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NHL Expert Kara Yorio
Snow daze
Posted: October 10, 2006

As if his situation isn't wacky enough, Garth Snow gets to begin his time as an NHL general manager carrying a player with this ridiculous contract.

Fifteen years.

The Islanders gave goalie Rick DiPietro a 15-year contract in a salary cap world. Such a deal would have made Snow the butt of many jokes if anyone actually thought he was the one who brokered this albatross. No, everybody believes this is owner Charles Wang's brainstorm. Just like hiring his backup goalie to be G.M., come to think of it.

On July 18, one crazy day in Islanders history, Wang fired barely-hired general manager Neil Smith and went to his roster to replace the front office loss. Snow didn't even know he was up for the job.

"I was surprised and a little bit shocked," says Snow.

After last season, Wang had sought Snow's opinion on the team and the organization. By Snow's estimate, they spoke about five times, conversations not uncommon in their relationship.

"I didn't even realize it was maybe like a job interview," Snow says.

He didn't get the job the first time around, but when Smith wasn't working out, Wang went to the man he says was his second choice all along -- the No. 2 goalie on his roster.

Snow, 37, ended his 12-year NHL career that day.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Snow says.

With his surgically repaired hip still ailing, he knew his playing days were numbered. This was his chance to do something he always had wanted to do. He had told Wang as much during a season kickoff dinner about five years ago.

Be careful what you wish for.

While Wang's hands-on management approach was being ridiculed across North America (and this was before the DiPietro deal), Snow checked in with general managers around the league. He says they told him Wang's "everybody reports to me" structure isn't so uncommon.

One general manager Snow talked to was his former boss in Philadelphia, Bob Clarke, who also had retired as a player and immediately became a G.M.

"He said, 'You didn't congratulate me,'" Clarke recalls. "I told him, 'I'll congratulate you at Christmas if you still like the job.'"

To hear Clarke tell it, the job of a G.M. is constant worries without the ability to control anything on the ice. You don't enjoy a win as much as feel relieved, then move on to a new set of concerns. You can't shake off a loss with a hard skate. The Flyers G.M. had a tough time dealing with the emotions of the transition in his first tenure with Philadelphia. According to Clarke, Snow's greatest challenge will be handling the ups and downs without lacing up the skates.

"It takes a while to find your own way," Clarke says. "You're not used to sitting behind a desk."

And not used to being your friends' boss.

COMPLETE ARTICLE
 
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