November 03, 2011
On July 18, 2006, New York Islanders' backup Garth Snow retired and was summarily announced as the team's new General Manager. Needless to say, it was a surprise.
It was also the first of two extremely unusual offseason goaltending moves the Islanders would make that year. The second came two months later, when Snow made his first gonzo deal, handing Rick DiPietro(notes) a guaranteed $67.5 million to mind the net for the next 15 years.
I go back and forth over which goaltending move was a more unorthodox one for the Islanders. What's stranger, signing goaltenders to deals that will outlive most housepets, or promoting backups to general manager? Either way, the summer of 2006 was a good time to be a goalie on Long Island.
Since then, not so much. Just north of five years from signing the deal, DiPietro has only played 164 games due to a bevy of injuries, some suffered in unlikely scenarios, such as during the All-Star game shootout competition or in a goalie fight.
Meanwhile, the team has utilized 12 separate starters for a combined total of 276 games, as Wade Dubielewicz(notes), Mike Dunham(notes), Joey Macdonald(notes), Yann Danis(notes), Peter Mannino(notes), Dwayne Roloson(notes), Martin Biron(notes), Al Montoya(notes), Kevin Poulin(notes), Mikko Koskinen(notes), Nathan Lawson(notes), and Evgeni Nabokov(notes) have all seen time in goal.
How does one explain this sort of absurdity? With an absurd explanation, of course: my friends, this is a curse.
As everybody knows, the easiest way to get a curse is to anger a pantheon of gods (seriously, everybody knows this). Could the Islanders have done this?
Yes. Think back to that 2006 offseason, when the franchise did things with their goaltenders you're simply not supposed to do, like give the backup the corner office or give the starter 15 years like he's the freaking U.S. Comptroller General.
I hypothesize that the combination of these two moves so confounded and angered the hockey gods that they responded by cursing the team's netminding situation for the foreseeable future.
Only 10 games into the season, the curse has clearly continued to wreak its havoc on the Islanders. Healthy to start the year, DiPietro took a shot from teammate Brian Rolston(notes) off the mask in practice, and missed time with a concussion.
That can't be a coincidence. At the risk of sounding very superstitious, the writing's on the wall.
No wonder Evgeni Nabokov refused to report last season. Nobody wants to be mixed up in someone else's curse. Of course, Garth Snow has effectively taken control of his soul like the Reverend Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side so there's nothing Nabokov can do about it now.
So what's the solution to the Islanders' goalie curse? Black salt in the bathwater? Solve an unsolved murder? Sacrifice a vengeance demon to the fates? Throw Nino Niederreiter(notes) into a volcano? No idea, I've never been cursed. But if I'm Garth Snow, I'm calling every shaman in the Long Island area to get some answers.