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 (http://islandersoutsider.blogspot.com/). 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.