There's no reason to think that Garth Snow's job is in jeopardy, literally none at all. But the chattering masses on Social media are calling for Garth's Snows head after his terrible '13-'14 offseason and the team's regression this season. So here are two sets of names to consider in replacing Snow this offseason, if it were to happen. the first set would be straight up replacements for Snow and no other changes in the front office. The name missing from this list is Doug Weight, who will have to choose to either stay behind the bench, or move into the front office, this season's proven that his dual responsibilities are a hindrance. Again, these are pure speculation, there's no source for me to pull from and no indication that Garth is on the hot seat. The second set of names would be guys to install as President of Operations to work with Garth or to mentor a first time GM, there's only two names there, but either would be a great pick for that position.
Straight up replacements:
Ron Hextall: LA's assistant would be a blast from the past for the Islanders, but the former Goalie (and netminder for the '94 playoff run) has spent the last 7 years learning the craft under Dean Lombardi; he's watched the Kings go through a full-scale rebuild (joining the team when Thomas Hickey was their top pick in '07) and move into a full-time contention. Hextall presents a Good mix of things you want in a GM and the job in LA isn't his for a while, returning to the Isles would make the most sense for Hextall unless Ed Snider finally comes to his senses and fires the Isles D dealing Paul Holmgren. Hextall also won't be afraid to deal a prospect that isn't his guy to get an established guy, say a Brock Nelson or Ryan Pulock. Hextall makes some good sense.
Paul Fenton: The long time Assistant GM of the Nashville Predators has watched the game evolve from Nashville's expansion through both lockouts and the Salary Cap era. He's been involved in big moves in Nashville (Paul Kariya) and build a small hockey team (Erat, Hornqvist), he's watched over a strong defense that's really only lost one major piece in the last few years (Ryan Suter, or the Chris Bosh to Parise's LeBron). The Predators' have seen a lot of different variations and Fenton's been a part of all of them. The biggest downside for Fenton is the Predators have been down over the last few years and the Predators have yet to get to the Cup Finals under his and Poile's stewardship of the team.
Jason Botterill: Pittsburgh's Assistant GM was a finalist for the Sabres' GM job earlier this year before Tim Murray was given the job (and subsequently beat out Pat LaFontaine in a power grab). Botterill's been a part of the Penguins' Front Office since 2007, initially as a “capologist” so he can work some contract magic (minus the stupid Sid and Malkin deals that were “haha there's going to be a lockout and we're lifing these effers”), a potential plus if you believe the nonsense that owner Charles Wang only cares about the Cap Floor, but let's avoid that for now. Botterill's done well in Pittsburgh and deserving of a GM look, but it likely won't be with the Isles trying to move out of a Rebuild. Botterill is likely to be the sort of guy a team Hires to start a rebuild, or to quickly re-tool a roster in his image.
Claude Loiselle: or should i say “Next GM of the Calgary Flames” Claude Loiselle. Loiselle is a Brian Burke acolyte and he goes where Brian tells him or brings him along to. He's been an Assistant in Tampa Bay and currently an Assistant in Toronto. He's overseen the “Burkeification” of the Leafs and has worked this season with fellow acolyte Dave Nonis on building this year's team. Also to Loiselle's credit, he spent 7 years in the NHL front office in New York and worked on things like Arbitration and Collective Bargaining. He makes this list because he's been an Assistant and gotten mentions of being a GM in the past, but make no mistake: he's going to Calgary to work on Pugnacity.
Greg Sherman: the once and future King in Colorado, the emergence of Patrick Roy (given his wide range of responsibilities) and Joe Sakic as Head Coach and Executive Vice President, respectively, has left Greg Sherman as a figure head this year. Prior to that he's helped build up the Avalanche through their rebuild that began shortly after the Ryan Smyth signing (funny thing that). He's made smart picks and shrewd trades. Sherman has taken a team through a rebuild and been able to build them to a point of taking the next step (having guys like Jan Hejda and Milan Hejduk have helped considerably). Sherman makes a lot of sense for the Islanders, especially moving to a new building after next year. In the match up of GMs if you wanted to put him up against Garth Snow: Advantage Sherman.
Darcy Regier: the one time Isles Interim-GM, and guy who lost the job to Mike Milbury, has an advantage over some of these other guys: he doesn't currently have a job. Regier left the Islanders to replace John Muckler after Ted Nolan ran him out of town in Buffalo and was half of the longest tenured GM/Head Coach for some time when he hired Lindy Ruff. Regier's career in Buffalo speaks for itself with major draft picks (Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Max Afinigainov, Ryan Miller to name a few), he also made trades to bring in names to help in playoff runs. These of course were before the coming of Daddy Warbucks, I mean Terry Pegula. By the end Darcy was maligned for things like the Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff signings, the handling of Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek's impending UFA statuses, and adding John Scott for virtually no reason besides starting fights and being the general useless roster space that he is. We could do worse than Regier, but also, better. Darcy may be better off in an advisory role in the Front Office for the Isles. Time ran out in Buffalo...I'm not convinced he can raise the Isles to the next level.
President of Hockey Ops
In lieu of firing the General Manager, Charles Wang could take a page from the Columbus Blue Jackets and hire someone to the effect of John Davidson, who's primary responsibility will be re-establishing the Islanders brand, but also working with the General Manager (in this instance Garth Snow, or someone hired of their choosing, like Davidson did with Jarmo Kekäläinen. Both of these guys would immediately provide the Islanders positive coverge and are heavy hitters in the NHL. I present:
Larry Pleau: Since leaving the GM job in St Louis in 2010, Larry Pleau has continued to see what he's built shine on the ice as the St Louis Blues are currently the best team in the NHL. Pleau established the blueprint that Doug Armstrong has built upon; he drafted much of the teams core including: David Backes, Roman Polak, TJ Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Ian Cole (stretch on the core thing, but David Perron was traded, so...live with it), Alex Pietrangelo (damn the Isles for winning more games than STL in '08), and finally Jaden Schwarz and Vladimir Terasenko. He also made trades for Chris Osgood, Jaroslav Halak and others at Deadlines (or at drafts) to improve his team to make them contenders. Pleau is currently the Blues Senior Advisor of Amateur scouting, but I doubt he'd turn down an offer of “President of Operations” should one be presented to him when he sees what model of this idea John Davidson has done in the role in Columbus. It's possible he'd want his own GM (Al McInnis? Kevin McDonald?) or his own Coach (Brad Shaw? Davis Payne?) if presented the job. But you could do a lot worse as a guy to re-establish credibility with the league and help a first time GM (Hextall) or advise Garth for a season or two.
Don Maloney: the guy who started the Garth Snow trend (actually I don't know how many players have retired and been installed GM before, but Maloney was the First for the Islanders taking over in 1992), or alternatively: the guy that built the '93 Miracle team. Maloney's made a name for himself since being fired by the Islanders first with the Rangers as an Assistant GM and then with the NHL owned Phoenix Coyotes building consistent winners on shoe-string budgets. He too has built his team through the draft and key signings over the years. Maloney also makes a ton of sense in terms of: nostalgia, a history of winning, an ability to compete on a budget and a way of getting his players for his price. Maloney would ideally have a say in hockey decisions but is brought in as a mentor to Snow (who's been a GM longer than Maloney's been with Phoenix) or a first time GM (Hextall) and again as a reputation restoring guy who can be a seller of the team to UFAs as the team readies to leave Nassau for Brooklyn.
If I had my choice, and I don't; again, none of this will happen, but I'd ideally want to hire Maloney as the President of Hockey Operations and Ron Hextall as the General Manager. It would knock two solid front office guys out of the Pacific Division and two great hockey minds to push the Islanders forward. However, I do believe Garth gets one more offseason to put it all together. If there's a guy to hire though to bring in to re-establish the Islanders, I look at Pleau and Maloney as the guys to bring in to create better spin for the team and be the public face guys to soothe things over for Garth or the next GM. If there's no "President" position created then the Isles find themselves choosing between Sherman or Hextall as the next GM. But again, I don't see any of this happening. Take that for what you will.