Garth Snow, Islanders laughing stock after Thomas Vanek deal
New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow gambled hard on the value of Thomas Vanek and lost big time. (QMI Agency)
OK, so how bad do you have to do your hockey job to get chirped by John Spano?
I guess you have to trade a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a player like, say, Matt Moulson for a player like, say, Thomas Vanek and then trade Vanek for a second-round pick and a prospect who may or may not be a top-six forward.
That's what New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow did Wednesday as the clock ticked down to the NHL trade deadline.
Snow shipped Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens for prospect Sebastian Collberg, a speedy kid who was a Habs' second-round draft pick in 2012, and a conditional second-rounder (no pick will be involved if the Canadiens don't make the playoffs).
That got Spano worked up enough to weigh in on Twitter.
Spano, if you will recall, bought the Islanders in the mid-90s and owned them for a few months before it was revealed he didn't have the wherewithal to cover the $165 million purchase price (in one instance, he sent a cheque for $1,700 when $17 million was due, according to a story in Sports Illustrated). He wound up pleading guilty to bank fraud and spent four years in prison.
Spano sort-of owning the Islanders became one of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the NHL.
After the Vanek deal, Spano tweeted to Islanders owner Charles Wang:
Dear C. Wang. It is a privilege to own the NY Islanders. Maybe it is time for u to sell. We have caused this fan base enough heartache.— John Spano (@MrJohnSpano) March 5, 2014
That's like being told by Rob Ford you need to make better life choices.
Snow gambled the market for Vanek would yield more than he paid for him in the Moulson deal. He was wrong.
"It wasn't a very active market... Speaking for today, this was the best deal that was tabled," he said.
The beneficiaries of the weak market for Vanek were the Canadiens, who addressed a whole bunch of needs with his acquisition.
First off, the Eastern Conference is wide open this year so with this deal the Canadiens look like they have taken a big step to close the gap between themselves and the leaders at the top of the standings right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins. The Habs are still in a building phase under GM Marc Bergevin, who was in Chicago to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law, but there is clearly an opportunity recognized here.
Bergevin could make the move without giving up a roster player or mortgaging a lot of the future. If the Habs don't make the playoffs, they don't even have to give up the second-round draft pick (they'd get a fifth-rounder coming back).
This is a one-off deal clearly made with an eye to the competitive balance of the Eastern Conference.
"Once you get in (the playoffs)," said Vanek, "anything can happen."
Also, in making the biggest splash of the day, Bergevin tells his players he's got their backs and there is an opportunity to seize.
"For me, it's the message," said Habs coach Michel Therrien.
Vanek gives them some some size on the wing (6-foot, 217) and that's been one of the biggest complaints about the Habs since they moved to the Bell Centre in 2006, it seems.
The Canadiens are 22nd in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring going into Wednesday's games and 15 of Vanek's 21 goals this season have come at even strength.
Then there's this.
If the Canadiens wind up on a collision course with the hated Bruins, how's this for a stat: in 53 career games against the B's, Vanek has 62 points.