* When Garth Snow dealt for Thomas Vanek, I called it a “good gamble.” And if I was Snow at the time, I would have done it again.

* A club such as the Islanders could ill afford to lose its best goalie (Evgeni Nabokov) and two best defensemen (Lubomir Visnovsky-Travis Hamonic) for big chunks of the season.

* Which explains why the Islanders are in an extremely tough make-the-playoffs spot.

* Since there’s plenty of sense up in the NHL’s Sixth Avenue office, the Lords of Hockey will vote that this will be last season that major leaguers will play in the Olympics.

* While it should be getting more exciting by the day, the Ryan Miller Sweepstakes have actually become a bore.

* When it comes to Buffalo, the player I’d try to land from the Sabres — more so than Miller — is pugnacious Steve Ott.

* Did I miss something or did Brian Burke actually pick a general manager and forget to tell me?

* If not — why the long wait?

* If Alex Ovechkin had as much star support as Sidney Crosby the Big 8 would leave The Kid in the dust.

* Is it fair to say that Jonathan Quick has lost his luster? Answer: You bet it is.

* Talk about value of a coaching change, how about my buddy Paul Maurice turning the Jets into JETS.

* Henrik Lundqvist picked a good time to find his game. That’s why I can see a Swedish Gold Medal in hockey later this month.

* Hasn’t anybody figured out that what the Oilers need is what the Jets got; a competent coach.

* Don’t kid yourself, goalie issues will torpedo Team Canada’s hopes for hockey Gold.

* Nobody talks about the “Unseen Hand” in the Olympics. Perhaps it’s because that happens to be the quality of international referees.

* Speaking of valiant efforts, I couldn’t be happier to see Tim Thomas between the pipes in Florida.