Jason Blake is back on the ice at the Coliseum tonight. This will bring about a wide spread of emotions I would imagine as this is the guy the Islanders acquired as a 4th liner 7 years ago and was afforded the opportunity through hard work to turn himself into an NHL All-Star. This is a guy the Islanders saw fit to give a 3 year extension more than a year before his current deal had expired because and I quote "This is the kind of guy we want to reward". What happened in the Islanders unceremonious allowing of Blake to walk up to Toronto where he no doubt sits wondering why he is there answering questions as to why he is has scored 5 goals in 39 games.
These next bullet points are based on my opinion, and 3rd party information I have heard regarding the subject of number 55. Keep in mind this is opinion of the PLAYER and not the PERSON who I hope lives a healthy life until he is old and grey.
1 - Blake, despite his effort and production increases over the last 6 years grew to think who he was after leading the Islanders in last year keeping to himself as it became evident he no longer had to pretend that the Island was where he wanted to stay. The secret was out. Blake had openly complained to the newspapers that he wanted a 5 year deal, or he was out. Period. Consider the timing of this quote. The Islanders has acquired "Captain Canada" to not only push for a playoff spot, but to challenge for a Cup. His addition gave the team credibility it had not had in I do not know how long. Then Blake opens his mouth and puts the spotlight back on the negative that seems to surround the team most of the time. Their top player wants out, never a good sign no matter the circumstance.
2 - Blake was never a positive force in the locker room and his team mates were happy to see him go. So many wrote that players left the Islanders. I choose to see reality and see it as a liberation of team of people that had grown complacent, non motivated but talented players, and bitter players who think they weren't getting what they were worth with the exception of Smyth. Blake in included with this group. The team made no serious effort to meet his 5 year demand instead offering 3 years. Why is this? The team had the cap room, and the player is popular and productive. So whats the problem? The problem is he had turned into a virus in the locker room over the last 2 seasons and his teammates, coach and GM wanted him out.
3 - While it is no secret I have never been a huge fan of "Blakey" and it is because he caused as many goals against as he scored. Blake would not pass the puck (which is funny because he is proving this year that he can do it.) He would hold and hold and hold and shoot wide more often than not clearing the offensive zone for the defense starting a rush the other way. Definition - Blake turned into a selfish player who cared about his stats more than the team.
I think the Islanders are a class organization who will offer Blake a video tribute tonight for a guy who played just six years for the team. Excuse me.. a VIDEO TRIBUTE? Is Yashin going to get a video tribute when he comes back? How about Peca? Should Kenny Jonsson get a video tribute? Usually players that get video tributes are players that actually contributed something positive other than personal stats and working hard for a team for 6 years. I am sure this opinion will draw the ire of some people reading it as Blake was popular here but I can make no apologies for it. I hope he gets the "Buffalo Satan" treatment and I would like to see him buzzing around the offensive zone only to get crushed by a Witt body check.