Monday, February 23, 2009

The Campoli Trade: A Disappointing Success

Two things disappointment about me the Campoli-Comrie trade. First, I was disappointed that the Islanders completed and announced the deal at a time when I wouldn't be near a computer for about six hours. Woe is me. Cry me a river. I mean, please, cry a river for me.

Second, and more significant, it's disappointing that Chris Campoli did not want to be part of the solution here. I don't say that with any intention of maligning a good guy for his play, his attitude, or his desire to seek a trade. But when you have a young player you drafted, who does seem to fit what the organization is doing, and has a chance to be part of the organization's turnaround, it's disappointing that he couldn't find a way to make it work.

Quotes from the coach indicate that he challenged Campoli to be better. Gordon has tried this motivational tactic with other players, and seen positive results. However, some players don't respond to being challenged. Or, worse, they respond negatively. It's up to Gordon to figure out whether his motivational style is appropriate for everyone. He may need to take a page from the master, Al Arbour, who was known for adapting his motivational techniques to get the most out of each individual.

I share Islesblogger's concern that multiple players have seen fit to express their dissatisfaction with playing under Scott Gordon. For now, we will have to cling to the idea that weeding out those players is simply a tollgate in the process of launching Islanders 8.0 (version number debatable).

Campoli could have been a useful player for the Islanders for years to come. They will get on just fine without him. If he does elevate his game with Ottawa or another team in the future, you can't ask the Islanders how they have replaced a player who never reached that level with them. All indications are that they would have been happy to keep Campoli for at least his next contract. Once a player asks to be traded, he is no longer the same asset with the same potential or the same future.

Gordon really is getting the opportunity to create this team from his own mold. Let's hope Garth Snow can find enough willing pieces of raw material. Remember, at the AHL level, not many players are going to complain about the system or seek a trade because they think they need a change. They are subservient to the opportunity to prove themselves. That's not the case in the big leagues.

Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Mark Streit, and Trent Hunter are the first wave of players that must buy in and accept any challenge put forth by the coach. So far, so good.

All things considered, the trade itself is not a disappointment. Jack Hillen has as much potential to be Campoli as Campoli has to be better than what he has been to this point. We've already discussed how accumulating more draft picks is in the Islanders' best interest. Adding a top-30 pick for a player you can replace looks just about right.

The trade did leave me wondering if the Islanders had burned two trade chips for the price of one return asset, but I imagine that if Snow could have turned Campoli into a first-rounder and Mike Comrie into something with more of a future than Dean McAmmond, he would have done so. We'll probably never know if Snow needed to include Comrie, or if he insisted on it. Either way, if Snow's goal was to get a first-rounder at reasonable cost, considering all the circumstances, he succeeded.

(This post was originally published at on February 21, 2009.)

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