Sometimes you have to wonder what’s in the water downstate, or at least what’s in Garth Snow’s coffee cup. Here, let me try to lay this on your gently: Al Arbour is the newest coach of the New York Islanders. So is Ted Nolan.
In the only move that can top DiPietro’s signing, 75 year old Al Arbour will go back behind the Islanders bench for one game, November 3rd against Sidney Crosby and the Pens.
Now before you go any further, let’s get something clear. This is about publicity, and nothing more. Sure, everyone loves even numbers, and basic math states that 1,500 is indeed greater than 1,499. However, no one seemed to care much about that difference, not even Arbour himself.
This move is to get press, to get people talking about the Islanders and the NHL. Of course it will work, but is that really a good thing? To me, this move reeks of a Minor League Baseball promotion, something a Single A team in Iowa would pull to get a few thousand more tickets sold.
My problem is not with the self promotion of the issue, but how it is going to effect the game on November 3rd. Regardless of how good a coach Al Arbour is, there are still two points up for grabs that night, and losing that game will make a difference in the standings in the end. And while Al Arbour may be one of the greatest hockey coaches in league history, I’m not sure how I would feel about giving him a different team to toy with for one game.
What happens if it is a disaster and somehow the Isles lost out on a playoff spot by two points? Which two points will everyone look back at? Certainly not the mid October game, but that one Arbour screwed up will be a popular choice.
Think about if Scotty Bowman wanted to do the same thing with the Sabres. Would you enjoy the prospect of Bowman coaching a team completely foreign to him in a game that counted?
Honestly, if the Islanders want to turn their games into an ice circus they should have gone all the way. Ask the NHL to extend the regular season a few weeks so you could have held the game on Arbour Day. Give everyone in attendance a sapling to plant in their yard. Force all the players to use Sherwood sticks for that night. (They picked the right team for that) Make Smokey the Bear a honorary captain for the night.
C’mon guys, you just aren’t trying hard enough. Make me pay attention to you.