For the past several days I've been thinking about how little I envy the position in which Scott Gordon currently finds himself. He is now in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, during which his team has only managed to accumulate one thanks-for-playing point. His roster keeps getting turned over like the contents of a cement mixer. Categorize the players any way you wish, and they've been hurt—goalie, defensemen, centers, young players, vets.
And oh, yes, the nine-game losing streak that has no one feeling particularly good. More importantly, it creates a feeling of unrest—some of which is exaggerated by disenchanted fans, but some of which seeps through quotes from the players. We heard all we needed to from Brendan Witt to know he is troubled by the club's style of play. To Witt's credit, he did what so few players do these days—instead of asking to be moved to a rosier situation, he professed his desire to improve the current one.
Still, here's Gordon with young players who have yet to make a serious impact and old players who probably don't love the idea of investing in a future that doesn't include them.
So what does Gordon do? Does he tell his team, "Look, I don't care if we lose every game the rest of the season—this is the way we're playing?"
Or does he give a little? Does he adjust the system to the situation in the hopes of picking up a few more wins here and there? That might at least make things more interesting and less miserable for the guys who have no choice but to win now because there is no later.
Fortunately for Gordon, he doesn't have to make that choice now. Or, at least, he can make the tougher choice—the one that likely leads to a lot more losing right now—without fearing for his job. Such is the value of an unwavering show of support from his General Manager, as delivered by Chris Botta in his interview last night with Garth Snow. Snow does not appear to be panicking as the losses mount.
At this point in time, you have to applaud the clarity of his message. If the players are feeling comfortable enough to voice their concerns about the direction of the team to the media, then further dissent is likely to follow. If you're going to lose a lot, lose together. Don't let the ship go down in a blaze of contentious disaster. Gordon is now free to demand whatever he wants of his team.
There will come a time to pass final judgment on the Snow/Gordon regime. We'll be able to determine whether Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and others were the correct pieces upon which to build. We'll be able to ask whether the Islanders would have been better served by a coach who adapted to the roster he was given, or if the GM failed to produce the roster he vowed would work.
It's simply not that time yet.
Faceoffs (W-L): Weight 1-2, Comrie 8-11, Park 7-6, Hilbert 0-3, Walter 6-8, Bailey 4-7