Garth Snow is busy.
But he’s always busy.
That is the life of a general manager in the National Hockey League.
He is the GM of the New York Islanders.
The former University of Maine goaltender has one of the youngest teams in the NHL but they are in the thick of the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. They are 20-19-8 and in 10th place, just two points out of the eighth and final playoff slot.
The Islanders just regained the services of goalie Rick DiPietro, who was sidelined for more than a year after having knee surgery. The Islanders signed DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract in 2006.
“We have a fun team to watch. We’ve got a lot of good young players,” said Snow. “And it’s fun watching our kids get better and better every game. We do not get outworked and that’s a big thing for us.”
He pointed out that “we have three first-round draft picks on a line together.”
He is referring to 19-year-old center John Tavares, 20-year-old left wing Josh Bailey and 21-year-old right wing Kyle Okposo.
Okposo leads the team in scoring with 31 points, Tavares is third with 29 and Bailey is fifth with 24 points.
“When we came into the season, the perception from the outside was that we weren’t going to win as many games as we have,” said Snow.
However, he said the organization has confidence in the players and the youth movement and “the players believe in themselves.”
He also feels he has the right coach in former Boston College goalie Scott Gordon.
“It has been fun for me to work with a coach as knowledgeable as Scott. He’s a great communicator and the biggest asset he has brought to the table is his ability to work with young players,” said the 40-year-old Snow.
Snow, a former NHL goalie who became the general manager after he retired from playing in 2006, said he has learned that being a general manager is a “24-7 job.
“You never really get away from it. Even when you’re home playing with the kids, your phone is on. Things happen when you least expect them,” said Snow. “When you’re a player, you just worry about yourself and your own game. Now I’m worrying about 23 players, coaches and the scouting staff.
“There’s a lot more responsibility but I’m loving every minute of it,” he added.
The Islanders are currently on a roll in which they’ve won four of five and seven of 10.
“We’re on a good run right now,” said Snow.
One of the reasons behind the run is the play of veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson, whom Snow signed to a two-year, $5 million deal in the off-season. He also signed Martin Biron, another veteran netminder, to compensate for the loss of former Boston University goalie DiPietro.
Former UMass Lowell goalie Roloson is 18-7-6 with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Snow keeps tabs on the Black Bears and is pleased with their resurgence this season.
“When I’m in Boston, I check to see if Maine’s in town,” he said.
He is hoping that the Islanders and the New York Rangers will get the opportunity to play a Winterfest game next season in New York.
Neither has played an outdoor game as yet.
“That would be great for our fan base and for our organization,” said Snow. “It would be fun. It’s a natural rivalry. I’ve played in a lot of different rivalries and this is the best rivalry since my college days and we played BU.”
Snow said former Black Bear defenseman Jack Capuano is doing an exceptional as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“He’s got a young group there, too. He did real well last year. He set the franchise records or wins and points and did it with a youthful group which is a good sign for our future,” said Snow. “”I think he definitely has the potential to be an NHL coach. I’m sure, at some point, I’ll get a call from an NHL team asking me for permission to talk to him.”
Capuano has a home in Bangor with wife Donna and children Adrianna and Anthony.
Snow and wife Erica are the parents of three sons: Glenn, Miller and Parker.
“Parker isn’t named after [BU coach] Jack Parker,” joked Snow.