Silence is the only sound that comes out of the Islander organization. While 30 other franchises handle their media obligation the Islanders treat them like an invading force. Even with the Isles collapsing over the previous few weeks, the front office has maintained radio silence. Yes, Doug Weight “talks” (or more appropriately, gets upset when they ask why his team can’t stop others from scoring) to the media after every game, but that’s about it. I wish I could say this is a new tact by this organization, but nobody in the front office steps in front of a microphone and answers the questions that need to be addressed. Not Garth Snow, not Jon Ledecky, not Scott Malkin. Outside of a sit-down with the Athletics’ Arthur Staple, when was the last time anybody heard Snow speak? After the trade deadline nearly every General Manager has a press conference, where they sit in front of the media and address every question of the previous month leading up to the deadline. The Islanders obviously did not. Even when they fired Jack Capuano last year, they only had a conference call. Nobody in the organization felt it important enough to show their face. I don’t know if the organization hold contempt for the media or they truly don’t understand the importance of working with them as a partner to reach their fanbase.
If you are the President of Hockey Operations, one of your jobs is handling the media. A true master uses the media to control the narrative. It’s safe to say the Islanders have not mastered this skill. Dealing with the media is about accountability. The Isles or any other sports team are not like regular companies. Nobody grows up a Nike fan and roots for their success in developing the best footwear. People grow up root for the Islanders to be the best hockey team in the league, therefore they want to know what is going on in almost every aspect of the organization. Their customers (fans) have an emotional attachment to the product unlike any other company. The Islanders have been disrespecting that emotional attachment for decades. It’s the emotional attachment that allows the Islanders to be a successful business. The fact that nobody in the front office will face the media (and in turn fanbase), shows their open disrespect for our emotional attachment to this organization. This attitude is one of the main reasons why the Islanders are treated like a laughingstock by the national hockey media. Nobody understands any of the decisions that are made, and those decisions are not explained. If you are the New England Patriots it’s called be eccentric, when you are the New York Islanders it’s called be a buffoon.
As bad as Snow has been, this issue goes straight to the top of the organization. Whether its Charles Wang, Jon Ledecky or Scott Malkin; ownership has been just as silent. Ownership in general have been more than willing to discuss the arena, whether it’s the Lighthouse, Brooklyn or Belmont but when it comes to the discussing the lack of success on the ice, nobody has anything to say. The buck should stop with them. Personally, any benefit of the doubt given to the new ownership group of Ledecky and Malkin is set to expire April 9th. No matter what decision they make on Snow, Ledecky needs to sit down in front of the entire Islander media and discuss the decision-making processes over the last year. If he fires Snow, Ledecky needs to be transparent in the search process. And if they retain him, they both (Snow and Ledecky) needs to sit down and explain why they continue to have faith in Snow to build this team going forward. After that press conference, there still needs to be a spokesperson for the team. Nearly every franchise has one person that will go answer questions when things go south. I’m not demanding people to lose their jobs every time things don’t go as planned, what fans should be demanding is answers to why those plans are failing.
No matter who is the President of Hockey Operations next season, I implore them to understand the importance of a relationship with the media. They are the best way for the fans to check on the organization. The Islanders are more than a team that plays 82 nights a year to most of their customers. Discussing the operations of the team with the media is the best way to continue developing the emotional attachment most fans have to the organization. If the front office continues to disrespect that emotional attachment; more fans will grow apathetic to this organization. An apathetic fanbase is a terrible customer base.