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PASabreFan

Look to the Islanders, Elaine, look to the Islanders

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I always thought the Sabres and Islanders should have been big rivals in this century, but it never materialized. The franchises were too similar. Expansion teams that once had varying degrees of glory days playing in New York State outposts, the Isles in the shadow of Manhattan and the Sabres in the shadow of Toronto; crummy ownership (Isles owner once suggested that the team put a sumo wrestler in goal, and he wasn't really kidding; one of ours was a crook, another literally doesn't know which end of a hockey stick to hold and has a record of success to prove it); iconic designs replaced by laughable new logos; drab arenas (ours was nicer at first, but quickly caught up to the old Coliseum); loyal, fanatic fanbases who stupidly kept the faith; long stretches of futility on the ice with only spots of success; financial struggles (at one point, IIRC, Isles players had to buy their own sticks); in the final analysis, just teams NHL players never wanted to end up playing for, and it showed in those NHLPA polls.

Except... the Islanders eventually left us in the dust, somewhere over by Albany. Their recovery started in 2013, when they made the playoffs after a five-year drought, then in 2016 they won a playoff series for the first time in 23 years. And now their fans must mock our franchise, like we did theirs. How did they leave us to sheepishly ask Florida to the prom? I don't have an exact answer, but they somehow ended up with Lou and Barry at the helm and with a new arena on the way. Oh yeah, they lost their elite center and came out the other side smelling like Andy Dufresne. (Also, unfortunately, the sumo owner, Charles Wang, passed away.) And today they're on their way to a 100-point season for the fourth time in six years. They swept the Pens in the first round last year and have what we yearn for: relevance and perennial contender status.

How do we possibly catch up to our hockey cousins? By doing what they did? But... what did they do to break so sharply from their woeful past?

Edited by PASabreFan
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They didn’t trade their elite center. He left in free agency. Your passive implication is misguided.

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16 minutes ago, 3putt said:

They didn’t trade their elite center. He left in free agency. Your passive implication is misguided.

Corrected. Thanks. No implication. I don't want to trade Jack. Or maybe you meant ROR. Actually not sure what you meant.

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I assumed you were referencing Jack, though I see a parallel to ROR.  The difference is that ROR was not the face, while still being an elite player.  Tavares and Jack are more similarly positioned.  If I was incorrect, my apologies.

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Trotz is one of only a very select number of coaches who have an immediate impact on a team.  That was the single best move the Islanders could have made.

 

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I agree that Trotz was a huge addition for the Isles, but the most important move they made IMHO — and also the biggest difference between them and the Sabres — was bringing in Sweet Lou as GM.  The new owner saw an experienced, successful GM become available, grabbed him up and everything flowed from there.  Meanwhile, TP, good intentions notwithstanding, hired 2 inexperienced guys who crapped the bed.  

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All good thoughts. But the Isles started to climb out of the depths a few years ago. Now — is it possible the Sabres have started that process themselves, we just don't realize it yet?

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41 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

All good thoughts. But the Isles started to climb out of the depths a few years ago. Now — is it possible the Sabres have started that process themselves, we just don't realize it yet?

Probably not, and all it takes is to look at the way the Islanders spend their money.

https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/islanders

They've spent heavily, but not wildly, on good forward depth. They've limited spending on defense and goaltending. This is exactly what I advocated for in the Dahlin trade thread. 

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You should watch an islanders game. I'd rather not be them. 

It's a boring style

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1 hour ago, darksabre said:

Probably not, and all it takes is to look at the way the Islanders spend their money.

https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/islanders

They've spent heavily, but not wildly, on good forward depth. They've limited spending on defense and goaltending. This is exactly what I advocated for in the Dahlin trade thread. 

Did they trade a star D to avoid paying them?  I feel like if they had a good player that they wanted to keep, they would probably pay them what they were worth.

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45 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

You should watch an islanders game. I'd rather not be them. 

It's a boring style

Yeah super boring watching winning hockey.  Sucks to be them.

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21 minutes ago, Weave said:

Yeah super boring watching winning hockey.  Sucks to be them.

We need to win pretty or not win at all.  😬

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5 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

I always thought the Sabres and Islanders should have been big rivals in this century, but it never materialized. The franchises were too similar. Expansion teams that once had varying degrees of glory days playing in New York State outposts, the Isles in the shadow of Manhattan and the Sabres in the shadow of Toronto; crummy ownership (Isles owner once suggested that the team put a sumo wrestler in goal, and he wasn't really kidding; one of ours was a crook, another literally doesn't know which end of a hockey stick to hold and has a record of success to prove it); iconic designs replaced by laughable new logos; drab arenas (ours was nicer at first, but quickly caught up to the old Coliseum); loyal, fanatic fanbases who stupidly kept the faith; long stretches of futility on the ice with only spots of success; financial struggles (at one point, IIRC, Isles players had to buy their own sticks); in the final analysis, just teams NHL players never wanted to end up playing for, and it showed in those NHLPA polls.

Except... the Islanders eventually left us in the dust, somewhere over by Albany. Their recovery started in 2013, when they made the playoffs after a five-year drought, then in 2016 they won a playoff series for the first time in 23 years. And now their fans must mock our franchise, like we did theirs. How did they leave us to sheepishly ask Florida to the prom? I don't have an exact answer, but they somehow ended up with Lou and Barry at the helm and with a new arena on the way. Oh yeah, they lost their elite center and came out the other side smelling like Andy Dufresne. (Also, unfortunately, the sumo owner, Charles Wang, passed away.) And today they're on their way to a 100-point season for the fourth time in six years. They swept the Pens in the first round last year and have what we yearn for: relevance and perennial contender status.

How do we possibly catch up to our hockey cousins? By doing what they did? But... what did they do to break so sharply from their woeful past?

I never, ever, considered them cousins.  I considered them a team that past us in talent in the late 70’s, and they won the Cups that I thought we would we winning after the heartbreak of losing the Cup to Philly.  
 

That said, I hate the Islanders, their ugly uni’s, and their fans.  

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They aren't exciting to watch and wouldn't be my first choice for a model to work towards. If we tried it, we'd lose a lot of 2-1 games. Oh wait, wasn't that Bylsma hockey? 

Anyway, what they do do well is play as team. Structured and disciplined and that comes from the coach and all the players buying in and giving effort.

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

You should watch an islanders game. I'd rather not be them. 

It's a boring style

The Sabres are boring too.

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This talk about the Islanders and their style of play brings a question to my mind.

Might it be a wise NHL strategy to develop a team that is defense first focused?  For no other reason that the fact that the salaries that players can get are often based largely on their point production.  In this way, a team can have more good players who fit their system, and keep the team together for longer under the cap, because good defense first players are generally paid less than good offense first players.

This is essentially what the Isles are doing.  Doesn’t make for the most exciting hockey but it’s an economical approach.

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6 hours ago, nfreeman said:

I agree that Trotz was a huge addition for the Isles, but the most important move they made IMHO — and also the biggest difference between them and the Sabres — was bringing in Sweet Lou as GM.  The new owner saw an experienced, successful GM become available, grabbed him up and everything flowed from there.  Meanwhile, TP, good intentions notwithstanding, hired 2 inexperienced guys who crapped the bed.  

A little too much credit to Lou frankly.

Look at that roster.  The only players on it that were acquired AFTER Lou took over are:

Kuhnhackle
Varlamov
Komarov
Martin (who had already been there prior)

The strength of that team existed before Lou ever stepped foot in the door.  Lou might prove valuable, but I don't see how you give him credit here more than bringing in Trotz.  But the coach makes the players better and Trotz managed to do that while losing the best player on the team (at the time) in Tavares.  The Islanders went from giving up the most goals in the NHL to giving up the least.  The GM doesn't do that and he didn't even bring in players to make that happen.  Trotz made it happen.

Sure, it takes a GM to get a coach.  A coach also has to want to sign in the city.  Hell, the GM has to want to sign in the city.

 

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7 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

You should watch an islanders game. I'd rather not be them. 

It's a boring style

I almost spit out my beer reading this.

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3 hours ago, LTS said:

A little too much credit to Lou frankly.

Look at that roster.  The only players on it that were acquired AFTER Lou took over are:

Kuhnhackle
Varlamov
Komarov
Martin (who had already been there prior)

The strength of that team existed before Lou ever stepped foot in the door.  Lou might prove valuable, but I don't see how you give him credit here more than bringing in Trotz.  But the coach makes the players better and Trotz managed to do that while losing the best player on the team (at the time) in Tavares.  The Islanders went from giving up the most goals in the NHL to giving up the least.  The GM doesn't do that and he didn't even bring in players to make that happen.  Trotz made it happen.

Sure, it takes a GM to get a coach.  A coach also has to want to sign in the city.  Hell, the GM has to want to sign in the city.

 

It's not at all unreasonable to give Trotz more credit than Lou.  TBH I had forgotten that Lou was hired only a couple of months before Trotz.  Of course, Lou did act decisively when Trotz became available, and convince Trotz to join the Isles.

BTW, the Isles got those 2 guys in the summer of 2018, i.e. after Botteril and Housley's 1st year ended up in an unanticipated DFL finish.  Just sayin...

 

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On 2/1/2020 at 11:43 PM, nfreeman said:

It's not at all unreasonable to give Trotz more credit than Lou.  TBH I had forgotten that Lou was hired only a couple of months before Trotz.  Of course, Lou did act decisively when Trotz became available, and convince Trotz to join the Isles.

BTW, the Isles got those 2 guys in the summer of 2018, i.e. after Botteril and Housley's 1st year ended up in an unanticipated DFL finish.  Just sayin...

 

Fair, but as I said.. a guy has to want to sign here.  Why would Lou have signed here?  The team wasn't on the verge of winning, the Islanders were.  Why would Trotz sign here? The team did not have the right players, the Islanders did.

Most importantly, and I don't think this should ever be underestimated.  This team, in its first years under Pegula showed incredibly instability.  Established hockey guys aren't signing up to come in and work under an owner trying to figure his stuff out.  I have no doubt that LaFontaine incident really stung the organization.

 

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On 2/1/2020 at 12:35 PM, LTS said:

Trotz is one of only a very select number of coaches who have an immediate impact on a team.  That was the single best move the Islanders could have made.

 

Laviolette right now.  I know it's about the ninetieth time I've mentioned it.

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On 2/1/2020 at 3:35 PM, Weave said:

Yeah super boring watching winning hockey.  Sucks to be them.

What have they won? I see 2 years of DNQ and then last year they got swept in round 2. The team they got swept by is the team we should be looking to build towards, Carolina. 

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