GARTH RESPONDS: PART I
Islanders general manager Garth Snow has already received more than 1,000 emails in response to his Open Letter to Islanders Fans on Thursday.
"The response has been amazing," Snow said. "The support for me, but more importantly the Islanders franchise, has been overwhelming. I'm reading every single email because I'm learning a lot about our fans and how they feel about our team."
Here's the first sample of emails. Where appropriate, the GM follows up with a response.
Hey Garth. Thank you for the e-mail. I am a season ticket holder and have been my whole life (I am only 24). However my tickets were passed down to me from my father and I have been a big fan as long as I can remember. I know the game of hockey well and although this may not be an ideal situation to most fans I just wanted to welcome you and say that I have confidence in you as well as the new system. You are right that Charles saved us and he deserves our support, so MAKE ME PROUD!! See you October 5th!
Joseph V. Ra
The Isles seem to be losing scouts left and right. One of the rumors going around is that Neil Smith resigned over Charles Wang wanting to cut back on the number of scouts. Are these two related? And if so, how can we as Islander fans expect the team to have a solid future with a smaller scouting crew?
GARTH RESPONDS: Thank you for the opportunity to explain our position on our scouting staff, Don. I want to be clear that we are not decreasing our staff. As there always is in the summer, there is turnover on the staff. The good men we lost are being replaced.
Here is where there will be a significant change: under the new CBA, the majority of any team's payroll will be taken up by players acquired in trades or via free agency. With that in mind, it only makes sense to increase our staff at the professional scouting level. That's exactly what we are doing.
Of course, the Entry Draft will continue to play a central role as we build a Stanley Cup championship team. This will never change. But now more than ever, it makes sense to have more eyes on the pros.
Garth: Thank you for the many exciting years you gave us as a player and we look forward to you continuing that excitement from the front office. I'm looking forward to your management. I have no doubt that you will pour your heart into the GM position as you did every time you stepped into the crease as a player for a game. One thing I would like to see you do is keep our youth. For once the Islanders have a farm system we can be proud of and to see that youth develop into NHL players was awesome. I know that they will make even more of an impact this season.
GARTH RESPONDS: I agree wholeheartedly. As I mentioned in the letter, building a team with several home-grown players in the nucleus is part of the plan. With the new CBA and early free agency, you will need a balance of youth and vets, but you're right to be proud of the group of prospects the Islanders are fortunate to be stocked with.
As a publicist and lifelong Islander fan, I want you to know you NAILED iton that open letter to the fans. To us. Good job. That's what I needed to hear. I wish you nothing but success. Go get Ëœem! Best regards.
Congratulations Garth! I just received your "open letter" and would like to extend my best wishes to you. My advice to you is to just trust yourself to make the right decisions. Leave some room in the cap for when we make the playoff push.
GARTH RESPONDS: That's excellent advice all around, Pete. I appreciate it very much. We will definitely have some flexibility in the cap.
No question....I'll let the on-ice product do the talking. I just wanted to give you my support as an Islander fan from Jersey. We're not all from the Island, but we love the team just the same. Good luck Garth on being named GM, and if you are as passionate a GM as you were a player, I (as well as the other fans) won't need to be worried. See you in September....let's go Islanders!!!
I'm a Life-Long Islander fan and I'm extremely excited about what is happening with this team. It's very important to bring up the young rookies and developing players, but also to mix in a good core group of veterans (which you are assembling very nicely). My question is, who will backup DP? I know you re-signed Dubie, but what about going after a Manny Legace for the back-up role? Is he affordable at this point, is he even on the radar? I look forward to hearing back from you and to see other moves down the road.
GARTH RESPONDS: A player of Manny's credentials obviously has to be on the radar of any team with an opening in goal. No matter what, we'll have good support for Rick.
I'm not sure if you'll ever get to read this yourself, but I wanted to congratulate you on your new position as GM. I'm a die-hard (never-die?), lifelong Islanders fan, and always will be. I'm also a big fan of yours, mainly because you've always been a team player -and a fierce competitor. It doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete, or corporate guy, or a blue collar worker - those qualities ultimately lead to success, no matter what you do. We, as fans, could not ask for a better person to lead our team.
I'll also note that I have complete confidence and nothing but admiration for Charles Wang. Early in my career, I had the pleasure of working for Charles and learned a great deal from him. He is a person you can trust, and he is a man that does not lose.
Together, with the rest of the new coaching staff, and the great talent on the ice, the Islanders are poised to make a mark this year. It's very easy to be frustrated - from both a fan AND a player point of view. For me, it's very easy to be hopeful and optimistic. All we need is for it all to gel, and the product on the ice will rank amongst the top in the NHL, if not THE top. A mighty task for you, but with your experience and your competitiveness, I think we're on to something. Good things are in our future.
I congratulate you and look forward to being part of your success. As a fan, I'll do my job to continue to root and root hard. I've never given up. Should you need anything from a fan's perspective, never hesitate to contact me.
Again, congratulations and best of luck.
Congratulations...As a season ticket holder I was both shocked and happy to hear of the events last week. Knowing that you would be taking over as the GM actually made the news better, knowing that you were a faithful member of the franchise. Looking forward to an exciting season with Coach Nolan, the new additions and the prospects in the system.
LETS GO ISLANDERS!!!
Section 336 Row G Seats 12 & 13
Mr. Snow (Somehow, Garth just doesn't seem appropriate anymore),
As an Islander fan who now lives out of state (Pittsburgh to be specific), I want to thank you for reaching out to the fans. I have never seen this before from a professional sports team. Your letter has given me a reason to sign up for the NHL package. After reading your vision of what the team will look like this year, I don't want to miss a single game! Let's Go Islanders!!!!
Dear Mr. Snow,
I would like to start by tell you how much I love to watch you play and have you on our team. As a long time islander fan that one really cares about hockey season, i can agree with you when you talk about Mr. Wang.
He has devoted his time and money to restore this dying franchise in a time where upper management was hard to come by. If it were not for him I might have considered killing myself. Just kidding. But seriously he has done so much for us and on behalf of Islander fans everywhere we appreciate Mr. Wang.
Watching the recent additions to the team has made it is pretty clear what direction you guys were heading toward. My question to you and management is when are you guys gonna sign Ricky to a long term deal? Considering he is our David Wright, our Jeter, and you know Blake is a fan favorite to.
Thanks for your time and good luck in the upcoming years, I know it won't be easy, but we all think you can do it!
GARTH RESPONDS: Rick is going to be an Islander for a long time.
Welcome. Thanks for sticking around.
Thank you also for the letter. I was pleased to see that you will not tolerate anyone speaking badly about your team/our team. I myself am quite tired of it, also. I am especially tired of hearing negative comments from people who claim to be Islanders fans. Their negativity is nauseating at times, isn't it? We get enough of that from Ranger fans.
I would love to reach out to every supposed Islander fan who has had a negative, disparaging comment recently and tell them if they hate the Islander organization so much, why don't they just become Ranger fans. That way it will feel twice as good when we kick their butts.
Setting that aside, I wish you luck and I am happy you are here. I am looking forward to October, as I do every year. You can count on us to be loyal and positive. My husband and I never miss a game; on TV, that is.
And with that segue, here's two suggestions (since you asked):
We could really use some more affordable ticket prices. With the price of gas the way it is, we'll be lucky to come and see just one game this season. The Family Packs are great, but they are only offered for certain games. What about the working people, who can't get to the weekday games? How about some weekend deals?
And the events at IceWorks are great. I would love to know the times and dates of practices/events more often. It's great to feel like you are part of a team, especially when it's hard to afford to come to the games.
Thanks for your time.
I must admit I'm a bit skeptical with someone with no Front Office experience, but I'll keep an open mind and judge you on the results of the team. Best of luck.
Question: What is your philosophy on building a winning franchise? Bill Torrey believed in building from the draft and within the organization, sprinkling in veterans and trades where necessary to fill a hole, but never trading the future. Other GMs seem to rely more on free agency and trade. Other GMs seem to flip-flop depending on the latest result. How would you describe your philosophy and plan?
Best Wishes on this season and hopefully more successful ones to come,
Deer Park, NY
GARTH RESPONDS: As I wrote earlier, the philosophy is going to have to be a hybrid of building from within and then adding veterans where you need them. The game and the business are a lot different than 30 years ago. You have to adapt to the times. That said, the ultimate philosophy will be to have the best conditioned and hardest-working team in the NHL. That will never change.
Dear Mr. Snow,
Your letter today helped me to make up my mind. Ever since moving to the New York area originally in 1984 I have followed all 3 of the area's NHL teams. Now it is down to just one, the Islanders!!! I'm very certain it took a lot for you to write that letter. As a former member of the media and a diehard hockey fan I can only imagine what you've seen and heard since taking your current position with the franchise. Your actions today with this letter have impressed me and I'm proud to call myself an Islanders fan today. I only hope that others will do the same as I have. Good luck in your new position, and GO ISLANDERS!!!
GARTH RESPONDS: Congratulations, Kevin. By official declaring yourself an Islander fan, you have joined a group of the best fans of any sport in the New York area.
As a life long Islander fan of almost 30 years I am excited as you about the team. I really appreciated your message. You could tell it was not a "form letter" and that it really came from the heart. I trust that you will lead the team in the right direction. I think the media has spun alot of the changes as negative. I on the other hand (and I think all true Islander fans will agree) look at the glass half full. Charles Wang admitted he made a mistake and fixed it right away. I think the draft was great and the young guys from last year will only get better. My only word of advice is let the young guys play. I think the fans will appreciate it and the experience will make them better for it. This is an exciting time to be an Islander fan. All the team needs to do is come out every night and play hard and give the extra effort. The wins will come.
The one thing that this team needs that the great Stanley Cup teams had in the early 80's is the fear of losing. Those championship teams were afraid to lose. That is what this team needs. If we lose two in a row or we are down three goals in the last period we as a team need to dig deep and put in an even greater effort. A losing attitude is for losers. A hard working and never give in attitude is for winners. Let's bring back "Fort Neverlose" to the Nassau Coliseum again.
Good luck. I know you will do a great job. Don't worry about the media. The true diehards understand the plan.
Keep in touch with us!!!
Peter H. Figur
GARTH RESPONDS: Thank you, Peter, and to all of the fans that have written so far. I'll try to take care of a second batch of responses by the end of the week.