Snow's men not melting

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Outlandish contracts and front-office follies have dominated hockey headlines on Long Island the past few years.

Ex-general manager Mike Milbury traded Roberto Luongo, Todd Bertuzzi, Zdeno Chara, Bryan McCabe and Wade Redden and gave Alexei Yashin almost $90 million US for a 10-year contract. Successor Neil Smith was let go before he started the season and his replacement, Garth Snow, provided goalie Rick DiPietro with a 15-year deal for $67.5 million. Ted Nolan's hiring as coach was applauded in some areas, but his work history is a muddled one.

But the Islanders are proving to be as good a comeback story as the Maple Leafs in the early part of the National Hockey League season. They come to town for the first time tonight, with a remarkable record of 3-0-0-1 on a five-game road swing, fighting for first in the Atlantic Division.

DiPietro has a long way to go to earn his millions, but prior to last night, the Isles' goaltending ranked ninth in the league. DiPietro and partner Mike Dunham had a combined .920 save percentage.

"We haven't faced them yet, but they seem to be doing all right," said McCabe, one of two ex-Islander captains on Toronto with Michael Peca. "They're above .500 and coming on."

Yashin has 22 points, a third of the way to his career-high 68. He and Jason Blake have been an unlikely first-line success story and though the arrival of Nolan and Snow have put more scrutiny on the club, Yashin has thrived in the new environment.

The Leafs did not lose to the Isles in regulation time last season (3-0-0-1). Matt Stajan had two game-winning goals for the Leafs.


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