Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Whose Pick Is It Anyway?

On Monday Greg Logan wrote in his Newsday blog about Garth Snow receiving advice (unsolicited) for handling the No. 1 overall pick in this June's draft. As part of the discussion, Logan quoted Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber from an appearance on TSN's The Reporters. In a segment called, "Thumbs up, thumbs down," Farber said:

"My thumb is down to the New York Islanders, who have decided to poll fans about what to do with the number one draft choice. There are great hockey scouts right there, and they know what they're doing. This is an insult - one, to your scouts. Garth Snow's team is going to look at John Tavares, maybe make him number one, or the tall drink of water from Sweden named Victor Hedman. But if you are listening to your fans, it's an insult because you're pandering people who don't know what they're doing. It was Marv Levy who once said, 'If you start listening to fans, you end up sitting with them.' Listening is a bad idea."

Most Islanders fans know that this quote is a backdoor to a shortcut to an unnecessary conclusion. The submission of fan opinions on the number one draft choice is merely a method by which to enter them in a contest for a trip to the draft. But, once again, it is left to us to make sure that the rest of the NHL community understands the larger, and more accurate, picture.

No one has said that Garth Snow is going to listen to the fans—not in this contest, and not on the many Internet message boards where the vast majority of Islanders fans have already voiced their preference for John Tavares.

Even if Snow himself did say, "What better way to allow our fans to voice their opinion," in the announcement of the contest, it's making a Dominik Hasek-sized stretch to surmise that Snow is taking fan opinions into consideration when he evaluates the top prospects.

The Islanders have already announced the first two winners of the contest. You know what they haven't announced? Any results from the submissions.

Furthermore, I don't know how you can suggest that the scouts are taking offense at any of this. It's marketing and public relations only. The scouts know this. Snow and Charles Wang have heralded their scouting staff over and over and repeatedly stated that the staff is in charge of this process.

If there's one thing I strongly believe, it's that Snow will make what he believes is the right choice regardless of what public opinion says. I don't think the boos that rained down at last year's draft party when Snow traded down from 5 to 7 to 9 and then drafted someone virtually no one in the crowd had considered have changed him one bit. He will risk getting booed all over again to make what he feels is the right choice. And it will be based on Ryan Jankowski's feedback, not ours.

(P.S. I know Lighthouse Hockey already did this, but I had it saved in progress so I'm setting it free anyway!)

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