Final Post

I guess when you look at this simply, my career as an Islander blogger will end just as it began one year ago, following a fishing trip. Last year, the excursion was out of Orient Point, east of Plum Island, gunning for stripers. Last week, another Captain brought us back into the Sound, this time well north of Greenwich, Connecticut. We hit a bluefish feeding frenzy which made the one and a half journey out of New Rochelle well worth the hike. The rain fell without remorse as a ravenous bluefish hit my jig one out of every three times it hit the water.

This past year blogging amongst the other founding members of the blog box brought with it too many memories to relive in one post. But I'll hit on a few I hold dear. Like the time in February I went to Hooters on Hempstead turnpike for a drink after a game with fellow bloggers, Tom from the Tiger Track and Mike from Islesblogger, and had to order a glass of red wine from the waitress because I had given up beer for Lent. Red wine at Hooters. I don't know if I can ever repair my reputation in that place.

Then there was the night in the locker room after a game when during a player interview Richard Park's shoulder pads dripped sweat on and ice water on my head. I didn't think anyone noticed my situation, until the following week Ken Rosenblatt from Islander's Outsider remarked "Jim, I wish you could have seen your face when that sweat was dripping on you from Park's pads". I wish I could have too.

As I said, there are countless other stories I could touch on, but the theme remains the same. What really made this experience remarkable for me was the friends I made amongst my fellow founding members of the blog box. The ability to attend many home games and have semi press access will not surpass in fondness the memory of carefree exchanges with my friends in the blog box during game intermissions, over drinks, or at an Islander event.

I am moving on from the New York Islander Blog Box because I do not feel I currently have the time required to do this thing right. This is primarily due to work and personal commitments. Can I watch the games and write a good post at least weekly? Sure. But can I find the time to read all my fellow blogger's posts and comment on their unique and impassioned viewpoints? Sometimes. And sometimes is not good enough. They deserve better, as does the vision of the blog box as a whole. While I love my Islanders, and I love to write, its time to give someone else a shot at this.

To the Islanders, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks. Everyone, from Charles Wang, Garth Snow, Ted Nolan, Chris Botta, and Corey Witt through the Islander players took a very big risk with this thing. They enabled a group of dedicated fans to take the love of their team to the next level and generate greater exposure for the organization. In time, I believe the Islanders will be viewed as having had great vision with the Blog Box. I also believe this little experiment demonstrated their commitment to the first amendment. Never once was I contacted about content or my viewpoints. Never.

As far as my parting thoughts on the team and its future? Pretty simple. One- they are on the right track rebuilding. The '08 draft strategy will take a few years to assess, but good decisions by management through this development period can create a contender in 3-5 years. Two- The jerseys have to go. Return to the royal blue of the mid eighties. I wrote at some length about this back in May- keep it simple and restore seriousness and nostalgia back to this franchise. Finally- they need a new building. Period. If the Lighthouse Project fails, we'll be getting fitted for Hamilton jerseys. New building + new jerseys = new era.

If any of you guys ever want to keep in touch, just drop me a comment and I'll get back to you. I'll keep this open so when anything big happens (Lunqvist ice girl incidents, Isles promote Sillinger to assistant GM, etc.), I can opine. Thank you all for reading and supporting this blog!

As for me, I'll be working, fishing, firing up the 360 for Fallout 3, and keeping up with my favorite Fall pastime of all...

I'll go on being a Potvin loving, blue bleedin' Islander fan.

And they'll bury me that way.

Right Man, Wrong Team

After the Islander home opener in October, I stood with my fellow bloggers in the midst of about a dozen credentialed journalists such as Greg Logan and Dan Martin in a small room near the Islander locker room. A podium stood in the center of the room, and a blue curtain with Islander and Allstate logos hung on the wall behind it. Against a wall to the left, catty corner to the shower stall, electrical wires of various colors lay on the floor.

The chatter amongst the beat writers ceased immediately when a rear door opened. Quietly, Ted Nolan, led by then VP of Media and Communications Chris Botta, approached the podium. Nolan, wearing a dark suit, perhaps navy, stood over six feet tall. He was an imposing figure. There was a moment of silence before Greg Logan approached with his first question. A few minutes later, after a brief silence Botta asked "that it guys?", and then it was all over. Nolan left, taking the same route as he had on the way in. And there ended my first exposure to the man.

One year ago, the thought of attending opening night for the 08-09 season with someone other than Ted Nolan at the helm of the Islanders would have seemed unimaginable. Yet, here we are again. Another Summer, another PR disaster. Another reason for Islander fans to endure abuse from those affiliated with other local hockey clubs.

The Islanders absolutely had to make this work. The organization could ill afford another blow to its reputation. Separating with a very popular and talented coach should never have been an option. Snow and Wang should have addressed their issues with Nolan, while expressing confidence in his ability to coach this team. The magnanimous approach would have been the appropriate one.

While we can fault all parties for missteps, some of the blame placed on Nolan is not justified. You coach what Nolan had in the Spring and see how many times you utter "you have to do the best with the players you have". I bet it would slip from your mouth once or twice. And Nolan played too defensive of a style toward the end? Alternatively, would you preferred to have seen the Isles lose 8-0 at home to the rangers? Would that have been good for youth development and instilling confidence in the likes of Kyle Okposo?

Sure, Nolan didn't fit in with the organization's vision. Either did Neil Smith. Do you sense a pattern?

One opening night, this year, or perhaps next, hockey fans of another team will be watching Ted Nolan's tall frame walk with confidence as he approaches his podium. There might be a few more journalists, or fewer bloggers and less electrical wiring in their room. But there will be a special coach, a player's coach, whose time to shine may have finally arrived.

Goodbye Ted. You'll be missed.

"She got me a Witter"

I am sitting in my living room having recently returned from a full day fishing trip out on the LI Sound. I am sun burnt on the right side of my left forearm, and I have those awful lines on my head from the sunglasses. So if I go to work Monday wearing a long sleeve shirt and sunglasses I'll look perfectly normal.

My buddy nailed two sizable blues, while I simply returned with the joy of knowing "I caught a few bud lights". And fortunately, we returned from a trip during which our sharp toothed predator friends didn't maim any fishermen as they flopped around on deck. So all in all, it was a good day.

The contract extension offered to expert surfer and renowned shark hunter Brendan Witt this week reminds me of a story from Christmas. An Islander Holiday tale. My buddy at work came over to my desk the first business day after Christmas and simply smiled. He said "my girlfriend got me a jersey for Christmas", and then he paused briefly, "she got me a Witter". What better gift can any red blooded Islander fan ask for? Brendan Witt is a monster. His leadership is invaluable. His toughness is unassailable. Some games it seems he takes more pucks off his ankles that DP takes off his leg pads. And fans love him for that.

So thankfully, Snow realized all of this and got us a "Witter" for another 2 years. Two more terrorizing ranger forwards.

Christmas in July.

(Editor's note- I am going to post an entry from earlier in the year about Brendan Witt. I received some nice feedback from it, so I am going to re post it now. The timing is right. Enjoy!)

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"

A Bailey, with ice please


Like most of you out there in Islander Country, I found myself eagerly reading each of Logan's recent posts which discussed the Islander's myriad options for tonight. What I do not remember reading was a scenario where the Isles would trade down twice and select Josh Bailey. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, but I'm just trying to get my thoughts around what happened tonight.

As speculation swirled today I thought back to number 5 in '72. The draft pick, a defenseman, upon whom our dynasty was built. I came into this draft hoping to secure a solid d'man you could QB the powerplay. Contenders are cornered around such individuals. The possibility of trading up to LA's pick and acquiring Bogosian or Doughty intrigued me. However, it was not meant to be.

My initial reaction to Snow's moves was disappointment. A top 5 pick is exciting, and its an opportunity to put people in the seats. It was the silver lining this April. Was this truly, however, an opportunity lost?

If this draft is a strong as they say, then having the 9th , 40th , and possibly 60th pick could yield strong dividends. If nothing else, it shows a commitment on Snow's part to develop a young team into a contender down the road. There have been a few bananas out there that have suggested Snow's moves were Miburyesque. If that were so, we would have picked up McCabe and taken his curse of a contract off the Leafs hands. No.

Snow had a plan, and he executed it. This was not, I believe, an impulsive decision. Snow saw something in this center, and he went for it. And in doing so, he added some picks that can help him fill some of the other holes the Isles have.

Only time will tell if this was a brilliant draft, or an unmitigated disaster.

I am going to have a beer and mull it over. Until then, I stand behind the man who broke his ass preparing for this draft and navigating infinitely complex scenarios to do what he felt was best for this organization. I stand behind Garth Snow.

And in this corner...

I am sitting here on my couch, having recently returned from my vacation, watching the Ultimate Warrior wrestle Bobby the Brain Heenan on MSG classics. The Brain is comically dressed in Andre the Giant like black tights as he unveils a hidden pair of brass knuckles. If he loses, he will be stuffed into a furry weasel outfit. Frankly, I feel this is a terrible mismatch. Poor Brain.

The One Man Gang just lost to Hacksaw Jim Duggan before the Warrior/Heenan match and Lord Alfred Hayes is speculating that Slick's job could be in jeopardy. And we think Baseball managers have it tough?

The Million Dollar Man will take part in tonight's main event. Talk about a guy who has it all. Good head of hair, lots of money, confidence, a Summer home in Hyannis Port, Mass., fancy gold tuxedos. What more could any woman want?

OK, a little hockey. I, along with a few other bloggers from around the NHL predicted the Pens in 6 games in the Cup finals, and perhaps in doing so, showed a lack of appreciation for Detroit's masterful puck possession game. In any event, game 3 is tied nil-nil as I write this. (Never mind, Crosby just scored of a Wing turnover).

Jeff Klein at the Times asked us recently for our thoughts regarding the length of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Finals, for example, have the potential of running 3 Saturday's in length. A schedule clearly attempting to capitalize on ratings. Check out this link for our thoughts.

I'm going to enjoy the rest of game 3 now, of course, only after the weasel suit comes out at MSG.

Worst Fishing Story Ever

You'll forgive a brief non-hockey related entry, as I touch on one of my favorite off-season pastimes. A co-worker recently told me about something she witnessed after work one night last week. It was a terrifying story, one which I could not keep to myself. It's a third person account, but here we go.

My co-worker lives in Bay Ridge and went for a jog one night after work. She noticed a fisherman casting out into the Atlantic, likely looking to hook one of the monster flounder that now qualifies as a "keeper" in the state of New York. (Its up to 21 1/2 inches...good luck with that). Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the fisherman pulling a fish over the wall. As she paused a moment to see what he had landed, it became clear that this was one of those fish with a long skinny tail, pointy mean face, and brown fur. Oh #%*@!!! That's a rat!!!

Well my co-worker (smart girl) absolutely bolted. Before she did, however, she saw this fisherman flip this brown thing on the ground and step on it. It was big and bloated and its wet pointy fur made it look like a porcupine. (She did not stick around long enough to determine if the rat was even alive or not when he came over). Now this fisherman, brave bastard that he is, should probably have a television show lined up. "Furriest Catch", or "World's Scariest Angler".

Now if that had been me, I would have just thrown the whole damn rod into the ocean, rat and all. No cutting the line. No sticking around to think about what just happened. Rat over, me gone. Never to fish in Brooklyn again.

I am going on vacation guys, so I'll catch you next week.

Until then, if you plan on going fishing, be sure to check for the catch limit is for the elusive rat fish... and don't wear your nice sneakers.

An Island Unto Itself

Prior to the second to last home game this season against the Devils, participants of the Blog Box were invited to a meeting attended by members of the media relations department of the Isles, specifically, Chris Botta and Corey Witt. I remember at the conclusion of the meeting a fellow blogger had asked "do you anticipate any changes to the blog box next year?", to which an answer was wryly returned "we are the Islanders after all." As if to imply, with the Islander organization, you should know to expect the unexpected.

And this past week, the unexpected appeared in the resignation of Islander VP of Media Relations, Chris Botta. I, like my fellow bloggers, was shocked. My shock gradually turned to frustration after reading Greg Logan's blog, which indirectly placed the blame (if that's the right word, I don't know)on VP of Sales Marketing and Operations, Chris Dey, son-in law of owner Charles Wang. Logan was hesitant to argue the connection to Mr. Wang mattered. I'm not.

In an April 14th, 2007 article in the New York Times discussing past accounting irregularities at Computer Associates, Mr. Wang's management style was summarized as follows by a report issued by company's board:

"Mr. Wang created a “culture of fear” at Computer Associates — now called CA — and deliberately put inexperienced executives in senior positions so that he would have more control, according to the report. He discouraged executives from meeting with each other and arbitrarily fired managers or employees who disagreed with him." According to the Times, the report also said “Under Mr. Wang, CA was known as a ‘one-headed’ dragon, and no significant decisions were made without his participation and approval.”

True? I do not know. For the record, Mr. Wang very strongly disagreed with report's findings.

Reading that quote however, gives me pause. I think immediately of Neil Smith. I think then of Garth Snow. I think of Pat LaFontaine. I now think of Chris Botta. I read the quote above, and am haunted by these names.

I do not know Chris Botta. At least on a personal level. But I did observe him on many occasions in the locker room and the surrounding area in the Coliseum. He was always professional. Cool under stressful circumstances, such as after the stomping incident with Chris Simon. He accommodated beat writers with their requests concerning availability of players, and would, for example, make sure a player was there if the Times was writing a special article, perhaps about face washing. He was respectful to members of the Blog Box. He didn't have to be. I recall leaving the locker room after games and him saying "thanks for coming out". Really? Thanking me for coming to an Islander game and enjoying the experience of being in the locker room for post game interviews?

Thank you Chris.

And now, faced with another embarrassing loss of a key member of its personnel, the Islanders no longer have the one guy who could have helped them find the silver lining. That person, 20 years with the organization, is gone.

Will he be the last?


Hello All. Its been a little while since my last post and I wanted check in with everyone from Islander Country.

Like many of you, I've been watching my share of playoff hockey. For someone who is definitely not a Devil fan, their loss to the Rangers hit me pretty hard. I, like Chico and Ken Daneko, was bothered by the presence of so may ranger fans for the final game in Newark. Perhaps its simply because as an Islander fan who sees the same thing happen in Uniondale, I can appreciate their pain.

The New York Times did a survey and asked for our playoff predictions in round 2. I chose the Habs, Wings, Pens and Stars. We'll see. I wouldn't put any money on it though, as I had the Ducks coming out of the West when the postseason began. Looks as if the Habs/ Flyers series is about to get pretty nasty as it heads back to Philly, and the same can be said, although to a much lesser degree in the Pens series. Its seems the rangers try in many ways to play devil style playoff hockey, but come up short in one area or another, such as turnovers. Plus, I question the longevity of a team who gives up a 3 goal lead in the second round of the playoffs.

On a completely unrelated note, I have come to an important conclusion. The Isles should redesign their jerseys. Now that I think about it, this will deserve a full post devoted exclusively to the topic in the future. In summary though, I look at the Habs, Stars, Wings and even Caps. Their jerseys are great. And they are great because they are simple. Let's go back to the 80's retro colors sans the orange sleeves and stripes.

We'll cut this a little short as I'm heading off to bed soon. I'll post at length soon with my playoff observations, fishing previews and gaming updates (GTA4, COD4, Assassins Creed, etc.).

And by the way, if you've read Chris Botta's recent post about "The Ranger's Effect", I agree with him. Anyone who thinks the rangers winning a cup would be good for the Islanders and their fans has simply never been had the misfortune of being an Islander fan who has lived in the NYC area since 1994. Goodnight.

Two Minutes for Being Sean Avery

This past week Sean Avery, with his innovative and bush league harassment of Devils netminder Marty Brodeur, has caused the NHL to broaden the scope of its unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Anonymous sources have recently reported to Greetings From Islander Country that NHL dean of discipline Colin Campbell is currently holed up in his underwater lair outside of Toronto drafting a new minor penalty to take affect next season. A two minute minor for "Being Sean Avery". Referees will indicate that such penalties have been called by waving their hands around sporadically while making menacing facial contortions.

The following will get you called for two minutes for "Being Sean Avery"

10. Screaming "Oh My God, there's a fire in the arena!" at opposing defensemen

9. Playing without hockey pants

8. Wearing a Dave Schultz mask to intimidate forwards

7. Hitting on the opposing goaltender

6. Painting your jersey over with black and white stripes and pretending to be an official

5. Untying the opposing goaltender's leg pads

4. Dropping dead pucks all over the ice

3. Mooning the opposing goaltender

2. Driving the visiting team's Zamboni while intoxicated

And finally, the number one transgression that will get you two minutes for "Being Sean Avery"...

1. Being Sean Avery

Farewell to the Also Rans

Hey loyal Islander fans (I know you are loyal if you are still reading Islander blogs at this point in the year), be sure to check out my comments in the NY Times Slapshot Blog's "Farewell to the Also Rans". There are many funny responses from all participants.

I find that laughter helps with the pain.

Isles to Send Yolanda Vega to Draft Lottery

Islander fans will no doubt recall the various celebrities that have come out to support our team this year. Kevin Connolly, Cristie Brinkley, Dee Karl, Pat Sajak and of course Yolanda Vega. I have it from very unreliable sources that the Islanders will be sending our own experienced lottery expert to NYC for Monday's NHL draft lottery in the place of Islander legend Mike Bossy. The strategy will be employed as an attempt to give us a better shot at the number one pick. The probability of such an event, which I believe to hover around 8%, will prove to be a tall order.

I have not been able to get an official comment from the team on these developments, but like you I'll be pulling for Yolanda. Or Mike Bossy. Ah hell, I'll just be pulling for the Isles.

Sign Nolan to a 15 year deal

On March 23rd Greg Logan wrote an article titled "Will Islanders give Nolan contract extension?" which focused on the fact that the Islander Coach is heading into the last season of his contract without an extension. The article would lead an average reader to believe Nolan's future, and even job with the Islanders, are in doubt.

My first thought after reading Logan's piece was that it was likely an article designed to stir up some interest and debate at a time when it must be challenging for a beat writer to attract the attention of readers, given the team's disappointing finish to the season. Having said that, the fact that there may even be a remote chance that Islander management is questioning Nolan's future with the team is disturbing.

Before we even discuss that the Isles can expect to miss approximately 400 man games due to injury this year we have to consider that the team which skated out on opening night was a sixth to tenth seeded team. Frankly, sixth to eighth seed was a fairly ambitious goal given the exodus of free agents in July. Without some stellar play by our franchise goaltender in the first half of the season, we could have been out of it by the all-star break. We were plagued even then by a lackluster powerplay and a general inability to score. And the team was largely healthy. Yet, given the lack of scoring talent, Coach Nolan was able to get his guys to play competitively.

Fast forward to today. Injuries. I haven't seen a team so decimated by injuries since my grammer school basketball team was stricken with chicken pox. And yet, when this team has seemingly little to play for, they play with heart, grit, and character. I think Nolan's greatest accomplishment this year is largely overlooked. He got a non-playoff team comprised of AHL players, a back-up goalie and a hand full of veterans to play each game like it really mattered.

And let's not forget the intangibles he brings to the table. My experience in the locker room exposed me to a coach whose professionalism is unassailable. He is a coach who literally smiles when names like Park, Bergenheim, and Comeau are merely mentioned, and will be a wonderful mentor to Kyle Okposo. I think he reserves complaint for the just the right situations. When referees calls are particularly glaring or when players (like Holweg who grabbed at Martinek's stiches) clearly step over the line. His restraint makes his critical comments meaningful.

Being the coach of the Islanders this year was not for the weak of heart. And yet, Coach Nolan accorded himself like a true professional. He is the coach to lead this young and developing team into Cup contention.

If I were Charles Wang, I would take Ted Nolan out to dinner. Just he and I. And I would offer him a contract extension.

Right after I thanked him for being here.

Drinking at a bar and arguing about hockey

I gave up drinking beer for Lent. So when I went out for happy hour this week an alternative had to be found, and I went with Stoli-O and soda. It was not nearly as enjoyable as beer, and I drank at a leisurely pace so as not to fall victim to a rarely enjoyed (and stronger) form of alcohol. The vodka was passable. The real fun of the evening, however, came from seeing old friends, telling old stories, and fighting old fights about hockey.

The participants and spectators of the aforementioned argument included two Isle fans (myself included), a devil fan, a ranger fan and several non-combatants. Add alcohol and all the ingredients for an incident that would at some point require attorneys were present. Luckily, it didn't come to that.

The evening started off innocuously enough with talk about upcoming weddings, work, gaming and the dude walking around the bar in a red jester outfit for some sort of promotion. About an hour into the night hockey inevitably became the central point of discussion. Myself, my fellow Isle fan, and our jersey devil fan were debating Scott Stevens. We all agreed that the guy was absolutely killer. A guy that any hockey fan would want on their team. I recalled many times watching the devils in the playoffs and seeing Scott Stevens sitting in the penalty box twitching. "You'd have to be absolutely out of your mind to $#!& with that guy", I said, "if I were an opposing winger, I would have just shot the puck away before he got anywhere near me and played dead". A brief silence followed and was broken when my buddy added "he can't hold a candle to Potvin though."

That's where the unpleasantness began as my devil fan friend seemed to shrug off the comment and was asked immediately "what was that face for?" We proceeded to beat this guy over the head with facts until he abandoned whatever doubts he may have had. Potvin was just as scary to opposing players, if not more so, was in a class of his own while playing point, and was sick with his breakout passes. Stevens had some of this, but not the same offensive prowess, and certainly not the 1052 career points. After all the abuse this poor devil fan took he just smiled and said "I was only trying to give Jim a hard time. I'd put him above Stevens too." If you were wondering where our ranger fan was during this discussion, he was too busy watching the blueshirts play on the hdtv and mingling with the non-hockey crowd. We didn't need him to place Leetch behind Stevens in the pecking order of defensemen anyway.

I told my friend, the devil fan who is getting married next month, "enjoy your honeymoon, it will be the best sex you ever had. Just don't let your wife find out." We all had a good laugh and moved off the topic of hockey as quickly as we arrived on it.

On the train ride home that night, thoughts of DP's hip surgery, the Islander's upcoming 1st round draft pick, and dinner floated around my head. At eleven o'clock I made potato pancakes from Trader Joe's and tried not to wake my wife.

Such is a night in the life of a hockey fan, and I'll drink to that.

Can Long Island lose the Islanders?

It's a possibility.

At least that's what I came away thinking after listening to Charles Wang's interview with "Mike and the Mad Dog" last week. First, let me say this. The Fan is often criticized for lacking hockey coverage. And while that criticism may have some merit, Russo and Francesa came to the Coliseum and put forth a great lineup of programming. Their questions were insightful, and if they have limited knowledge of the Islander organization and team, it did not show. In fact, I saw Francesa entering the arena at the last home game I attended on another evening all together. So kudos to them for doing a bang up job.

Their interview with Wang, which dealt extensively with the Lighthouse Project was enlightening, and is the source of my post tonight. The Islander owner indicated that the team is currently waiting on approval from the Town of Hempstead to move forward on the Lighthouse project. Following that approval, the project would go back to Nassau County for the final green light. The decision from Hempstead is expected as early as this Summer, and if all goes perfectly, construction will begin on the current Coliseum in July 2009.

However, anyone following these proposals is aware that this is easier said than done. First, when asked by Russo, Wang indicated that the Islanders will never have to play at another arena during construction. If all goes as planned and renovation of NVMC begins July '09, the lower bowl only will be renovated in the off season and the Isles will play many of their first games on the road, similar to the Devils this year. The remaining work on the upper bowl will be completed in the following off season. Russo seemed a little incredulous that such work can be completed over 4 months in two consecutive Summers. Seems like a tall order to me as well.

Further discussion was devoted to the overall magnitude of the Lighthouse. Sports facilities, residences, hotels, office space and canals are envisioned. Mr. Wang thought it is integral to the overall development of Long Island as a whole that this project include all of these elements. The only problem is, as much as the scope of their ambition sounds impressive, it also makes is seem harder to achieve. Could approval from the relevant government bodies have been easier if we were simply building a new arena? I don't know.

And finally, the scary part. When asked by Mike if the Coliseum would be renovated if the Lighthouse project does not go through, Wang said it was very unlikely. And the obvious inference, which Wang would not comment on, was the possibility of the Isles having to leave Long Island if his overall project fails. So every Islander fan better hope that we'll all be skating on a frozen canal in Uniondale in Winter 2010. Otherwise, we can all get fitted for our Flyer jerseys.

After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

"While You Were Out" NY Islander Edition (Parts 1 & 2)

I have a plan.

First, let me provide some background. Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Core of the Four Event on Long Island. I arrived for the Parade of Champions an hour early to ensure a good spot on line. It was a very memorable experience as Islander legends walked mere feet from my position. Bryan Trottier threw me a little high five action, and towards the end of the parade, after having just handed off the Cup, Denis Potvin swung over to me and stretched his huge hand out as we exchanged a high five as well. All I did was offer up a little fist pump and he, as if sensing that I may be one of his biggest fans, found me. It was a emotional and unforgettable day, which brings me to my current dilemma.

Of course, I couldn't embark on such a once in a lifetime experience without a camera to document the special day. And on Monday night, I picked up my developed pics, and knew immediately that they would have to be shared with the World. The next day, I went with a buddy to Bed Bath & Beyond to purchase a frame. "These pictures must be framed and mounted in my home!", I thought. So Thursday night, I struggled for a half hour deciding which four photos to mount, and another half hour meticulously arranging the photos in the matted frame, constantly concerned about layout and symmetry.

Well Friday morning rolled around and I said to my wife "Honey, I have something to show you. You might be very proud of me because I know you love arts and crafts." I proceeded to pull the frame out of the closet. "Wow Jim, that's really nice", she said in an upbeat tone, "you know where that would look great? Your office at work." Well I was very touched that she seemed so supportive. She looked generally impressed.

But then I started to think. One, I don't even have an office at work. And two, this was all a sneaky attempt to tell me "if you think your hanging those pictures up in this house, you're out of your mind. Matted frame or no matted frame." I was forlorn at work. Until that is, I came up with a plan!

My wife is going away this weekend to visit her parents, and while she is gone, I'm going to hang the matted frame with the four photos (Coliseum, Ice Girls, Potvin & Cup and Core of Four Ceremony, respectively) next to my Potvin "Norris x 3" autographed photo. I'll call it "The Wall of Fame". Loyal readers of this blog will recall the unpleasantness that arose when I hung the first autographed photo last year, so understandably, I'm a little nervous. But I have no choice. If not for me, it would be unfair to future guests of our home to leave those pictures out of view.

Now be sure to check in here Sunday night when I document the aftermath of my wife's return and discovery of my "home improvement". I plan to post photo's as well, of the framed pictures, and of our air mattress. After all, I may be spending a lot of time sleeping on it come Sunday evening.

Sunday evening update - 5.18 PM, March 9th. Plan backfires.

Well, my wife came home earlier than expected, at 7 pm Saturday evening, before I even had a chance to mount the photos. No big deal I thought, I'll just install it Sunday afternoon when she goes grocery shopping. However, on Sunday morning, as I was playing Call of Duty 4 multiplayer and trying to avoid camping snipers, my wife came running in from the bedroom and yelled "So, while I was out, huh!" So my wife, who I mistakenly thought read my blog (and comments) less frequently than she does, read all about my plan before I could implement it. Fortunately though, as surprised as she was, she was a good sport about it and seemed quite amused. And at 5.00 PM, before we left for Sunday Night Mass, I hung the pictures with her blessing.

Well, at least until the next Islander Alumni event.

The Path to Hockey Heaven

Beer. Ice Girls. Testosterone.

A general synopsis of my college experience.

Important components, however, of another monumental event, this Sunday's Core of the Four Celebration in Uniondale. Two years ago, when the Isles held the 25th anniversary celebration of the first Cup I was unable to attend because of work, which had me out of state of the time. There will be nothing that keeps me from attending this Sunday however, as it will afford me an opportunity to see something that every Islander fans should be honored to witness in their lifetime, our Captain, number 5, making his way back home while carrying Lord Stanley's Cup.

The discussion of the dynasty years and the Cup finds me again considering our modern day organization, and its effort to return to greatness. If you've been reading my blog all year long, you would have noticed a trend. I felt from early on that the Isles were not built for a playoff run and needed to recognize that the best hope for a championship would come in the form of building, a term used frequently by GM Garth Snow as the trade deadline approached. We have a goaltender just heading into his prime, and we simply need to build a team around him that can make a run into June. You can hit up the Times blog to the right to get my thoughts on all of the Islander trades (just search for my blog name, or conversely, spend 4 hours trying to find me by conventional means). I was not afforded an opportunity there to address the trade that did not happen, and the source of the biggest disappointment for me on Tuesday. We could not move Satan for a pick. Miro, a notoriously streaky goal scorer, has seemed to bottom out when we most desperately needed scoring this year. A first round pick, or maybe even a second round pick in a deep draft was a big lost opportunity for a team interested in building. I've been told by BD and Tom Liodice that he was not even asked to waive his NTC. Having said all this, I do not know if there was universal reluctance by GM's to take on Miro given his knee problems, to be fair to Garth. I'm equally surprised that we could not move a hot Fedetenko to a playoff contender for a high pick, if not Miro. All in all, I walked away Tuesday night feeling as if there were opportunities lost.

Regardless, its history now. Its time to get behind this team and our GM as we all strive for our common goal.

Until then, I will relive my college years in the friendly confines of a hockey arena, the path laid before me by champions.

In Depth Trade Analysis

Guys be sure to check out the link to the NY Times Slapshot blog as it should now have analysis from every single trade provided by partisan bloggers such as myself for the Isles. I only had 2 hours to familiarize myself with everything and get back to them last night, but I gave it a go. Read each part (there are several) of "jobbed or prospered" trade analysis. They'll be updating all day. Enjoy.

Good Luck Guys

I just wanted to take a moment to wish my fellow bloggers Tom, BD, Dee, Mike and Ken good luck tomorrow covering the trade deadline, and to throw support behind our GM. You're in a good position Garth, go get 'em!

Also, if you haven't already, check out the "Atlantic Division" heading in the Times Slapshot blog, where I got into it with bloggers from every division team. They all did a nice job with it, and the Flyer blogger's comment about Holweg is priceless. Check it out, and go Isles!

Blog Announcement (Slapshot Blog Up- Noon Monday!!)

You may have noticed a recent addition to my blog off to the right, a link for The Slap Shot Blog at the New York Times. The editors there are launching a new project where a guest blogger from each NHL team will represent their respective club, and they have asked me to fill that role for the Isles.

The idea is to give each blogger a questionnaire of perhaps five questions, the same questionnaire for each blogger, with all the questions having to do with their team. They’ll come back to me about every two weeks, and more frequently if the Isles make the playoffs (insert sarcastic comment here). I’ve been told the idea of the whole thing is to have fun, definitely to be partisan, and especially to be witty/funny/insightful. This will have no bearing on my current blog, except to hopefully bring more readers to the Blog Box.

Many of us, myself included, have bemoaned the lack of hockey coverage in print media, and the editors and writers at the Times who are involved in the Slap Shot Blog are part of a great alternative, one which will now enjoy a strong Islander viewpoint. This is good news for the Isles, as well as the Blog Box, the Islander initiative which thrives on the hard work of my fellow bloggers. This is expected to go live Monday morning, February 25th although that timeline is subject to change slightly. I will post an update if the Times changes their schedule.

I received the first request from the Times yesterday and they asked us for a 24 hour turnaround. And from looking at the questions and some instruction, I can guarantee there will be plenty of partisanship and plenty of passion. So let’s get out there and represent like only Islander fans can. This will equate to more hockey coverage, and more Islander coverage, which is without question an exciting thing.

Sleepless Nights

I may be working on something pretty exciting that I should hopefully be able to publish within a few days. In the interim, I wanted to briefly post something tonight as there is so much going on in Islander Country.

First, I have not seen Howie Rose at a loss for words like this since Wendy’s started giving free chili to Islander fans again. The reason for his quiet rumination is the Isles logic defying play as of late. The team, who had difficulty scoring all season, and is currently decimated with injuries on the blue line, has somehow found a way to string 5 (make that 6) wins together. Jaffe thinks it’s largely effort. I think it’s somewhat more complicated. I liken it to listening to Springsteen’s “Greetings from Asbury Park” album, the prequel to my blog. I sure as hell enjoy the experience, but in the end, I really can’t explain why. (That mystery can be attributed to the cryptic lyrics of a young Springsteen.) It’s great to see the Isles get on a nice streak, but in the end, it does not change my mind about where the focus should be on Feb. 26, namely the long term future of this club. The Isles showed a ton of heart in their wins, but they also ran into Toronto and Atlanta teams who were surprisingly uninspired. Their streak is great, but it should be analyzed pragmatically by Garth Snow.

There seems to be some reluctance from Islander nation in accepting Chris Simon back into our line-up. Seeing as Jeff Tambellini is the temporary loser in this game of musical chairs, I can understand the sentiment. Personally however, I can’t bear to see Blake Comeau sucker punched, boarded and speared in the crotch any longer. We need, and have needed, an enforcer for a while now. It’s no secret. I respect Ted Nolan enough to support his decision here, and therefore support Chris Simon. Only time will tell if I have misplaced my faith.

I have had a hard time focusing at work lately. There is simply so much going on between the Isles playing seemingly every night, injuries, and the uncertainty of the trade deadline. Today, as I rushed to meet a deadline in my office, images of Chris Simon and Islander ice girls skated around my head. It’s maddening.

Love and Hockey- A Balancing Act

During the first year after meeting my wife, a year held so fondly in my memory, I recall her remarking “you know, that’s one thing that I love about you, you really aren’t into sports at all. It’s so refreshing”. I remember smiling awkwardly and thinking to myself “should I say something here? No, better not. Some secrets are better left secrets.” I just paused and said “I know this great lounge in the lower east side. Let’s go for a drink.”

What I couldn’t bring myself to tell her was that it was the NHL lockout year. And should she stick around, she would have to eventually come to terms with a bit of unhealthy obsession. Islander hockey.

Valentine’s Day is my least favorite of all the holidays. When I was single, it was depressing. And now that I’m married, I always feel pressure to live up to Hallmark expectations. At my office on Thursday I saw several guys scribbling feverishly on cards as single people walked around an office replete with floral arrangements and teddy bears adorned with red ribbons. The holiday reminds me of “couples only” dances at weddings. I sometimes feel we could do without them both.

That said, the holiday stirred up some amusing anecdotes from the past few years of my life as I have traveled the road that few brave men have traveled before me, the one that intersects relationship drive and hockey boulevard.

This past Saturday as I was watching the Islander game I saw Billy Guerin doing a spot which basically said “If you still haven’t gotten that Valentines Day present for your loved one, the Isles have an idea that will work for you”. They were pushing the Hockey and Heels promotion for Tuesday night’s game vs. the Flyers. I thought to myself “now there’s an idea. What a night out! Honey, come here. I know what we are doing for Valentine’s Day.” Well, we watched the remainder of the game in awkward silence as I thought to myself “how could Billy Guerin steer me so wrong?”

Last year, we introduced a new member into our family, a framed and matted autographed photo of Denis Potvin. “Norris x 3”, it read “78, 78, 79”. I remember the sheer excitement as I walked back from the framing store with the Captain’s photo wrapped in brown wrapping paper. I couldn’t wait to get it up. Perhaps understandably, my wife did not share my enthusiasm. As I raised the photo onto our wall she looked like a Ranger fan watching number 5 being raised to the rafters at MSG. Mental note- future raising of the photo events at my house will likely take place in the closet.

Over the years I’ve subjected my wife to myriad jersey and memorabilia purchases, Islander games against defensive minded teams, and several instances of seemingly random screaming at the television screen. It can be a difficult balance, but we get through it. And for the times when I get a little too crazed during the season, I always remind her “You never know, there maybe be another lockout soon.” And then I promise to take her to that lounge in the lower east side, where we can reminisce about the times when I didn’t care about sports.

Well, maybe with one exception.

The Bad Times

This past Monday a co-worker of mine came in wearing a Jeremy Shockey jersey as he celebrated the brand new NY Giant Championship. Later in the morning, a friend of mine commented "man when the Isles win a Cup, I'm going to wear my Islander jersey for a week." I responded "I'll have a Potvin jersey sewn into my skin. Lets just hope they're not the Hamilton Islanders when it happens".

Any Islander fan will tell you there are trends to following the orange and blue. And I believe the trends are cyclical. For example, due of my love of the Islanders, I am good for about 2 bouts of depression a year. These bouts are followed and preceded by a general sense of malaise. On rare occasions, optimism is experienced. Hence is the cycle of the long suffering Islander fan. The depression usually sets in when the Isles look as if they might miss the playoffs or get eliminated after the first round, and in the off-season, when something disastrous happens to the Islander organization such as the free agent exodus and the Neil Smith chapter. Sadly, I believe it is now safe to diagnose myself as having the first case of the calendar year. And as illustrated by my comments above, one of the most severe symptoms for me is cynicism. The cause is simple. From 8th seed prior to the all-star break to thirteenth in the conference in the blink of an eye. It would do it to anyone.

There is a silver lining here, although it is somewhat faint. For the countless fans clamoring for the play of Jeff Tambellini, you’ve finally gotten your wish, although it came at the loss of one of our veteran leaders (Sillinger, hip). Hopefully this time around Tambellini will be able to re-produce the scoring prowess he has displayed in the AHL when skating with line-mate Frans Nielsen. Their power play abilities and overall positioning will need continued development at this level in order to help our anemic offense, but their energy, and hopefully scoring, will be welcome.

The other positive I see may come if (IF) we in fact find ourselves well out of reach of a playoff spot as the trade deadline approaches. Such a position will force Snow to be a seller as opposed to a buyer, which is the best for this team’s future. As I wrote in mid/late December, it was clear that this team was not built to be a playoff contender, and we are more than just one player away from earning that title. Thinking that we are in the hunt for a playoff spot and making a trade to pick up a forward to help us make a run would show improvidence and hurt us in the long run. Conversely, trading a soon to be free agent or agents for promising youth would be wiser. I look at a guy like Comrie. Loved his fight and 2 goals exhibited against the Pens, but I’d deal him if the right opportunity arose. He’s been quoted in Logan’s most recent Islander Insider as stating he wants to be a part of the Islander organization. I don’t know if I buy that.

I’m going to go play Halo 3 now (or as my wife likes to call it “that stupid game again!?!”), but as I summarize my thoughts here, my depression is letting up a little. Look at it this way, if we continue to play like we did against the Penguins, maybe we will make a run at this thing. And then all bets are off, go Isles and bring on the Sens!

And if we don’t make a run of it, we have an opportunity to try and stock up on a little young talent, and perhaps secure a decent draft pick.

No matter what happens, I just hope Garth plays his cards right. I do want to wear my jersey for a week straight, after all.

47 Words

If you are a hockey fan who gets depressed by the ever waning attention paid to the sport of hockey by print media, then you might not want to read any further.

47 words. That's exactly how many words the New York Times devoted to the New York Islander vs. Ottawa Senator game that took place earlier this week. Compare that with a wopping 64 words devoted to Tuesday evening's Devil game and around 100 donated to the epic Ranger game summary. (I had to read that one over a couple sittings). Written in Wednesday's paper, this is just another example of print media's part in seeing the NHL fall further down the ladder of relevance.

About now you're probably saying to yourself "well what do you expect, its a few days before a Giant Superbowl, and the Johan Santana news was breaking?" And you would be correct.

Well, sort of.

Let's look at some other stories that appeared in the same sports section that received more coverage. (Note, while some of the following were full fledged articles, others were small briefings. Nonetheless, all received more words in their stories than the Islander piece).

So here we go: Articles/ briefings that received greater coverage than the Isle game in the 1/30 sports section of the Times:

Announcement that the baseball Hall of Fame game will be dropped after this year

Olympian Jeremy Wariner splits with his coach

Tom Brady referred to as "stud", and proposed to by random woman

Piece about Georgetown point guard Jonathan Wallace

Women's College Ball- W. Virginia over Rutgers

Patriots back-up QB, Matt Cassel

Nigeria tops Benin (soccer)

It may be of interest to anyone reading this post to hear that on all occasions when I have had the fortune of receiving a blog pass for Islander home games, I never saw a writer with a pass from The NY Daily News, The New York Post, or the Times. Now I'm not saying they have never been there, I'm just saying I have never seen one.

Reason for continued concern? Yes. Reason to get mired in depression? No.

The NHL can boast of having the most passionate base, if not the largest. We follow our teams religiously, despise our rivals, read blogs, write blogs, get into hockey message boards and buy too many Islander jerseys. And you know what, its a good thing we do. Its the only way our sport survives.

If you don't beleive me, I've got 47 words for you.

Inside the Locker Room

Ken Rosenblatt, who writes another blog for the Islander blog box commented to me recently as we waited for Bill Guerin to arrive in the Islander locker room for a post game press conference, "Jim, I remember the last time we were here, and I saw this look on your face as sweat dripped from above you onto the floor and bench". This is why Ken does such a nice job with his blog, Islanders Outsider ( He's damn observant. The night he was referring to, I was standing on the outskirts of a player press conference behind all of the beat writers when I noticed a gentle pat, pat sound off to my right. Its then that I realized I was standing under Richard Park's shoulder pads and hockey pants, which were trickling with sweat. I wish I could enjoy Ken's memory of seeing my face when this was happening, as I remember thinking to myself "that's probably just water from the ice".

As we sit here in the midst the all-star break weekend, I've reflected on some memories of my attendance of Islander post game press conferences throughout the first half of the season. One aspect that may be of interest to fans is the interaction of players with bloggers and beat writers, which is to say, there is none. When players like Berard, DP or Sillinger walk by me I go into "A" train mode. That is, I go out of my way to avoid eye contact. Rarely will a player ever acknowledge you. I remember one time Jon Sim (inj.) was walking around in a suit and he seemed to say hello to me and a couple of bloggers. I ignored him. I figured "he can't be talking to us, and I don't want to be an agitator."

One of the reasons I appreciate the way Chris Botta has run this program is that he is extremely hands off. They vetted us via an application process, slowly brought us into the press conference environment, and let us learn how to act in that environment by observing. It is a constant learning experience, but my fellow bloggers take their professionalism in the locker room very seriously.

I've noticed some interested characteristics of some of the players as well. For example, Witt and Sillinger are brilliant with the press. Their experience shows. They seem to know when to be reserved, and when its necessary to make a forceful statement. Very impressive. All-Star Rick DiPietro, who is also eloquent with the press, seems to give off the vibe that he would rather be somewhere else other than answering questions. Watch a few of his conferences. He winces, grimaces, slowly rubs his face and generally gives the impression that answering questions from beat writers isn't the favorite part of his job. Doesn't mean he lacks elocution, or for that matter, the ability to be an elite goaltender.

Bill Guerin is another interesting guy. I've noticed that when Bill is scoring a lot he exudes confidence in the post game q&a, and if he receives a question he doesn't like, he'll go right back at the inquirer. Conversely, when he is the midst of a scoring drought, he tends to become very thoughtful and philosophical, sometimes taking minutes at a time to answer one question.

Finally, for anyone who is wondering, I've never run into any ice girls behind the scenes, although I can assure you that is not from a lack of effort. (disclaimer to wife- I'm only kidding).

So to all you future Islander bloggers, you have sweat dropping on your head and players who will ignore you, to look forward to.

Chances are, if you're reading this blog and you're like me, you'll love every minute of it.

Witt, Martinek Back for MLK day matinee

The Isles are reporting through their website that defensive horses Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek will return for Monday's game. This is clearly good news for fans, especially since Martinek is coming back a little sooner than I would have thought. Our defensive corp, replete with injury, has been over-extended as of late and guys like Johnson have been asked to carry a very heavy load, especially given his very recent recovery. This is an important back to back conference match up and we are fortunate to have these guys back.

January 18- Week in Review

Sorry Marty- Prior to the start of this week's game against the devils former Islander Chico Resch said during the devil telecast that Coach Brent Sutter had had enough. He went on to say that the sentiment was shared by the devil players. They were mad as hell about losing 4 in a row to the Orange and Blue and they weren't going to take it anymore. Well, like it or not, they took it again. DP was spectacular, with a couple of glove saves (especially in the final minutes of the game) of his total of 37 that were truly amazing. I am concerned with Berard's play of late, however. Opposing forwards seem to have the ability to skate by him, and last night he took two almost consecutive penalties. We'll have to wait and see where Bryan (-8 for the year) winds up after Martinek and Witt return, but I believe he will be destined for healthy scratch land. Actually, Meyer's strong play of late will complicate things for Nolan further. In conclusion however, I am quite pleased with the devil game. The Isles (by my count) are 15 and 0 when leading after the second. And they accomplished something even more impressive, they've found a way to make Brent Sutter look even more sullen than usual.

Whero is Miro? Eleven games without a goal and only 10 on the season is a great disappointment. If you look at the countless 1 goal affairs the Islanders get involved in his lack of scoring becomes even more glaring. He had at least 2 very strong chances to score against the habs earlier in the week and had he netted one, the Isles likely would have picked up at least one point. As February 26th approaches, he's vulnerable.

Charles and Chris- The versus telecast of the Isles/ habs showed a familiar face sitting with Charles Wang in the owner's box, Chris Simon. The announcers speculate that Chris actually may start practicing with the team again soon. Not crazy about that idea? Any suggestions then on who to play in March against Orr, Hollweg and Avery? I will say this for the Islanders. They show loyalty. This is one example, Webb, Cairns and Dunham are others.

The New York Times has reported that Christie Brinkley, along with Ivanka Trump and Ed Norton, have helped pour thousands of dollars into Governor Spitzer's campaign account. I am very glad that she is a fan of the Islanders, even though I occasionally kid about her famous catch phrase. As for her political allies, I'm not even going there. I just thought you might find it interesting.

Go ISLES and goodnight!

Islander Fan Quiz!

So tough guy (or girl), you fancy yourself an Islander fan do you? Well you surely are, but how much of a fan are you? Well I've come up with a quiz to ascertain just that. The answer key is at the bottom of this post. Good Luck Islander fans, they'll get harder as you move on!

1) This University of Minnesota Alum has recently signed a 3 year deal with the Isles:

A) Robert Nillson
B) Kyle Okposo
C) Butch Goring
D) Deb Kaufman

2) The Islanders first victory of the 07/08 season came against?

A) Pittsburgh
B) Tampa bay
C) Atlanta
D) Buffalo

3) This goaltender served as Wade Dubielewicz's backup when DP missed 3 games due to a knee injury:

A) Tim Jackman
B) Garth Snow
C) Freddy Meyer
D) Joey MacDonald

4) At the half way point in the season, which was the only Islander of the following who could not boast that he played all 41 first half games?

A) Richard Park
B) Andy Hilbert
C) Mike Sillinger
D) Trent Hunter

5) Of the 6 retired numbers that hang in the rafters at NVMC, which 3 of those dynasty players did not attend Al Arbour night on November 3rd, 2007:

A) Gillies, Potvin and Smith
B) Trottier, Bossy and Smith
C) Bossy, Nystrom and Potvin
D) Potvin , Nystrom and Smith

6) At the half way mark of the season, who led all Islander D-Men with 64 shots?

A) Radek Martinek
B) Andy Sutton
C) Marc-Andre Bergeron
D) Chris Campoli

7) The Islander scoring difficulties during the first half of the season were well documented. Perhaps what best illustrated the drought was the number of consecutive games the Isles went without scoring more than 2 regulation goals. Exactly how many games was that?

A) 10
B) 11
C) 12
D) 13

Analyzing your score:

0/7- You stumbled onto an Islander blog by accident
1/7- "Is Mike Peca still on the team?"
2/7- "I promise, I'll pick it up in the spring!"
3/7- You attend the occasional game
4/7- You watch most games- good for you!
5/7- You own Tradex's 20 game ticket plan. Great!
6/7- Do you work for the team or something? Outstanding.
7/7- You're Christie Brinkley, and You're an Islander!!! Amazing!!

Answer Key- 1-B, 2-D, 3-D, 4-C, 5-D, 6-D, 7-D

My Thoughts on Chris Botta's Recent Blog Post

Like many Islander fans, I have been enjoying Chris Botta's blog all season long, as it often brings us behind the scenes insight of the team, or presents an alternate view to questionable media coverage. His recent post on the "Hey" song played after Isle goals, which has incorporated the "you suck!" element has really got me thinking. And after some reflection, here are my thoughts on this, and some broader issues.

Chris Botta believes this new chant should stop. He is not forcing a stop by removing the song, but rather making a recommendation to fans in the interest of maintaining a good image of Islander supporters. Chris wrote:

"Please understand this: if this goal-celebration chant continues to grow, this is what our extraordinary fan base will become known for.They will be known for yelling something vulgar at the legendary Martin Brodeur"

I understand his concern for the image of the Islander fan base, but I don't agree that it should stop, except by its own lack of momentum, which is probably inevitable. Marty Brodeur, the most recognizable face on the Devil team, dons a NJ Devil Jersey, skates into our building, and wants to beat us. When Marty plays at MSG he is met with deafening "Marty Sucks!" chants. Why at the Coliseum should fans be expected to behave in such a meek manor? We play 1) in the Eastern conference and 2) in the Atlantic Division. This isn't the sun belt. We play against very passionate and sometimes hateful fans in NYC and Philly. And you know what, that's part of what makes our Division so special; there is a lot of passion there. The playoff games against Toronto to me were amazing. Yes, there were a minority of fans who acted irresponsibly in booing the Canadian anthem, but the passion in that building was unforgettable, and no doubt intimidating to the Leafs. That's Atlantic Division hockey atmosphere.

And how about the vitriol directed at Denis Potvin for all those years by ranger fans? Outrageously vulgar chants were directed at the future hall of famer, a player who I am convinced will never, ever be matched in pure talent and drive. And they still have that Potvin chant! Where the hell are Messier and JD on the big screen imploring fans to stop that chant? It wouldn't take long if they kept playing such videos before the chants stop. Yet, the Ranger organization does nothing. (I used to get really furious at that chant, but I really don't mind it now as its such a poor reflection on Ranger fans and has made Potvin an even bigger hockey legend than he already was).

In summary my feeling is this. I am more concerned with being a fan of a team that doesn't boo Marty and give him a hard time than one that sits quietly and admires him. This is the Atlantic Division. I think we could use a little less Sparky the Dragon and "Everybody clap their hands!" and a little more 80's atmosphere. I will never condone violence, or heavy vulgarity. At the same time though, I can't tolerate apathy.

This chant may not be the most profound, but at least its a representation of passion.

Musical Pads

Its well after 11 o'clock and I have just returned from the Coliseum after having watched the Isles lose in OT to the Panthers by a score of 4-3. I felt the Islanders show great resiliency by coming back from behind three times to steal a point from the Panthers. The Isles did so by capitalizing on the man advantage twice. The final goal was executed beautifully as Park fed Sillinger who hit Guerin who notched the goal. The play developed from the neutral zone.

The press conferences that followed the game, however, had very little to do with the game; instead they had to do with DP's pads. In fact, as soon as Nolan hit the podium he was peppered with questions about them. It seemed like some of the beat writers were salivating to get at him. Rick himself was asked myriad questions about the pads. It was very difficult to ascertain what happened from the vantage point of the stands, but this is what I learned from DP's Q & A session. Apparently Rick had been breaking in new pads as of late, and had used them for the first time in a game tonight. However, at some point either during or just after the first period, it somehow became known that Rick had not cleared the pads with the NHL, which was required. He was forced to change pads, and unfortunately, there may now be a suspension looming over DP for the lapse. Rick claimed that the Isles brought this to the attention of the league during the first intermission, but it may have been too late. We'll have to see what happens in the next couple of days.

If you were not at the game, there are some interesting notes. There was a strong vociferous crowd in attendance tonight. Pat Sajak was in attendance as well, and played to the Islander crowd very well during a TV timeout.

And finally, during another TV timeout, Florida Panther color commentator Denis Potvin was recognized by the Islander crowd and received a tremendous ovation. To be honest, that was one of the reasons I attended tonight's game. Any chance I have to show appreciation to number 5, I'll take without hesitation.

Goodnight Islander fans.