snow-garth-apfile-2004

Garth Snow makes a save for the New York Islanders in this file photo. Snow retired Tuesday to take over as the Islanders' general manager. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Slightly more thana month after he was hired, Neil Smith has been fired asgeneral manager of the New York Islanders.

And the man replacing him is just months removed from donning a blocker and trapper with the Islanders.

Goaltender Garth Snow was named Islanders' GM in a surprise move on Tuesday.The 36-year-old veteran, whoplayed 20 games with the club last year, has no management experience.He has retired after 12 NHL seasons to take the job.

"This is a proud moment for me, a dream come true," said Snow, who played the final four years of his career on Long Island."It's an opportunity I wanted more than anything.

"Islander fans can be assured that this franchise is going to do everything in its power to bring another Stanley Cup to Long Island."

Snow is the fifth GM inIslandershistory. He has a 135-147-44 record with a 2.80goals-against averageand a .901 save percentage in 368 NHL games. His career also included stints with Quebec, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Pittsburgh.

Philosophical differences at the root of firing

Islanders owner Charles Wang cited philosophical differences as the reason for Smith's dismissal, alluding toproblems Smith might have had with the rest of the Islanders hockey operations staff, including new head coach Ted Nolan, senior adviser Pat LaFontaine and player development director Bryan Trottier.

"As I made clear at the press conference last month, we are running this as a business, incorporating the opinions of our hockey operations staff — including Ted Nolan, Bryan Trottier and Pat LaFontaine," said Wang. "Despite Neil's commitment to me that he could work in this environment, he later expressed to me on a number of occasions his philosophical opposition to our business model.

"In light of our differences, I felt that I had no choice but to make this decision in the best interests of the Islanders and our fans. I'm very proud of our draft and the roster additions our staff made this month. Our fans should know that with Ted, Garth, Bryan and Pat helping to lead the way, the Islanders are in very good hands."

Smith, 52, was hired as GM on June 8, along withNolan. Smith replaced longtime Islanders GM Mike Milbury, who became vice-president of Wang's sports properties.

Free-agent signings

Smith had been active in the free-agent market this month, signing standout defencemen Brendan Witt and Tom Poti as well as free-agent forwards Chris Simon, Mike Sillinger and Andy Hilbert.

Smith was GM of the New York Rangers from 1989 to 2000 andbuilt the 1994 squad, captained by Mark Messier, that captured the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years.

He was fired by the Rangers after the 1999-2000 season and most recently worked as a hockey analyst for the Outdoor Life Network, which broadcasts NHL games in the United States.

Smith, by coincidence, was drafted as a defenceman by the Islanders (204th overall in 1974), but never played in the NHL. After several seasons in the minor leagues, he was hired by the Islanders as a pro scout.

When he was hired as GM in early June, Smith was happy to be returning to his roots.

"I'm thrilled to be back home again where I started," he said at the time.

Smith also spent time as a scout with the Detroit Red Wings.

with files from the Canadian Press