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.