No quick fixes for reeling Isles

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
10:40
AM ET
How about this for advice on what the New York Islanders should do to snap a demoralizing nine-game winless streak?

MSG analyst Butch Goring suggested that the downtrodden Isles should round up the troops and "tie one on" to loosen things up. Of course, Goring is talking about the wayward crew hitting the town and getting blitzed to take the pressure off from their recent struggles.

A bit unorthodox, but I have to admit: I don't hate the idea. After all, could things possibly get any worse?

In the midst of a daunting five-game road trip out West, the Isles dropped their ninth straight game Saturday night in Los Angeles (8-17-5, 15th place), a game that felt eerily similar to one three years ago.

The Isles entered a November 13, 2010, matchup against the Kings on a nine-game skid and came out flat, dropping their 10th straight. Following that 5-1 loss, then-coach Scott Gordon was fired. The team's uninspired performance was the last straw for general manager Garth Snow, who made the move to dismiss Gordon two days later and replace him with interim coach Jack Capuano.

Now Capuano finds himself handling that same sort of scrutiny that his predecessor endured, with many fans calling for his job.

A tough decision faces Snow, particularly because the simple move of making a coaching change would not be a quick cure-all that would solve the Islanders' biggest issues right now. Most immediately, they need help on defense and help in goal. On a larger scale? There needs to be a culture change, and that doesn't happen quickly.

Players and coaches are responsible, but at some point Snow and team owner Charles Wang need to be held culpable as well. Wang hasn't always made Snow's job easy, with such a tight, unrelenting grip on the purse-strings and an unrealistic view of how business is done within the NHL. Snow has made mistakes along the way, too, from both a player development angle (Nino Niederreiter, Josh Bailey) and an asset management standpoint (how questionable is that Vanek-for-Moulson deal looking right now?).

Put plainly: If the Islanders are going to take the next step, it will take more than just the players performing better. There has to be an infrastructure in place that allows them to succeed and, most importantly, there has to be accountability from top to bottom.

Right now, that's lacking.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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