Each year, Islanders forward Anders Lee hosts a Kan Jam tournament to raise money for pediatric cancer. A bunch of teammates and players from around the NHL show up to throw a frisbee all afternoon and interact with fans for a good cause. This year's goal is to raise $100,000 through the event, scheduled for Monday.
Except, the Islanders' recent struggles on the ice have complicated matters — and Lee found himself caught in the crossfire Thursday.
Fans fed up with general manager Garth Snow launched a GoFundMe this week calling for donations to "help us send a message and tell ownership that 'SNOW MUST GO,'" a message that would be plastered on a billboard near the Barclays Center. The refrain echoed around the arena Wednesday night during an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets, and the campaign reached its stated goal in less than an hour. The goal was then raised to $5,450 to cover the cost of a second billboard.
— Chris Ho-Ward (@Chrishowrad) February 14, 2018
Any additional money raised was to be pledged to Lee's charity, according to the page. But accepting such a donation, collected in an effort to fire his GM, would place the Islanders' 29-goal scorer in an precarious position, and Lee sidestepped the awkward situation by declining the donation — $530 in total — in a message to his Twitter followers.
"I do not feel right accepting money from a movement I don't agree with," he wrote in part. "The main goal for everyone in the organization is to win games. I know that's a fact because I live it and see it every day. We all share that same goal.
"We also share the bond that we were brought here by Garth Snow. He had the faith to draft me in 2009 and I wouldn't be where I am today without his support, so I do not feel right accepting the donation."
— Anders Lee (@leeberr09) February 15, 2018
These are tense times for the Islanders. A 3-5-2 stretch has them trending in the wrong direction in a competitive Metropolitan Division playoff race, entering Thursday three points out of a wild-card spot. Coach Doug Weight apologized earlier this week for criticizing the Islanders' league-worst attendance numbers. And it sure doesn't help captain and face of the franchise John Tavares is less than five months from potentially leaving for good, lest Snow work out a contract extension with his star.
The jury has been out on Snow for some time. If the Islanders miss the playoffs for a second straight year, it's likely fans will get their wish.
Just keep Lee's charity out of it.