Maybe Garth Snow's decisions to send Ryan Strome back to the OHL and not to immediately promote Nino Niederreiter are indications the Islanders are finally on the right development path after so many missteps.

But then it's also possible the Islanders were simply saved from themselves when the NHL and NHLPA excluded Entry Level bonuses from the cap floor calculation and thus eliminated collective bargaining agreement-based economic incentives to include Not Ready for Prime Time teenagers on the roster.

Maybe the years of stockpiling high draft choices will at some point represent a payoff for the organization. But getting to there from here will be painful, there's no doubt about that.

One only need take a quick gander at Team Waiver Wire's roster for last night's opener against the Devils to reach that conclusion, but a word to the wise — make certain to have reference material handy in order to identify the athletes representing the Brooklyn-bound franchise.

And for this, to watch this team, the Islanders actually decided to raise the game price on a number of season-ticket plans by between $3 and $5 per over the cost before the lockout.

We're told this is ownership's way of rewarding previous season subscribers who kept their money on deposit with the club through the lockout, and OK, to a certain extent, though charging other people more money for tickets likely never to be sold, no less, seems like a convoluted way to deliver a bonus.

There's just so much nickel-and-diming there. Really, was it necessary for the Islanders to suspend and thereby not pay Josh Bailey (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (groin) for injuries they suffered playing in Europe during the lockout? Isn't it obvious these guys went to Europe in order to be ready for the start of the NHL season and not to rake in some sort of bonanza?

The Islanders are within their rights here, that is not under dispute. The union did agree in collective bargaining that injuries incurred playing overseas during the lockout would not be considered hockey-related injuries.

But the response to those injuries was left to the individual teams. There is no NHL mandate to suspend. The Islanders decided to save some pennies — Bailey was due to earn the pro-rated portion of $1.3 million, Joensuu the pro-rated share of $600,000 — by punishing a pair of young guys for playing hockey.

Is this the type of operation upper-echelon players want to join? Seriously, isn't a first-class operation away from the rink necessary to create a first-class team on it?

Is this the environment that will travel from Long Island to Brooklyn? Is this the environment in which the fans will have to suffer these final years in that great old barn where the greatest team in the history of hockey once lived?

Come on. These are the big leagues. The people paying big-league prices are owed more.