by PuckStopsHere on 01/16/09 at 04:24 AM ET
The last place team in the NHL is the New York Islanders. They sport a 12-32 record (with four losses counted as regulation ties). This puts them five points below the Atlanta Thrashers in last place. They seem to have given up on this season - as is shown by their pathetic 2-18 record (with 2 regulation ties) since the beginning of December. Thats right! The New York Islanders have won only two games since the beginning of December.
Clearly they have slipped into the race for a lottery playoff spot and have little expectation to win this season. How did this team drop this far?
It starts with questionable decisions off ice. The fiasco when GM Neil Smith was replaced before his first Islanders game and replaced by Garth Snow, their backup goalie with no hockey managerial experience, is a very good example of such a decision. More recently, the Islanders fired top coach Ted Nolan late enough into the off season that the top available coaches were already signed.
They have an overly involved owner in Charles Wang, a GM who is subservient to the owner in Garth Snow - who has questionable qualifications and an unproven NHL coach in Scott Gordon. This is not the kind of brain trust that will produce a winner.
On the ice, the player who judging by contract length must be their franchise player - Rick DiPietro limited to five games this season due to injury. Their number one goalie this season has been Joey MacDonald. Joey MacDonald is a journeyman goalie who had 17 career NHL games played before this season began. At age 28, he is not a prospect. He is merely a stop gap. MacDonald is currently out with a groin injury. This leaves the Islanders with Yann Danis and Wade Dubielewicz as their goaltenders. Dubielewicz has been brought back after a KHL stint so unsuccessful that he was bought out of his contract.
On defence, free agent signee Mark Streit is one of the top scoring defencemen in the NHL. His 33 points place him third in scoring among defencemen. He will represent the Islanders in the All Star Game. His sometimes poor play in his own zone keeps him from any consideration for the Norris Trophy. The rest of the Islanders defence is a gr4oup of journeymen and AHLers. Chris Campoli and Andy Sutton do not scare anyone. Their defensive shutdown man Brendan Witt sports a -27 +/- rating in only 32 games played. This is indicative of the fact that the Islanders rarely shutdown top opponents and Witt has seen better days.
On forward, they have only three people who have scored as many as 10 goals so far this year. Bill Guerin leads the way with 14, followed by Trent Hunter at 11 and Richard Park at 10. The only other offensive threat worth mentioning is Doug Weight, who is the team’s best set-up man with 25 assists. Nearly everyone else on their forward roster would be as at home in the AHL as they are in the NHL.
The New York Islanders are a bad team. They are bad because of poor management and overly involved ownership. They appear to have given up on this season, as they have only two wins since the beginning of December. They seem to be content to fall deeper and deeper into last place and wait until they get the chance to try to fix their problems at the draft table.
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