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.