I was checking my email yesterday, and I went to ESPN.com to check on the latest sports news. I saw something that I had to look at twice, because I simply couldn't believe it. The Islanders fired GM Neil Smith, who had just been hired less than 6 weeks ago, and was being replaced by goaltender Garth Snow, who retired to become general manager.
This simply boggles the mind. Owner Charles Wang explained that he and Smith had "philosophical differences," as the Islanders now have a board of directors calling the shots, and not a GM, who is usually the final say on hockey decisions in the NHL. When the word of Smith's firing came down, Pat LaFontaine, who was also brought on board when Smith arrived, resigned as advisor to Wang.
I saw Neil Smith on a sports talk show on Sunday night. It was a good interview and he seemed really optimistic and was glad to be back in charge of an NHL franchise. Less than 48 hours later, he's gone. I'm sure there's a really fascinating backstory to everything that went down yesterday.
The first thing I thought of when I heard all this had happened was "George Steinbrenner." This reminds me too much of the chaos he brought down on the Yankees in the 1970s and 80s. At least the Yankees were winning most of the time back then.
The Islanders were a once-proud franchise back in the 1980s, and were a model for other professional franchises to copy. They are now a bad joke and in a state of total chaos. They have turned the franchise's fortunes over to a man in Snow who has no front office experience whatsoever. Snow is very-well thought of in hockey circles, but that won't make a good GM. We'll see what happens.
It sure wasn't a good day to be an Islander fan yesterday.