 70's and 80's and enjoyed the glory years - the result of a brilliant architect and phenomenal coach... I am disgusted with what has happened in Uniondale and ALL Islander fans should be as well...


1) Re-read the post Sauce, we mentioned Patty's involvement in the Arbour night.
2) We have discussed this issue with many an islander fan and your opinion is expressed by some, but among only a VERY small %. Most were embarrassed by this action
3) Mr. Burke's issue with Mr. Lowe is a red herring with regard to the snub. Brian asked for a "personal favor." It shouldn't have been a difficult thing to acquiesce to
4) Any of the issues you raised should NOT have been part of that decision Its simply was unfortunate and avoidable! If it were an isolated occurrence it might be overlooked, but the isles franchise even before Wang has had a poor record with regard to its alumni.
5) Yet another reason that top flight Free agents may pass up Wang's green (like they did this past summer) for a more stable franchise.
6) Its a sad state affairs and we wish things were different on the Island, but we will call them as we see em!

Stacy Schnall said...

Like who reely cares what the isles do wit some old player. noones gunna care who gets in anyways. Lafuntane was ok but its like 20 years ago. go buy a ticket like the rest a us

Sauce said...

Antz –

The Isles stand 13th in points, but are actually 10th in point per game. That’s just a breath away from your Caps, who play in a division that’s the joke of the NHL right now. And Hockey’s Future rates the Isles 17th overall in strength of prospects. Not bad for a team only one full season removed from the tenure of one of the worst GMs in history and just a few seasons removed from ownership that is either incarcerated or should be incarcerated. Even the most critical of hockey analysts have applauded Wang for many of the moves he’s put in place to strengthen the Isles as an organization. And Garth Snow has moved shrewdly and boldly in trying to maintain a fan base while buying time for the core talent to grow in the minors. The Smyth mistake was widely applauded last February, and it could’ve just as easily proved successful if Smyth hadn’t received a virtually matching offer with a western contender. As I said, LaFontaine is no saint in this situation. And you need to get your facts straight.

Sauce said...

Faux –

You indeed mentioned Arbour night, but you failed to mention LaFontaine’s snub. He showed up Islander management by making his presence in the Pens box quite conspicuous. It was a slap to Wang and the Islanders. Pure and simple.

Brian Burke’s behavior relative to Kevin Lowe is absolutely no red herring. Burke was simply asking a “personal favor”? Did you purposely dodge the question I posed? Well, here it is again… “You think Burke would’ve granted a personal favor to have one of his former players – let’s say it was Scott Niedermeyer, assuming he didn’t come out of retirement – sit with Lowe in the Oilers’ box during a game in the Ducks’ home arena?”

You said that the Islander franchise, EVEN BEFORE WANG, had a bad rep with alumni. What the wide world of sports does that have with WANG? Wang’s record with Islander alumni has been excellent. He has Islander alums at every level of the organization and has bent over backward to dramatically INCREASE that record this year (BTW, Bossy is virtually running the entire marketing effort toward the Long Island business community).

As far as free agents are concerned, TOP FLIGHT free agents are motivated by playing for a contending team in the short-term. They get virtually the same money offers from multiple sources, so they can choose the most likely to contend in the near term. The real test was whether or not Wang was able to attract the 2nd tier FAs. The names Guerin, Comrie, Vasicek and Fedatenko indicate a decent amount of success in that arena. And listening to the many remarks from each during this season, it’s also obvious that they’re each happy with the choice they made.

You “call em as you see em”, but it look like you’re seein ‘em wrong!


1) Stacy: been a LONG time since we've seen ya on here! Anyway, it IS important to maintain good relations with your alumni. It shows a franchises commitment to the fans/community.
2) First class run teams usually have a strong alumni outreach, and not only when they're being paid to show up or being used to increase the fan turnout at some games.


1) Sauce: Yes, we believe Burke wouldn't make issue with that request. It would put his franchise in a bad light and appear petty.
2) The only alum that we see with the team are those getting a pay cheque from Wang. Bossy (sadly) was filling vending machines so it might be said he was motivated to take this position.
3) However, this is more about yet another low class/inane/bizzarro move by the organization. They don't need help to look bad, but seem very motivated to continually shoot themselves in the foot with regard to PR!


1) We also want to reinerate to our islander fan readers we did NOT enjoy writing this piece. We hate to see your franchsie placed in its current(long standing) predicament. However, we won't now/ever shy away from expressing our opinions

Kramer said...

This falls under the heading of 'what were they thinking'!
We were happy to get Lafontaine and sorry we lost him here in Buffalo. He was a fan favorite up here. I can't see Tom Golisano doing to him what Wang did. I think even Mike Peca would be allowed in to sit in HSBC without comment

Sauce said...

"However, we won't now/ever shy away from expressing our opinions" -Faux

Sure. Even if the facts get in the way of your opinion.

FYI, Bossy was the Quebec sales director for Humpty Dumpty, a snack-food manufacturer based in eastern Canada. He started out doing promotional work for the company in the late 1990s, after a three-year stint on CKOI, a French-language radio station in Montreal. He's also done some hockey and sports commentary and he was briefly in the restaurant business.

"The only alum that we see with the team are those getting a pay cheque" -Faux

Duh! Can you show me a list of each team's former players who currently work for those teams... for FREE???

"...we believe Burke wouldn't make issue with that request. It would put his franchise in a bad light and appear petty."

Yeah, I'm sure Burke is very concerned with appearing petty. That's why he refuses to speak with his former friend Lowe since the offer sheet. That's right, I forgot. He said the reason is because Lowe didn't make a courtesy phone call to him first. LOL!!!

Sauce said...

Kramer -

You mentioned how Golisano might feel about this, but what about all the other former Sabres players now waorking for the team either in upper management, scouting or marketing?

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?

Trotz19 said...

My point was that the Islanders owe Lafontaine nothing. He got what he deserved.

Kramer said...

What do those team employees have to do with anything? I guess they would like to see their former colleagues treated well?

Antzmarching said...

Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, Semin - you actually want to compare those guys to the great young talent the Islanders have? C'mon, its a laughable and pointless exercise... All I am asking is for someone to point out ANY youth in the Isles organization that you are excited about... And, I reiterate, the Islanders WILL finish 15th in the Conference...


1) Sauce: Sure some teams pay former players for PR/community outreach, but it seems from reading media reports and e-mails from your fellow Isles fans that the relationships between former players and management has been strained for years
2) Trotz: We didn't say the isles "owed" Pat anything. At least no more than respect as a Hall of fame player who once donned the orange and blue. certainly they should have had no beef(that we are aware of) with Burke! ( We bet they do now! LOL)
3) Kramer: Good point!
4) Antz: Not sure who was trying to compare the isles to the caps, but it doesn't hurt a franchise to have a player of Ovechkin's caliber. If not for him we think the Caps would not be doing any better than the Isles(probably much worse!) Perhaps the hockey-Gods will smile down on LI and give them the top spot in the draft. We agree that on paper at least their farm/prospect pool is thinner than many teams

Sauce said...

Antz - Your team scored on Ovechkin because they sucked and had a great draft pick. Here's a list of young players all Isles fans are excited about, since you asked...


Kramer - Sorry. My question wasn't clear enough. Please NAME any former Sabre players who have current responsibilities in the Sabre organization. Tell me please what there official titles are. Then we can compare how well each club takes care of its own.

Faux - You keep alluding to the strain between Isles alums and management. You don't seem to get the point that the problem is with FORMER management. Wangs relationship with alums is beyond reproach. If not, do you really think Trottier would be anywhere near the team right now? There was no one who had more of a beef than he. He's now Director of Player Operations. You need to look beyond the eyeglasses tainted by the garbage from the Isles former (and incarcerated) management. It's unfair to color Wang the same way. Look beyond whatever old "media reports" and "emails" you've seen. The facts are in plain sight for everyone to see.

And BTW, although Burke is of course not a "petty" individual, he sure was pissed off when Lowe plucked Penner from the Ducks lineup. So pissed he's not even talking to his former friend. Recall that Lowe would've never been able to issue that offer sheet without an '07 1st round draft pick. If I recall correctly, Lowe didn't have one of those available until Snow accomadated him with one in the Smyth deal. And isn't it a little weird that Burke was so hell bent on having LaFontaine sit with him for a game at the NVMC? What's up with that? LOL.

Antzmarching said...

Ya know what, Sauce, I am not going to keep going back and forth with you... Your list is not impressive and a 15th place finish is a definite - soon Mr. Wang's team will "suck" like the Caps and maybe will get an Ovechkin one day...

The truth of it is, I AM an Islander fan (lived in Suffolk Co. for 29 years), but unlike you, I am not satisfied with the way the organization has moved backwards... Are you still willing to excuse and defend the Yashin for Chara and Spezza deal? There is NOTHING I would like more than have the Isles back to their winning ways, beating the Rag$ and winning playoff rounds... Obviously, we want the same outcome, but have vastly different ideas how the Isles have become so bad and how it can be turned around... I just can't believe how you can stand by ol' Charlie and continue to be satisfied with the direction of the team... I guess you and the other 7,000 people that show up each night don't have much say... I remember the days of 15,000+ - perhaps you do not...

The game on the 20th should be fun, huh?

Antzmarching said...

Faux, I have been the harshest critic of the Caps organization - in particular GMGM... But, let's face it, this team is MUCH more exciting now under Boudreau... At least I can enjoy watching the games again... Its been unwatchable since the departure of Jagr, Gonchar, Bondra, etc... Cap fans have the absolute pleasure of watching Alex Ovechkin for 23 minutes a game - its awesome! Do Islander fans really get jazzed up when Satan or Comrie comes racing up the ice? They play bad and boring hockey - lowest scoring team in the league with NO outstanding players, with the exception of the goalie... Once again, while I appreciate Sauce's loyalty, I think its foolish to excuse the incompetence of the decision makers in the organization...

Sauce said...

Antz - That's fine. And I appreciate your Islander "pedigree". I was already a college graduate living in NYC when Potvin hoisted the 1st cup in 1980.

But I think what you and others who are quick to burn Wang's image in effigy really need to do is understand that most of the things done by the Islander organization that you're most disgusted with occurred during ownership tenures that preceded Wang. Even the Yashin trade and contract, while accomplished under Wang, was really the handywork of Wang's inherited GM, Milbury. It should not go unnoticed that Wang took a big hit to the wallet to buyout that contract and mitigate the damage of that deal. And every other move, especially since Milbury's departure - marketing, player development, alumni relations - has displayed a renewed willingness to put a good product on the ice for the fans. Many are questoning the wisdom of last year's deadline deal for Smyth, but at the very least it showed a real committment toward that goal. This year's team was hastily assembled from 2nd tier FAs, but the flexibility in the salary structure realtive to the cap gives Snow a great deal of room to balance the interests of the fans today (by putting a product on the ice that can at least compete) against the need to develop a stable of youth that will provide for the Islanders' future. Snow so far seems to be walking that line quite well so far. Playoffs last year. Competing for the same this year. And all experts agree that the Islander prospect pool, which had been largely ignored and squandered under prior ownership, is looking brighter by the year. Overchkin is a generational type player. Not many come along and the Caps are fortunate to have landed him. It's unfair to compare other teams' prospects to that type of player. The Islanders will do just fine - both this year and in the years to come.

Antzmarching said...

Sauce, its been fun discourse and debate... But, we mustn't get sidetracked - the real enemy resides in MSG... See you in the next Faux post...

Kramer said...

I was asked by sauce- Please NAME any former Sabre players who have current responsibilities in the Sabre organization. Tell me please what there official titles are. Then we can compare how well each club takes care of its own.

Head Coach Lindy Ruff
Assistant Coach James Patrick
Pro Scout Jon Christiano
Local TV Rob Ray
Local TV Mike Robitaille
Director of Alumni Relations Larry Playfair
Corporate/Community Relations Liason Gilbert Perreault

Are 7 people a good amount compared with other teams?
If I had to guess your team has a lot more people on the team payroll?
I think other than Patrick everyone else has been with us for at least 5 years.

Sauce said...

Former players in the Islander organization...

Garth Snow – GM
Bryan Trottier – Director of Player Development
Mike Dunham - Goaltending Coach
Ken Morrow - Director of Pro Scouting
Steve Webb - Assistant Player Development
Anders Kallur – Pro Scout
Mike Bossy - Executive Director, Business Sales and Marketing

I've left off Bob Nystrom, who runs alumni relations. That position would go to a former player by default. I've also left out Butch Goring, who once coached the team and now works on the FSN TV broadcast. Broadcasters aren't on the team payroll and are selected by the network, not the team. Removing those same positions from the Sabres list brings Kramer's list down to four former players. The Islanders employ 7 former players.

Obviously, the Sabres have a top flight organization. So this certainly adds to the overwhelming evidence that the current Islander ownership has been unfairly criticized on the topic of alumni outreach.


1) Wow, quite a bit of back and forth among our readers here. Thanks to both Kramer and Sauce for offering their input on things
2) As to the Antz/Sauce discussion. Its a difficult thing to compare one organizations top prospects to anothers.
3) In their latest oraganizational prospect depth chart Hockey' January 3rd of this year) had the Isles at 17th and Capitals at 6th St.Louis and Chicago were 1 and 2 respectively

Sauce said...

Faux - Thanks for restating what I had pointed out in my 2nd posting of this thread...

"Hockey’s Future rates the Isles 17th overall in strength of prospects. Not bad for a team only one full season removed from the tenure of one of the worst GMs in history and just a few seasons removed from ownership that is either incarcerated or should be incarcerated. Even the most critical of hockey analysts have applauded Wang for many of the moves he’s put in place to strengthen the Isles as an organization."

The Scooter said...

Stacy is pretty hot!


1) Sauce you're happy with being 17th of 30 teams with respect to prospects? Thats nothing to be proud of. Milbury's issue was never drafting, but what he did with his assets(bad trades)

Stacy Schnall said...

Thanks scooter! sorry but im takin
unlees ya got a lot a muney? hehehehehe

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