Top 10 Reasons why people don't mistake me for Brendan Witt

Happy New Year Guys! Rather than write about the forgettable Ottawa game, I though I would introduce a new addition to the GFIC blog, the top ten list.

Top Ten Reasons why people don't mistake me for Brendan Witt

Number 10- It takes Brendan Witt less than 3 weeks to grow visible facial hair

Number 9- If I get sucker punched at work, I don't walk away laughing when my co-worker gets penalized

Number 8- Brendan Witt can call Rick DiPietro's cell phone on a regular basis without having a restraining order issued against him

Number 7- When Brendan Witt gets hit on the ankle with frozen hockey pucks he doesn't scream "Oh, the humanity!" as he lays twitching on the ice

Number 6- When walking outside the Islander locker room, Brendan Witt doesn't hear the equipment manager ask under his breath "who the hell is this guy"?

Number 5- If I come limping home with a black eye and stitches on my forehead my wife doesn't scream "I told you to wear that damn visor!"

Number 4- The thought, "That was a pretty nasty paper cut, looks like a sick day for me tomorrow" has never crossed Brendan Witt's mind

Number 3- Brendan Witt played for the Washington Capitals

Number 2- If I cross checked Sean Avery, I would be arrested (after my lengthy hospital recovery)

And the Number One Reason people don't confuse me for Brendan Witt- I can't tell my wife "I'm going to Ottawa honey, see you in ten days"

Why we may be in for a long Season

I was having a discussion with a co-worker 2 weeks ago about the Islanders and what I felt were some glaring problems that were developing, and on December 19th the Islanders played a game against the Sabres that seemed validate my fears; unfortunately we may just be in for a long season.

When I look at this team, I consider its core to be made up of Rick DiPietro, Brendan Witt, and Radek Martinek. Honorable mention goes to Ted Nolan, but as he can't dress for us, that's all I can give him. Now don't get me wrong, you can laud players like Campoli, Vasicek, Park and Bergenheim, but I'm talking about our core, the real strength of our team. The only problem with the core is that it contains no goal scorers. When opposing teams play us, who do they fear? Which line? Which forward? Which defenseman playing the point on the power play?

The game against Buffalo was telling. We played an "Islander" type of game. We were strong defensively and generally played well in the neutral zone. The shot differential was incredible, 43- 17 in favor of the Isles. DP played well, and the effort from the team was strong and constant. Islanders hockey.

Only problem, as the final horn sounded, the Isles wound up on the losing side of the scoring sheet. And the culprit? No surprise, it was our inability to score. When we were in the worst of our scoring woes coach Ted Nolan often stated that the team just needed to work harder to create opportunities, which is true. However, does anyone out there think that for the 13 games in a row where we could not score more that 2 regulation goals we were consistently lacking effort. I don't buy it. Although Coach Nolan can't come right out and say this, what we are lacking is scoring talent, not effort. Again, lets go back to the Buffalo game. Here are some of DP's comments.

"We played the type of game we've talked about playing. The last month we seemed to get away from playing our smart kind of style and being opportunistic, and we did that tonight. Unfortunately, we weren't able to score more goals."

I do not see us acquiring one player which would allow us to break out of this, and enable us to fight for much better than an 8th seeded playoff birth. More importantly, we are more than one or two players away from being able to truly contend in the postseason. Plus, who can we afford to give up while still maintaining competitiveness? The message boards this Summer contained many optimistic posts where fans arrived at the conclusion that the players we were getting could produce the goals we lost on July 1. Unfortunately, the posts also assumed that Ted Nolan could basically walk on water and therefore get career results out of all of his forwards. He is an excellent coach who we are very fortunate to have, but he cannot score goals for us. Also, even with all the goals we had last year, we barely made the playoffs and bowed out early.

Look, I'm not saying we're out of it, just that we have a severe flaw right now that is not easily corrected. I think we have little choice but to lean toward the re-building route (I'll allow a moment for a cringe). We have Okposo to look forward to soon, along with a talented blogger that follows his every move , and most importantly, we have a championship caliber goaltender signed for a very long time. Garth Snow will have a great deal on his shoulders in the upcoming years, and it will be far from easy. If done right, however, the reward can be glorious.

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Holidays. And as always, go Isles!

Chris Simon

Unfortunately, Chris Simon's actions against Jarkko Ruutu Saturday night left the Islanders little choice but to come out with this statement from Charles Wang:

"The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for. They were reckless, potentially dangerous and against our team concept of grit, character and heart.

We know Chris as a respected teammate and as a gracious man away from the playing surface and believe strongly that he has earned our continued support. The Islanders are going to provide some time for Chris away from the team and give him the counseling he needs and the compassion he deserves. When Chris is completely ready, he will be a member of our team again."

I believe this is the right statement, as there is simply no credible defense the team can make for Simon's actions. Actions which will produce the 7th suspension of his career.

As a fan, this incident and its aftermath saddens me. I personally saw how visibly upset Ted Nolan was at the press conference after the game against the Penguins. I am sure he knew then that we all may have witnessed Simon's last game as an Islander. Nolan has a bond with Simon that stretches back to Sault Ste. Marie, where he served as a mentor to Chris.

I have some memories of Chris Simon as an Islander (only time will tell if he will have an opportunity to generate more), and seeing him enthusiastically celebrate with his team as they clinched a playoff birth last year at the Meadowlands ranks high among them. This year, after being granted a media pass by the Isles I saw him in an office adjacent to the team locker room looking almost gentle as he spoke with a member of the team's staff. That image stood in stark contrast to the one he maintained in the outside world. And I will not forget that Chris Simon would never turn his back on one of his teamates, and often fought to defend them.

So while I will join the many voices who will criticize his actions Saturday night, I won't criticize him as a person.

Every night that man pulled an Islander jersey over his chest, he brought more heart to his job than I will ever dream of bringing to mine.

An Eventful Evening

Driving on the Meadowbrook on the way to the Coliseum for last night's game vs. the Pens, I turned to K-Rock in the hopes of finding the Strokes or something to get me pumped up for some hockey. Instead, I found some dated Pearl Jam. Onto Q104.3, where I was greeted with "Tuesday Afternoon" by the Moody Blues. Great. I'm all hyped up to see my Isles on Saturday night and I get that ill-fitting tune. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an accurate omen of the night to come.

First let me say that I have no idea what Bergeron was doing when he, under no duress, threw the puck from behind DP off the side of his net, setting up Crosby for an early Christmas gift in the first. DP looked furious, as did the over 15 thousand in attendance tonight. Bergeron's puck handling was appalling all night, and my guess is Berard may be back in the line-up for Wednesday. Also, how long are we going to expose ourselves to shorties by keeping MAB and Satan on the points on the man advantage?

Let me get to the bigger stories here. At 12.33 in the second the referees (apparently showing some sense of loyalty to the other skaters wearing black and white) decided to get involved in the outcome of the game by levying 2 roughing calls against the Islander's Witt and Vasicek. The Vasicek call frustrated me, as it appeared as all he did was defend Witt who was getting attacked by several Penguins, but as Whitney got called too, I can live with it. The calls become controversial as we consider the following. Brendan Witt told reporters after the game that one of the referees told him he was "playing Crosby too tough" after he and Crosby cross-checked eachother and only Witt got called. The resulting power play led to Pittsburgh's game winning goal. Greg Logan of Newsday asked "have you ever been told that before"? Witt responded in the negative. So there you have it. There is an important lesson here for all defensemen from every team in the NHL. Do not play Sydney Crosby "too tough". Allow him to situate himself comfortably in front of your goaltender. If he looks thirsty, offer him a beer.

Fans of every team should be alarmed by this.

Next, the Simon penalty. At 14.06 in the third, Simon received a game misconduct for intent to injure. Now, from the vantage point of the blog box, we did not have a terribly clear view of what happened, and it appeared as if many of the beat writers didn't see it either. I did, however watch the replay this morning. This call seemed justified, and I simply question Simon's action. With 6 minutes to go in the game, Simon pulled out Ruutu's leg his his left skate (which was a little more innocuous as he was helping out a teamate), but then stepped on his leg. I'm trying to be objective, and if someone did that to DiPietro, or Bergenheim, I'd be livid. There may be some repercussions if the league levies additional penalties, we'll see. I'm going to wait for what the Islanders and Simon officially say later to be fair, but this one might be tough to defend.

I bought a new hat last night at the arena, the blue and white mesh one DP can often be seen wearing. And Patrick and Angela from Rockaway got engaged during a TV timeout (congrats guys). So, if you're looking for some positives, there you go. Now I get to watch the Jets play at New England. Great...Tuesday afternoon man, Tuesday afternoon.

Guess who's back, back again...?

Last night, as my wife and I entertained company, a friend of mine from Florida called. "Guess where I'm going?" To which I responded, "you are so lucky, you are going to the Tampa game". Heather and Danny are former NY Islanders themselves (residents, not players), since transplanted, and they attended the game while enthusiastically reporting back to me "We hear 'Let's go Islanders' chants in the building". I love it. Like it or not, Islander fans are ubiquitous.

Its nice to know that when it counts, we can always rely on our top two goal scorers, Andy Hilbert and Billy Guerin to light the lamp for us. OK, I jest somewhat, but I am serious when I say that Hilbert showed good patience last night in holding the puck for a crucial moment before positioning himself to beat Holmqvist. And Guerin, good for him. He's been grinding, and fighting (literally as in the case vs. Florida) for this goal. And although I have watched the replay 3 times, I still have no idea how the puck floated into the net. No matter, it just goes to show, throw the puck at the net with some traffic, and you never know.

If you did not see last night's game, do yourself a favor and watch the 1st period on DVR. Andy Sutton laid the best shoulder/ hip check I've seen in a long time on Doug Janik. It was clean, it drew the ire of Tampa while generating an Isles PP, and it basically was the type of hit that makes hockey fans love the game. Andy Sutton has been superb at determining when he has forwards backchecking and leveling tremendous hits when those opportunities arise.

DiPietro was brilliant last night. By the time the 3rd period came around I said to myself, "we owe it to Ricky to win this game. We cannot let him down." And we didn't. Campoli (A) and Sillinger (G) capitalized on an overtime power play to take the second of the year from Tampa.

The captain is back (he's too good of a player for that draught to have continued much longer), and we broke the losing streak. And although I'm a little disappointed in a 1 for 8 performance on the man advantage, I'm happy with a hard fought win. The Isles now enjoy a little time off before they fly to Buffalo, where they'll hope a little momentum will come along for the ride.

Crosstown Traffic

Due to my move in November coupled with holiday commitments with the family and in-laws, I was not able to attend Islander games with the frequency I did in October. As December rolled around, however, I knew that I would be back to my old self. And to get the ball rollin', I bit the bullet, and decided to make a weeknight game. Weeknight games present some logistical difficulties, but at this point, I was hurtin' to get back to the Coliseum.

I drove in to the city on Monday (I live north of NYC and work on the west side of Manhattan) and parked my car at the local garage. Throughout the day, I looked forward to the game. All I had to do was sneak out of work a earlier than usual (approx 5.15), pick up the car, and drive to the arena. Piece of cake, in theory.

I left work about a ten after five and went to pick up my car. My first mistake of the night (and there were a few) was to inadvertently take Broadway instead of Columbus and get stuck in the loop at Columbus Circle and shot out the complete wrong way heading north parallel to Central Park. I was able to right myself from this scenic detour 10 minutes later and eventually get to Columbus, where I made the biggest mistake of the evening. Instead of dealing with the certain crosstown gridlock further downtown, I felt the best bet was to get to the East Side via 57th street. Apparently, however, there are tourists that frequent that area this time of year, who knew? Shopping tourists helped create a complete traffic standstill. Lights would turn green, and literally no cars would move. This happened twice before I began cursing (and screaming).

At about 57th and Sixth I really began to lose it as it approached 5.45 and I was sitting still on the West side of Manhattan. This was approximately when I threw an elbow to the vacant passenger seat (see injury report at the end of this blog). Eventually, after an unforgiving western trek I made it to second avenue, and needing fresh air, I rolled down the window (yes, it was quite cold and I imagine it looked quite alarming to passing pedestrians) and flew south to the midtown tunnel. I cleared the tunnel at 6.10, exactly one hour after I left my office.

The LIE, as anyone reading this site will likely know, is a challenge of will. Myriad traffic jams presented themselves, most notably leading up to Woodhaven Blvd and around the Queens/ Long Island border. This game for which I planned so much for, and looked forward to with such enthusiasm, was slipping away from me as I sat in traffic.

At 6.45, as if by the grace of the hockey gods, traffic lifted and I drove with great alacrity to the Meadowbrook and onto the furthest reaches of the Coliseum parking lot where I began my run to the arena in seemingly Arctic conditions. In the end, I walked into Coliseum with just enough time to put my right hand over my heart as the anthem began.

In order to put this night into terms that a hockey fan can appreciate, I came up with my own version of an event summary:

Penalties: McGlynn 2 minutes (elbowing) at 19.26
McGlynn 2 minutes (unsportsmanlike conduct- swearing) various

Injuries: McGlynn (slight bruise, right elbow)

Number of times profanities used: 41 (includes commute and subsequent Islander 3-1 loss)

During the trip to the Coliseum, as outlined above, I swore up and down "never again on a weeknight"; but even though the Isles lost and continued their scoring drought, I was happy being in the building, and thrilled to be in the locker room for the press conferences.

Who am I kidding anyway? I'll do it again. After all, hockey is like religion, and I hear church bells every gamenight.

Go Time

As I made the commute from the city tonight I passed 2 guys wearing Islander jerseys, no doubt on their way the the World's Most Heinous Arena for tonight's game against the Rangers. It was a sight that would get the adrenalin going in any Islander fan.

The Isles, coming off of a big win against the Senators, arrive with some room for improvement. Most notably, the power play has been nothing short of deplorable as of late. This morning, the NHL had us at 15th in the league. Compare that with October 22nd when we led the league in PP %. Going 0 for 4 last night only exacerbated the precipitous slide. The Isles continued the trend in the 1st, missing on a PP opportunity early, which included a 5 on 3 created by a delay of game call vs. the Rangers. The first closed with a double minor to Orr after a dirty hit on Comrie, which preceded some level of chaos when Ryan Holweg played mad scientist with Radek Marinek's stitches. Another missed opportunity on the man advantage resulted.

The second was intense with Betts inadvertently scoring on Lunqvist as Islanders crashed the net after an unexpected bounce off the glass (It counts as a PP goal, which we'll take). This was followed by a quick Simon/ Orr scuffle and a Ranger Power Play goal- Drury, his 6th of the season off a DP rebound. With less than 4 minutes to play Gomez netted his 5th goal of the season, another off the power play. This was becoming an unpleasant game to blog about until Comrie finally scored with about 2 minutes left in the second.

Ok, if you were watching the 2nd intermission, you saw Fischler and Trautwig talking about the "hockey pants" worn by the Flyers and Whalers back in the day. Images were shown. They looked like athletic/ workout pants matched with hockey jerseys. Very unpleasant.

Lunqvist had a great save on Hunter early in the third, and with about 14 and a half minutes remaining, the Sillinger line created another great scoring chance that Hilbert miraculously missed. I think it may finally be time to consider bumping Park to the third line, with Hilbert relegated to fourth line and penalty killing duties. His defensive talent and hard work is overshadowed by his inability to finish. Its probably far enough into the season to fairly come to that conclusion.

The Isles couldn't pull this one out of their hat, but I'll take 3 out of 4 against the Rangers thus far. Gallant and Nolan will have their work cut out for them improving our power play; because if it had been stronger tonight, this would have been a different game.

We won't see these guys again until March, and its any one's guess where these teams will be then.

You can have anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Anything of course, except a Power Play goal.

I hope everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I was in PA with the in-laws and have been watching a great deal of Islander hockey on DVR. On Friday morning the wife and I ventured out and took the plunge on a 32 inch Sony HDTV. So between hi-def Islander hockey and XBOX 360 gaming I put the over/under before I lose my job at three weeks, after which I can write this blog full time.

Andy Hilbert scores the game tying goal last night, how bout that? I wouldn't have let the guy hold my friend's newborn after his open net miss in the previous game against Boston, but he scored via a very pretty screen shot through Ward's legs and past Thomas. Park, positioned perfectly off the left circle, netted the game winner after a rebound generated from a Fedetenko shot.

Lines were tweaked for this game in an attempt to get the top two lines moving. Simon skated with Comrie and Guerin, where he was expected to forecheck and cycle the puck out to his linemates, who are more deft goal scorers. (Let's not forget, however, that Simon has better hands than anyone really gives him credit). I felt this generated some jump for this line, more early on than later.

Fedetenko was lined up with Vasicek and Satan and these players generally posed the most consistent threat. Miro led all forwards with 21.25 in ice time. While I am thrilled with another close win and another sellout, there is cause for concern with the lack of scoring from our top line and anemic power play production. Coming in at 3 for 40 on the man advantage over the past ten games (as reported by Greg Logan), we went 0 for 3 last night. If our top line doesn't score goals, and our power play does not connect, we will not win these one goal games forever.

This win puts us at at a tie with the B's with at least a game in hand on everyone in the conference. Reason to be excited, but not too excited. We have Ottawa to contend with this week, after all.

"DP is the new Denis Potvin"

And a finer complement DP may never receive. As the garden faithful were giving DP the business in the beginning of the 1st with one of their brilliant chants, Howie Rose made the correlation as shown in the subject line. What a compliment for DP, as the only way the Ranger fans seem to be able to deal with their most talented rivals is to come up with chants. ______ sucks. (Insert name on the blank line).

First things first. If you were watching this game you saw Avery get pushed by an Islander player into DP's crease with about 3 minutes left in the first. You also would have seen Avery throw his hands up as he fell to cross check DP on the neck/ head area. This could have been inadvertent, but if you saw the tape, it was clearly intentional. It worked though, as it drew a retaliatory penalty from DiPietro. Jaffe was a little hard on DP for taking the penalty, but if it was me, I would have gone after Avery as well. (Assuming I was wearing pads and a mask, of course).

A very cautious first period gave way to an extremely intense second. It was nice to see Fedetenko finally score a PP goal for the Isles as they haven't scored one since November 10. Conversely, it was disappointing not to be able to score on the 5-3 we had in the second after the double minor to Avery and even more disappointing to give up the earlier short handed goal, which allowed the Ranger fans to get back into the game. And after watching Avery drive his glove into Fedetenko's nose for about 12 seconds toward the end of the period I discovered something. I absolutely can't stand Sean Avery.

Onto period 3. The Isles got things started with a devastating hit by Bryan Berard on Drury followed by a successful unrelated kill. The Isles had some tremendous chances on a subsequent PP with Berard ringing one off the post. Hitting was intense with time ticking down in the final few minutes of the game as the Isles did a nice job blocking passing and shooting lanes. With one minute to go the Isles had to fend off a two man advantage on a kill as henrik sat on the bench. And they did it. Make that 6 straight games at msg without a loss. Cue the HIP commercial and bring on Fischler baby!

I doubt I'll get another post in before this weekend, so I wanted to take a moment to wish all fellow fans out there a great Thanksgiving. Good night.

Hey, You're Earl "The Pearl" Monroe

I was having lunch with a fellow Islander fan the other day when we realized that we are inundated with the same group of commercials when we watch Islander games. Perhaps you recognize the subject line from the HIP commercial with Earl Monroe and Gina at the firehouse. And how about "I'm Christie Brinkley, and I'm an Islander". Why don't we mix that one up a little bit? How about "I'm the Seventh Woman, and I'm an Islander". Why not, she's a loyal fan too. Anyone hungry for a cheese steak from Subway? I'm not, but I sure have seen enough ads for their newest Quizno challenging offering enough. And of course, if there's an Islander fan without Geico car insurance after years of exposure to cavemen and little gecko creatures, I'd love to meet him. My friend posed a great question. When the Islanders watch game tape, are they forced to sit through the same spots? Can you see Witt and Martinek sitting there reviewing game tape from the Devil game and Martinek remarking "not this HIP commercial again". I hope not.

Perhaps this is specific to our cable company? We have cablevision, as we like to support James Dolan and his tendency to keep the Knicks and Rangers mired in mediocrity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the sponsors of our beloved team. I'm just saying, if you're sitting out there in Islander country thinking, "If I ever see another HIP commercial again..." you're not alone. Chances are there are a couple of Islander defensemen doing the same thing.

Avery Incident- Update

As I posted earlier, the NY Times is reporting that there are accusations that Ranger's forward Sean Avery "made derogatory comments about the recent cancer diagnosis of Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake". This allegedly occured during an on ice incident with Blake and Darcy Tucker prior to the start of Saturday's Ranger- Leaf game. The altercation with Tucker resulted in a fine of 25K to the Rangers, 10K to the Leafs, 2.5K to Avery and 1K to Tucker.

The alleged comments, which Avery vehemently denies, were first brought to light by a Toronto radio reporter. Here is Avery's official statement as released by the Rangers:

“I am extremely upset and hurt that false and damaging comments were attributed to me regarding Jason Blake. I made no such comments. I have lost two grandfathers to cancer and have been a consistent contributor to multiple cancer-related charities, first and foremost, Hockey Fights Cancer. I am unable to comment further, as the matter is now being addressed by legal counsel.”

So lets take the accusation about the Blake comment into consideration. There are 2 scenarios that I can see. 1) Sean Avery is the victim of horrible slander. Some Toronto Radio personality, or his or her source, fabricated this extremely specific and malicious slander directed towards Sean Avery. An outrageous lie was created to vilify a Ranger forward, or 2) Sean Avery said something to Blake and Tucker regarding Blake's illness in an attempt to agitate them.

Which do you buy?

I remember reading an interview with Sean Avery years ago when he was with the Kings. It was with either Maxim or FHM. In the piece, Avery stated that when he really wanted to get under a players' skin, he would start talking about their wife.

I would love to believe Avery's denial, but his past actions lead me to question it.

Avery attacks Blake's Cancer Diagnosis- Report

The NY Times is reporting today that there are accusations that Sean Avery of the Rangers made disparaging comments about Jason Blake's recent cancer diagnosis Saturday night. The comment was allegedly exchanged with Darcy Tucker in a pre-game incident Saturday, which already produced fines for the Leafs, Rangers and both players.

Avery is vehemently denying these comments.

Tonight I will have the full story and my thoughts.

Road Jerseys

Hello fellow Islander fans. I have finally moved back to NY and am now taking an inventory so as to ensure all the important pieces of my life made it through. Please bear with me.

Wife- Check

Autographed and framed ("Norris x 3") Denis Potvin Photo- Check

XBOX 360- Check

OK, I'm in good shape. Now how about our Isles? Since when did the Isles become number 8 on ESPN's power rankings? (thank you Thomas P). Since when did we become a team that somehow finds a way to win the close divisional games by coming back from behind? Since when did we become the team with the most improved attendance over last year? Since when did Chris Campoli become such a force on the power play? Since when...?

I'm not quite sure how to answer any of these questions, but I am sure that every single Islander fan out there should truly savor what this team is doing right now. We have balance because different players and lines are helping us win on different nights. We should be grateful because we have a goalie that is keeping us in every game. We have a coach that is making the right decisions and pulling the right strings with whoever he has on the ice on any given night. Finally, we have an organization that has shown vision in improving the exposure of this team by introducing this blog box, hosting Al Arbour's night, and flooding tv, print and the Internet with advertising in an successful attempt to improve Fall attendance. For the first time in a long time, this organization is running as we all knew it could.

I know its early, and its a long season, but let's take a moment to stop and enjoy this. We deserve it.

Good Luck to the Isles as they prepare for the "Godless" Flyers tonight. It will begin an unforgiving schedule as we make amends for a light October filled primarily with home games. The team seems hungry though, and I don't know about you, but I'm ready to sit back and enjoy every game.

On a final note, anyone else catch Fran Healy's show "Halls of Fame" with Denis Potvin which aired after the win against the Devils? In one night we saw the best of our current and past teams. Can't beat that.

It's Go Time...and a Shout-out to a loyal Isle fan

Well, its not really go time for the Isles yet, but for my wife and I, tomorrow morning is our move. Its been terribly busy, but I wanted to take a moment to drop a line to my fellow Islander countrymen.

There's not much to say about the Ranger game at this point other than it brought me great joy. Its great to see Hunter finally getting some goals for his hard work, although seeing his hard nosed brand of hockey just reminds me of the disappointment I felt this Summer when we couldn't nail down a longer term contract prior to arbitration. Garth Snow will be an extremely busy individual once our season ends (hopefully in June sometime). I enjoyed Sutton's play as well... clearing traffic in front of DP and nearly sending Petr Prucha onto Hempstead Turnpike with an attempted hip check.

I want to take a moment to say hello to a loyal Islander fan out there, AZS. We don't know each other, but if I ever run into you at the arena, this round is on me. And while wearing a Potvin jersey...priceless.

Have a great weekend guys, and Go Isles!


Tonight, in a game that could not have been scripted any better, the Islander players, fans, coaching staff, and hall of fame alumni came together to win one more game for the legendary Al Arbour.

As the Islanders came back from a two goal deficit thanks to goals by Hunter and Satan one could not help but notice the utter joy expressed by Ted Nolan as he uncharacteristically let his emotion show behind the bench. It is apparent, however, that his joy was not for himself or for his team, but instead for head coach Al Arbour. As fulfilling as it was to see Coach Arbour smile and celebrate after each Islander goal, it was just as fulfilling to see the appreciation of his joy expressed by Nolan and his players. As Ted Nolan said during the post game press conference, Al Arbour may not have known all the players on the Islander roster this morning, but they sure knew who he was. The deference shown to Arbour by this New York Islander team dispelled the belief that many modern hockey players are not appreciative of the sport's past. That view does not apply to the inhabitants of the Islander locker room.

It is so difficult to write about an evening like this, as the game and its aftermath wrote its own story. I have never teared up when watching a hockey game until tonight. Seeing the video played after the game with touching pictures of Arbour from his earliest days as an Islander coach was overwhelming. When the music played and the shots of Arbour with a young Denis Potvin, and Arbour hugging Mike Bossy after the Isles won their first cup were shown on the jumbo screen, several current Islanders could not hold back their emotions. And as the Islanders prepared to raise the "1500" banner to the rafters tonight chants of "740" thundered down from the ol' barn. The atmosphere was so intimate, so special.

Ted Nolan, and the New York Islander organization as a whole deserve to be highly lauded. They showed great vision in coming up with this idea and great respect, professionalism, and competence in executing the practices, media relations and most notably the wonderful post game ceremony. The sellout crowd was an integral part in this evening as well, as the fans pulled the Isles through this comeback before staying to make the post game ceremony as memorable as it was. There is only one word that can be used to describe tonight. Beautiful.

Al Arbour, one of the most successful coaches in all of professional sports walked off the ice for the last time as an NHL coach tonight. He did not walk alone. He was surrounded by his loved ones, his players from the dynasty years, Ted Nolan, and the current New York Islander team. He will always be a legend, and he will always be an Islander.

He will never walk alone.

A Night to Remember

On the night when the Isles honored journeyman Mike Sillinger for becoming the 6th Islander to reach the 1000 game milestone, the 'yet to win on the road 'Lightning came to the Coliseum attempting to improve upon their disappointing visit to the NYC metro area. They already lost to the Devils and rangers while being outscored 9-2 in those two match ups.

Congrats to Mike Sillinger, who received the accolades of the Islander team and organization for doing what so few have done, namely survive 1000 games in this league. The Isles really seemed to take the bull by the horns with respect to getting fans to this game and preparing a fitting pre-game ceremony, which is commendable.

Anyone else get a little anxiety when MAB and Sutton are playing in their own end? That's not to say they both don't bring something to the table (Sutton for example can do a great job of clearing bodies from in front of DP and MAB has a devastating, if not unpredictable slap shot), but to me they seem to be our weakest pairing when speaking strictly defensively. Sutton's skating out of position tonight almost cost us a goal in the first, if not for DP's highlight reel save on Hlavic. Furthermore, Sutton's puck handling in his zone tends to deteriorate noticeably when under pressure. While Bergeron's previous defensive shortcomings have been well documented, Sutton has room for improvement.

Lets give some credit to Chris Campoli for a nice play in the neutral zone that sprung Vasicek, Park and Satan and lead to the second goal. (And to think how unsure Campoli's standing was on this team in late September). Its also nice to see Hunter get a nice tally in the third for his second on the season. And oh, by the way, congratulations DP on your twelfth career shutout!

I've go to cut this short as we're in the middle of packing for our move next week and I can't find any of my socks. Have a great night, go Isles, and happy birthday Mr. Al Arbour.

Hide the women and children- this one was ugly

As I drove through midtown on my trek from New Jersey to Uniondale tonight I had Bush and Sponge blaring in my car. There aren't many other places I want to be on a Saturday night than the Coliseum for an Islander game. So as I deftly avoided brave traffic crossing pedestrians (including Ranger and Leaf fans on the way to the garden in Manhattan), I was about as happy as I generally get. Little did I know that I would be equally somber about 3 hours later.

If you were fortunate enough to miss tonight's game, here's a quick recap. The Isles lost 8-3 to the Canes in a game that wasn't even that close. For those of us who were wondering, the week long delay from their last game did not work in their favor. Campoli took an unnecessary 2 minute delay of game call that led to a Cane goal in the first. DiPietro coughed up the puck behind the net which cost the Isles a goal, also in the first. The Isles were getting beat to pucks, and allowed Cane forwards to march straight up the middle of the ice, which left DP, and subsequently Dubie nearly helpless. DP got benched for Dubie, and Nolan shuffled all lines save for Vasicek's. Brind'Amor had a hat trick, and the police on hand for Law Enforcement Night were able to prevent any Islander fans from attempting to jump from the rafters.

I've always wondered what beat writers ask goalies like DP after games like this. And tonight, I found out. One beat writer (I am unsure of his identity, although I think he may have been filling in for Logan at Newsday) asked the first question of DP. "What happened?" to which Rick responded "what do you mean 'what happened'?", to which the beat writer simply stated "the game". This little exchange might have been amusing under different circumstances.

DP, Guerin, and Sillinger were presented to the press and none gave excuses, even after they were asked several times about the extensive time off between games. Guerin did indicate that they lost the game due to mental errors, not physical shortcomings, implying that a lack of rest was clearly not at fault here. Coach Nolan (and I'm paraphrasing here) stated that that a week off from hockey can either work for you, or against you, and that tonight it worked against them. He also mentioned that extended time off is never good for a goalie. Unfortunately for Rick, he got more time off during tonight's game.

The Isles are professionals after all, though, and they know better than anyone that you just have to put these games behind you and forget them. Rick is one of the elite goalies in the league, and even the elites have their nights.

Its 76 degrees out and the Isles are not playing hockey

And no, its not July.

There's an article in today's NY Times suggesting that this October may go on to be one of the warmest on record in NY. October temps typically range from the 40's though 60's and on October 22, we reached 76 degrees. Although such a meteorological anomaly is attributed to a quirk in the northern jet stream, it assuredly is a story that Al Gore will enjoy. For hockey fans however, it typically means horrendous ice conditions, which we have seen.

Myself and another fellow Islander fan co-worker treated ourselves on Monday by going to the and examining league statistics (I recommend any Islander fan do the same as its quite enjoyable). The Isles are first in the league in PP% and second in PK%. Coach Nolan is directing much credit to assistant coaches Gerard Gallant and John Chabot for preparing the special teams so well in camp. Although its early, it is very encouraging to see so many new faces (especially on the power play) gelling so well, so quickly. Lets hope that the PP can continue to succeed in the absence of Bryan Berard (groin 2-4 weeks). I gather this will be Bergeron's opportunity to get out of Chateau Bow Bow (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly).

Greg Logan is reporting in his blog that Montreal may be offering Alexei Kovalev for Satan. Thanks, but no thanks, Habs. I think Kovalev is a little past his prime and that Satan will improve with Bergenheim on his line now. Plus, I have a suspicion that Alexei wouldn't fit here. No need to screw with the team chemistry for this trade.

Have a good week, and if you're like me, you can't wait for colder weather and Islander hockey.

Quick Notes on the Caps Game

I'm heading off to York PA this weekend so I wanted to post something before I hit the road.

Obviously much credit is to be given to Guerin, and it is well deserved. If you watched last night's skate, however, you know what an amazing game Campoli played. Four assists on offense, drawing penalties, and doing so many little things right. The local papers don't mention him today, but he is do praise. And of course, DP helped us weather the Cap onslaught and give us a chance to win.

A plea to James Dolan- can you give the Devils a shot on the TV guide channel? Admittedly, we don't have the biggest fan base in the metro area, but we don't have the smallest either. At least mix it up a little.

As I head out on my long journey tonight, I can smile thinking of the Isles performance before the Congressional Subcommittee on Line changes and Surprise 4th line forwards.

It feels nice to win in DC again.

I'm Christie Brinkley and I'm an Islander

Seeing as Islander hockey has disappeared for a few days, I've found myself periodically staring at the Islander 07- 08 magnetic schedule provided on opening night by the good folks at Global Real Estate Services. And what a strange schedule it is. The Isles have only 3 games on tap from the period of October 13th through the 31st. For enjoying such a relaxing October they are punished by 13 (by my count) pairs of back to back games commencing in November. If the thought of that doesn't get you exhausted consider the final 8 games of the year are against Atlantic Division rivals. Of course, the season closes with a home and home against the Rangers. These guys will need a rest at season's end, but hopefully it will be a brief one before the start of playoff hockey.

As a fan of any contact sport, you know injuries are part of the game. You grow to expect them. What you don't expect, however, is to lose your first UFA signing of the Summer for the whole season after an injury sustained on opening night. While I still do not understand the cause of the injury (there have been rumors that it had existed previously in a lesser form and that poor ice conditions may have done him in, or perhaps that he simply sustained damaging contact to his knee), it is very deflating news. He had 17 goals with Atlanta last season and many were hopeful that under Coach Nolan he could have achieved more. Plus, I thought he was a good fit with Hunter and Sillinger, who now find themselves with a familiar winger in Hilbert. Not being able to see the potential that GM Garth Snow saw in Sim will bother me this year.

I think the line combinations as they were played in Philly are about right given the players we currently have healthy and playing. Again, I like Hilbert on the third line with his old line mates while Vasicek, Satan and Bergenheim can concentrate on scoring. And speaking of this line, Miro has to start lighting the lamp soon as I just can't see the Isles excelling without a guy like him contributing offensively. A lot happened this Summer and many fans, myself included, made the argument that we made some serious headway in gaining back much of the scoring we lost on 7/1 (111 goals by Greg Logan's count in Newsday). Remember though, we made the playoffs by the slimmest of margins last year. Just getting back to last year's scoring level is not enough. I truly think we can play better defensively, that Nolan now enjoys an improved understanding of this team, and that the chemistry of the Isles is vastly improved. And that is all very encouraging. That said, however, if our goal scorers don't score, we're in for a long season.

Apologies for the misleading subject, and thanks for reading.

Why I'll never be an NHL Coach

I would have sat Bergeron and played Bootland tonight. Its that simple. Figuring on a typical restive Isle-Ranger affair I would have thought we needed Bootland's muscle against Holweg and company. After all, we were fortunate enough to interview Darryl after the loss to the Caps on Monday and he was itchin to get into this game. You can tell the guy loves to fight, and seeing as his right arm resembles my left leg in size, he seemed like a sure thing to skate tonight. Of course had I been coach, we very well may have lost this game.

I thought Berard was a little rusty in his own end but hey, he scored in his first game back against the blueshirts! And besides, we knew when we signed him we weren't getting the guy for his plus minus ratio, but rather to play Chad Pennington on our man advantage situations. I do hope he succeeds for us this year but add him to the growing list of players who will become UFA's next summer.

Did Jaromir Jagr play tonight? Tough to tell. Witt did that good of a job being all over him.

An obvious suggestion to the Rangers would be that they consider improving their their 0 for 14 season power play conversion percentage if they plan on applying for that parade permit in June.

On a final note, my DVR lost the final two minutes of the game, so if there were any ice girl incidents or goalie fights, by all means, drop me a line.

Great game Isles, great game DP.

And now, its time for a little celebratory Halo 3, followed by sleep.

The NHL from behind the Scenes

Typically, I would talk about the results of the Islander home opener and provide some analysis. However, from a fan's perspective, there is a bigger story here. As we are are the initial Islander blog box writers we were all given press passes to cover the game. The passes gave us unprecedented access to the players, Islander Management, and beat writers along with a trip to the Isles locker room immediately after the game. From the perspective of a fan, the atmosphere was intoxicating, and I want to do my best to convey the experience.

First, the seating. Upon entering the arena via the media entrance, we were directed to a large table directly behind the seats in section 201. Media guides were given to all. Tall wooden chairs were provided which were similar to bar stools. Mine was precariously placed about 2 inches away from the edge of the elevated platform upon which our table was situated. One sudden move on my part and I could have been blogging from a hospital. The view, however, from this vantage point was wonderful and vastly improved from the one I would typically be able to enjoy.

I'm going to skip immediately to the end of the game as this is where the experience really gets interesting. After the final horn cemented an Islander win, we were escorted to the Islander locker room area by a woman from the Islander staff. As thousands of fans make the slow pilgrimage out of the arena like salmon we were in the unfamiliar position of going against the tide. A line of twelve bloggers with press passes attached to their necks by strings snaked its way through a third of the coliseum to finally arrive near the locker room. Islander Media Relations VP Chris Botta directed us to the room where press conferences are held.

The room may have been a converted locker room facility. Countless blue and black wires likely used by TV and media personnel lay unused in a corner of the room, and many of us joked about the fire hazard this possibly presented. There was a podium, where Ted was to speak, and behind it hung a blue curtain with the Islander crest and the Allstate symbol placed symmetrically across it. The curtain was taped to a wall with black electrical tape and was almost imperceptibly uneven.

Chris Botta brought in Chris Campoli for us to interview. He stood, facing 12 bloggers while wearing blue sweats, a blue long sleeved athletic shirt, and porous black moccasins. After overcoming initial reticence, we began asking him questions about the seemingly continuous poor treatment of the team from referees, his perspective on the new jerseys, his thoughts about the uncertainty of Berard hanging over a seemingly cohesive team, and his confidence looking ahead to the rest of the season after already contributing so much offensively in the first 2 games.

In short, he said he likes the new jerseys and thus far has not needed to change during games, that Berard is still unsigned and in any event he simply gets paid to play the game and that was what he was going to continue to do, and he deftly avoiding getting himself into any trouble with the league by stating "not every call is going to go your way, and tonight none went our way. That's just the way it works". He further added that the Isles took some undisciplined penalties and frankly have to play smarter in the future. As far as his outlook toward the rest of the season (considering his great offensive showing thus far) he indicated that he wants to continue to create odd man rushes and get involved in the offense without putting his defensive responsibilities at risk. Over all, Chris was affable, and accommodating.

Although we did not have an opportunity to interview Ted Nolan, we were allowed to sit in on his press conference. (The whole conference can be viewed on IslanderTV). The tone and volume of the words spoken between Ted Nolan and the Isle beat writers are similar to that which can be heard at a funeral. The grave air that pervades these conferences cannot be appreciated by watching them on television.

Its hard to convey everything that was going on around us during this time near the locker room. Islander players walking towards the showers wearing only a towel and joking "there's no women in there, right?", Rick DiPietro working on an exercise bike only 6 feet from us as equipment men from both squads carried out heavy bags of sticks, forcing us to stand virtually flat against the wall. We saw Vasicek, Dubielewicz, MAB, Sutton, Martinek, and Comrie all dressed impeccably in pinstripe suits and sport jackets as they left the dressing room. Perhaps the most memorable, however, was seeing Bredan Witt carrying his daughter while leaving the arena with his family. How effortlessly he made the transition from NHL tough man to father.

As we were getting ready to leave, Chris Botta introduced us to Islander correspondent Deb Kaufman, who was extremely gracious. She greeted us like an aunt who you only see on Christmas; she somehow conveyed that familiarity to all of us.

We received unprecedented access tonight to an NHL game from behind the scenes. It was an experience that every hockey fan should be fortunate to have. That being said, its now time to get back to the task at hand of giving the readers of our blogs an inside look into the happenings of our team.

Season Opener- Isles win in a Barnburner

Well, if you were looking for a little old school NJ Devil type trap hockey, this was not the game for you.

My thoughts:

Play of the Game- for me, it's DP's highlight reel save in the first few minutes of period 1 stealing a goal from Vanek and additional momentum from the Sabres. Had Vanek scored there, who knows if we come back and win that game. Its often taken for granted, but we are very lucky to have 39 in our crease.

Ten Points for our number one line! Loved Comrie's play and two goals, especially the breakaway in the second. He played with a strong determination to find the net. As for his line mates, Tank was outstanding with a goal and 2 assists and Guerin with 3 assists. Did Nolan not feed these guys for a week? It gives us a lot to be excited about when our top line produces so well so early.

Sutton made some mistakes tonight, getting beat to pucks, being out of position and going to the box with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd. Its our first night, and I'm sure he'll get where he has to be. Plus he did deliver a couple strong hits.

Brendan Witt- what can you say about his guy except that he earns his paycheck. He is continuing where he left off last year by blocking shots, while agitating many he encounters. Our best D-man tonight.

Liked the play of Vasicek's line, although I feel as if it would have been much more of an offensive threat with Tambellini in there. I know Nolan wants Hilbert's defensive abilities but I felt the lack of a stronger scoring threat from left wing hurt the line.

Power play- I'm just postulating here, so bear with me, but if the Isles continue this 75% power play percentage I think we may just surprise some people this year. All kidding aside, I am thoroughly taken aback that this power play performed so well in the first night of the season.
Power play chemistry takes time, and constant re-working. Credit is due to the coaching staff and the players for having the special teams at the level they were at tonight.

Final thoughts- as a fan you have to be very happy that so many of our new faces got involved in a big team win tonight. There already seems to be notable chemistry and grit for a team that came back on the road and beat the Sabres in front of a raucous opening night crowd. Its very early, but if last night was any indication of this season, we just may surprise again.

And for words I've been waiting to say all year, I'll see you at the opener tonight!

Apparently, Glen Sather is saving Hockey

Here we go again. Its early Fall and we're already starting to hear the the rumblings. The NHL needs the New York Rangers to win a Cup. Take, for example, Lindsay Berra's recent piece from ESPN the Magazine, "Two for the Show" (referring to new Rangers Scott Gomez and Chris Drury). This is one example of universally positive Ranger coverage prior to the start of the 07-08 season. After reading Berra's article, you would not have thought a more harmonious pair of free agents had ever been signed by an NHL club.

Here's a quote from the article:

"Although league officials would rather eat a puck than admit to rooting for the red, white and blue, a successful Rangers Cup run would thrust hockey back into the spotlight in the biggest media market in the world at just the right time."

I have some difficulty with this statement. For starters, instead of secretly pulling for the Rangers, shouldn't NHL brass be doing something proactive to fix the current state of the sport? Perhaps they might revisit some of the monumental decisions they've made in the recent decade. There are a growing number of teams that may very well be hosting their opening night games in cities where temperatures may exceed ninety degrees. If NHL exec's are unhappy with the fact that several of these teams have hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup in recent years while overall interest in the sport has waned they may want to consider their contraction. Additionally, they may look back at their tacit approval of horribly boring trap hockey that they allowed to proliferate without limit in the mid to late 90's. Yes, there have been rule changes enacted after the lockout that have helped improve the pace of the game, but whether or not its too little, too late, is a matter of debate.

Berra continues the theme by touting the ratings of the NY Rangers Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 in '94, as well as the state of the sport in its wake. What she neglects to mention is the fact that the Rangers second round playoff game last year which aired on NBC on a weekend afternoon was beaten in the ratings by both Yankee and Met regular season games played on the same day. That's not a knock against the Rangers, but rather an observation of the sport as a whole.

The league waiting for the Rangers to win a Stanley Cup is the least proactive, and likely least productive way to improve the popularity of the sport. If you disagree, feel free to pick up your new Gomez jersey and enjoy the red and blue kool-aid.

The Writing is on the Wall for Berard

As I've followed the Isles through camp via the Islander site and Newsday, one player has been noticeably absent in the coverage. While guys like Tambellini, Bergenheim, Meyer, Comeau, Sutton and Sim, for example, have received attention, Bryan Berard has played the part of Colonel Kurtz. He's out there somewhere, but good luck finding him.
I, along with seemingly myriad other Islander fans reacted positively to the news that Berard would be invited to camp this year. Looking past the fact that he was a minus 57 in the last 3 years combined (as reported in Evan Grossman's blog), the ability to stir up offense and nostalgia generated enthusiasm.
However, if you read between the lines of the Islander post from a few days ago "The battle for the blue line heats up", the enthusiasm may fade into reality. The Isles speak of the 4 probable sure things on D, namely Witt, Sutton, Martinek and Bergeron. Fighting for the final 2 spots are Meyer, Berard, Campoli, Gervais and Johnson (who by the way is the only D-Man besides Gervais with a 2 way contract). So here's how I see it. Gervais and Campoli have shown too much development and promise- they stay and comprise the final pairing. Nolan will, by his own admission, dress 7 to start. That leaves the door open for Meyer. Johnson to Bridgeport and Berard, well, Berard is the odd man out.
I do not know what they are seeing in Berard that is causing their apathetic coverage of his play, but I'm guessing he may be a step behind as he is recovering from injuries and consequently a lack of ice time.
The Isles, effectively admitting the odds are a little stacked against Bryan, wrote "Berard will be given a fair opportunity to prove he can be a contributor before camp is over". Although I would have loved seeing the Riverboat gambler back in an Islander uniform, that tepid statement speaks volumes against its happening.

Comrie, Cairns and...Strahan?

Its nice to hear that newly acquired center Mike Comrie is having a good start to camp in Moncton by tallying a hat trick this week in scrimmage. Although it is a little too early to get terribly exited about such accomplishments, it is an encouraging thought that he might me developing some chemistry with probable line mates Guerin and Tank. As far as lines 2- 4, Nolan will be busy determining how guys like Hilbert, Simon, Tambellini and Sim, amongst others, will fit in support of centers Vasicek, Sillinger and Park. Similarly, Nolan will be experimenting with his defensive pairings while ensuring there is good communication between DP and his D-Men. Its exciting to talk about line combinations now, although a little premature as the ups and downs of a typical hockey season will force Nolan to mix things up occasionally, plus there's always the constant unknown of injuries. But most importantly, it is only the beginning of camp.

Chris Botta is reporting in his blog that GM Garth Snow has invited former Isle D-Man and certified pugilist Eric Cairns to camp in a supporting role. I met Eric many years ago with Mark Parrish at an Islander skills competition and he looked like one of the most intimidating hockey players I have ever seen. However, anyone following the Isles in recent years will know what a big heart the guy had. He always took great pride in sticking up for his teammates, and served an invaluable role for the team. It is great to see him involved with Islander hockey, as he was, and will always be, a fan favorite.

Finally, in an unrelated note, my wife and I were in a mall in New Jersey this Saturday. We walked into a high end store (translation - a store with terribly expensive designer bags that I couldn't afford to buy for my wife in a million years) when NY Giant Michael Strahan walked in. He seemed like an affable guy, and no one bothered him. I am a Jet fan, but as I've become partial to living, I avoided a confrontation.

Have a good week, and enjoy the developments from Moncton.

The Quiet Times

Aside from the invitation to training camp extended to Bryan Berard and the fact that 07-08 tickets go on sale this Saturday, Islander hockey news has slowed from from a crawl to a near collapse as of late. It's just that time of the year.
Fans are therefore encouraged to occupy their time in other areas. So as the heat begins to break, I (along with countless other hockey fans) will pursue some of my other passions. My highlight of this past Labor Day weekend was the fishing trip I embarked on with family and friends off Orient Point. We hauled in our limit of stripers east of Plum Island (the same made famous by author Nelson DeMille). This weekend my TV will be tuned to the Jets- Pats opener. In addition to a victory by Gang Green, I'll be hoping Pennington survives game 1 unscathed in the wake of Pete Kendall's departure. I'm similarly looking forward to rounding up a sizable crew for a trip to the Land of Meadows this Fall, likely for a game against the fins or the bills.
The rest of the weekend will be devoted to watching the Shield and perhaps a little Entourage, while hoping some giving soul may be inclined to buy an XBOX 360 for my birthday (Halo 3, anyone?).
I'll indulge in these activities only for a while because after all, opening night is less than a month away.


OK. So I blocked time to write my blog tonight. I made sure I had the place to myself, with all other social and non-blog responsibilities out of the way. It was time to address the recent additions of Andy Sutton and Josef Vasicek. That was the plan, that is, until the news broke. The new jerseys had arrived.
First I thought it was interesting how much attention was devoted to this introduction on the Islander site. If the Isles traded Sparky the Dragon, 2 ice girls, and a future 3rd round draft pick for Sydney Crosby I think it would have gotten less play. But I guess when the look of the franchise changes in such a dramatic way, it should be announced with some measure of fanfare.
As for the jerseys themselves, it will take some getting used to. First, the shortcomings. The old school tie at the collar of the jersey feels somewhat incongruous on an otherwise modern look. Secondly, the orange is a little intense (is orange ever not intense?), although its an improvement over our former alternate 3rd jersey. Overall, I'll concede that it may be perceived as a little busy. Now for the pros. The sleeker look and supposed semi water repellent material are pluses. Secondly, while I realize that some might disagree with me here, the number on the front is a nice touch. In time I believe many more teams will sport that look and that our fans will grow to appreciate it. And finally, and most importantly, the players seem to like it. The Isles are saying that jersey design was a very collaborative effort, and given the unpleasantness we have seen with past sweater offerings, this was absolutely the right approach.
So that leaves me with a very difficult question. Will I buy one? Let me phrase it this way. If my wife found out I spent $210 on another Islander jersey, I would be sleeping on the couch and eating frosted flakes for dinner for at least a week. That being said, I'll probably go with a replica.

Defense, but at what cost?

I can see it now. Bryan McCabe, sporting an Islander jersey contributes about ten goals and 20 assists while providing some much needed "D" for our team. Only problem is, what I see is my memories of the 96/97 season, and not a crystal ball into 07/08.
There has been a great deal of speculation by many Islander fans that McCabe could be the guy to fill our needs at the blue line. Clearly, his stats from last season indicate that he can contribute all-star quality offensive support (if not defensive). However, it would come at a price. For one, we would be picking up a cap hit of almost 22 million over 4 years while taking on a contract littered with booby traps (incentives). For extending the courtesy of allowing the Leafs to get out of his contract and win some cap room, we would have to part with player (s). And realistically, are we in a position to trade what we have? Sure, since early Summer much has been done to improve the team and help mitigate the losses endured on July 1st. But if we are seeking a) McCabe b) prospect (s)/ future pick(s) and possibly even c) Toronto eating part of McCabe's contract, it will cost us. And cost us too heavily. Campoli's name has been mentioned, but that would be like taking a step forward, and another back. And if we were to make a weaker offering, Toronto will walk, given what Snow would be seeking in return.
The need is there. We have to have another quality defenseman to be competitive this year. I think it is more likely that concessions are made and a guy like Markov is signed than everything falling into place perfectly to make the McCabe deal feasible. Plus, they already got Blake from us, there's no way I'd help the Leafs again.
In summary, I don't see Wang letting us go into the season without filling this void, but Snow will earn his salary figuring out how.

The Key Dates

After having about a month to digest the upcoming schedule, I’ve compiled some must see dates, otherwise known as the nights before the mornings I will be calling in sick at work. In no particular order:

11/16/07 So let me get this straight, the Islanders take on the Devils in New Jersey and I will not be getting on a port authority bus bound for “The Land of Meadows”. Instead, we’ll all be taking the PATH train to Newark to see our neutral zone trap loving rivals. That will take some getting used to. Although this is not our building, it will be exciting to see the Isles play in a new local arena. I believe the building will help the Devils improve their attendance for a year to a year and a half and guarantee a better atmosphere than Continental. Look, however, for attendance to wane as the new car smell of the arena fades.

10/11/07 Isles at Leafs. Jason Blake is really the only departing free agent I will have difficulty getting used to seeing in another jersey. If any of you saw the press conference introducing him in Toronto, you would have noticed that his jersey seemed way too large for him. Is this some sort indication of how he will fill expectations in Toronto? Only time will tell. I do know that given the contract he received 20-25 goals a season may be considered underachieving. And Toronto is one of the last places a hockey player wants to underachieve. I thought he was a good player, and seemed like a likable person. I wish him and his family the best.

2/5/08 Stanley Cup defending champs at NYI. We will see the defending champs, and at the same time a team we very rarely play, in one night. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks handle the post Cup season letdown that has afflicted other teams in the past. See Carolina Hurricanes.

11/3/07 Al Arbour Night. If you told me Al Arbour was flying in from Canada to coach the NY Dragons, I would be tail-gaiting by late morning. This, to me, is the must game to attend this season. There’s too much to write here, so look for a separate post as 11/3 approaches.

Some general notes. The eight games against the Rangers are heavily weighted to the beginning and end of the season. I know some have complained about this scheduling. I am more concerned with the frequency for which we play them (along with all divisional rivals), than the timing. Eight games is simply too much. I feel it weakens the intensity when you see a team so many times. You know something’s wrong when you hear a fan incredulously ask “The Flyers…again?” A final observation, look for a potentially grinding Spring, as from March 21st through the end of the season, its all Atlantic Division games.


I don’t remember the year. I’m guessing it was 1985 when my uncle took me and my two cousins to our first Islander game. The Isles beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2, and there was a fair amount of organ music playing throughout the game. That’s all I remember, but what I remembered is unimportant. What really matters is that I became an Islander fan that night.
I grew up in Queens, NY attended college upstate, and lived in New York City during most of my twenties. I follow the Jets, but by far my true passion has always been New York Islander Hockey. My favorite memories as a fan were attending two of Isles-Leafs playoff games in 2002, while watching the third at a pub with friends in Hell’s Kitchen. The intensity in the arena was overwhelming as the fans voiced their hungry support of a resurgent Islander club. Although we didn’t pull it out in the end, the Coliseum earned the reputation as one of the most intimidating buildings to have to visit come playoff time. My favorite all time Islander is Denis Potvin. Yeah, I was only a toddler when he was leading the Isles through the dynasty years, and I was way too young to ever remember having seen him play, but it doesn’t matter. You didn’t have to see him play to know what the man was about.
I am 30 years old, work in NYC in a finance job and currently live in Hudson County, NJ with my wife. It’s my day job that pays the bills, but the idea of working in the NHL in any capacity is my dream. The Isles’ giving me the opportunity to write this blog is the closest I’ve ever gotten to living it.