Monday, October 27, 2008

Islanders to Introduce 3rd Jersey..... Anyone nervous?

People get so excited about uniform changes. No other team in pro sports has created an uproar with their fan base like our very own New York Islanders. We all gritted out teeth and smiled at those horrendous Islander Logos when they were introduced in 1996. I had less of a problem with the "wave" design than I did that horrendous idea for a logo, which was so bad that before the jersey was even shown to the fans the team was looking for a way to change it. Other teams fans had it to easy on us. Easier than it usually is when half of the fans that show up to Ranger-Islander games are Ranger fans. Easier than it is when people look upon the Nassau Coliseum as a pariah and let us know it.

I always have a bit of trepidation when the Islanders announce a uniform change in any way. I have nightmares of being attacked by a maniac in a slicker with a hockey stick. That wouldn't be so bad if Jennifer Love Hewitt were in the dream also but that is another maniac in a slicker story. This one is much more scary and disturbing. The good news is that the 3rd jersey this time will actually be something that myself and many fans have been clamoring for - a return of the jerseys the team wore in its inaugural season. I am thrilled that this will be the choice of the team for its 3rd jersey and you should be thrilled that the team isn't employing some ridiculous caricature of what an Islander is supposed to be.

I see a parallel here. The 1972-73 Islanders finished with a record of 12-60-6 wearing those jerseys. As it stands right now the team is 2-5. I am not saying the current Islanders could challenge the 1972 team for futility but challenging for last in the league is not out of the question. I have said before that the team needs to go for a total rebuild. Trade veterans while they have value and hand the team to the kids entirely. Our young players need to sink or swim and we are not getting a full look at their potential with Weight, Guerin and Comrie eating up valued minutes.

John Tavares will be the prize of the draft next year. Would finishing last in the league be worth a shot at the next great young player? now I don't want to project that far in the future, and with the luck the Islanders have they probably will get the 2nd overall pick next year. If the perfect storm happens the Islanders will have a shot at the next Sydney Crosby type player. Put that together with the beginning of the renovation of the Coliseum, and you have really got a chance to turn this thing around for good.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Learning Curve - The Ups and Downs.

Don't look now but the Islanders are in learning mode... No Really. Head Coach Scott Gordon's new system, highlighted in victories against Tampa Bay and St. Louis and low-lighted in losses to Buffalo and Florida is the topic of much discussion these days.

This is going to be the norm for the Islanders over the next month. One game on and one game off. The system works. We have all seen what the system can do when implemented and carried out. Yes that was the same team that forced the issue on the Blues and pressured their defenseman into coughing up the puck that showed up in Florida and could not apply enough of a pressure forecheck to juice an orange.

The question that is to be asked is whether the Islanders have enough talent to carry the system successfully over the long haul and the answer is yes and no. This is a system for kids. skating skating skating is what it takes to pull this off. If they do not skate the forwards get pinned down low and we all know that leads to odd man rushes the other way. Its not time yet, but I can foresee the team unloading its remaining veterans Guerin, Weight and Sillinger to let he kids run wild if they fall to many games under .500. Its way to early for that now as the team has to put forward the face that they are trying to compete. I am a fan and I will never root against the Islanders but John Tavares has 13 goals in 14 games in the OHL.

Everyone and his mother knows the NHL wants Tavares on the Maple Leafs. Let the conspiracy theorists work on that one but if you buy into that kind of thinking it makes perfect sense. The Leafs are the Yankees of the NHL. I'm sorry but I do not buy them signing Jeff Finger as trying to compete in the same off season you lose Mats Sundin. The Leafs are tanking the season in a bid to get the next great young player to enter the NHL, thats a fact.

In closing let me just say this. The players will determine the fate of the last remaining veterans on the team. What happened last year cannot happen again. Either your in playoff position, or your a seller. Enough of this 5 points out of 8th so we will stand pat. The team lost out on that by not trading Satan, Fedotenko and a couple others last season. Your either competing by the trade deadline or you are not.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Fragile Thing Called Life.

Every once in a while we are reminded how fragile it all is. Just like that we can be taken from this world and it does not matter what age, race, creed, religion, sexual orientation or gender you are.

Alexei Cherapanov, NY Rangers prospect and 19 years of age collapsed during a hockey game and passed away. Let me write that one more time. 19 years old. I could go into a rant about the fact that there was a problem with the defibrillator on the ambulance he was placed in. I could go into a rant about the fact that they did not have a defibrillator in the locker room at the trainer's disposal. I could also go into a rant about how a 19 year old kid goes through his entire hockey career probably playing since he was a 6 year old and never gets diagnosed with the problem that eventually took his life playing the sport he loved. I could rant all day and what would it change?

Now its up to the powers that be in the KHL to make sure this kid did not die for no reason. How about putting measures in place to make sure trainers and EMT's have the proper equipment in place to save some one's life when they need it. We are talking about a world class athlete and a child here. We will never know if a defibrillator in the locker room would have saved his life. I do know that if such a device if on hand would have had a good chance to save a 19 year old's life. I also know that one can be purchased for under $1,400.00. Think about that for a minute and then think about it again after the nauseous feeling in your gut creeps in.

We always look for someone to blame in situations like this and in this case the list is rather long. All that can be done is to put measures in place to make sure nothing like this happens again. Let us all hope and pray that the KHL takes those measures so we do not have to experience a loss like this again. Let me rephrase that - Let us all hope and pray that the KHL puts measure in place to make sure families, team mates and friends do not have to lose another kid this way.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Early Returns Are In.

The curtain has risen on the 36th season of Islanders hockey. This season will be the most important season in the teams last 25 years. This we all know. What we do know know is how the season will play out and in the most early returns the news is positive. Scott Gordon's new system has been implemented and accepted by the players. They have much work to do to perfect it but it seemed to work against the St. Louis Blues and created some scoring chances while being muffled by Martin Brodeur on opening night.

The team scored 4 goals in the first period in an offensive explosion that Islander fans have been dreaming of. 2 of the 4 goals were a direct result of Gordon's puck pursuit system. Having seen the system up close you really do notice a difference. The team is on the puck in the offensive zone and were rarely caught flat footed coming back on the back check. Turnovers in the offensive zone often result in scoring opportunities because they take the defense out of their rhythm. More goals are scored off of turnovers than off the rush when your dealing with a team that doesn't have a high powered offense. No one will mistake the Islanders for the Red Wings or Penguins any time soon so the more turnovers the team can create in the offensive zone will more than likely result in more goals.

Injuries are taking their toll on the team already as already on the shelf Mike Sillinger are joined on IR by Campoli, Bailey, Sutton, DiPietro and Martinek. I know what you are thinking reading this, Martinek and DP hurt? Your shocked.. appalled that these 2 guys are hurt. We should see Josh Bailey's debut sometime in late October as all Islander fans want to see the kid on the ice. He was given a nice ovation on opening night when he was introduced putting to rest the thought of the fans holding him responsible for Garth Snow's decisions on draft night. It is not his fault and its good to see the fans aren't holding him accountable... YET.

DP or not DP. If Rick is healthy enough to be on the bench then why isn't he in net? Is it a ruse to get him more playing time in practice because he missed most of camp and looked horrid against the Panthers in pre season? Everyone around the team is tight lipped as they do their best impression of Bill Parcells when discussing the injured. I do not know what the team is attempting to gain by taking this tact but it appears for the time being this is the direction they are going. The only thing I know is that when Rick was in the crease for warm-ups before the Blues game he looked very delicate. That is my observation only but he looked VERY cautious and didn't move from side to side and only went to his knees once. Is there something more serious going on with Rick? Time will tell.

The first 2 games of the season has got the fans attention. In conversations with the fans on opening night they are cautiously optimistic of the teams new direction but still do not expect much in the way of overall season results. Most realize it is a work in progress and are tempering their expectations. I did not hear one comment about Ted Nolan or Nikita Filitov and heard mostly positive comments about Gordon and Bailey. I am looking forward to today's game to see chapter 3 of the season. Voice your opinion here!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Good and the Bad - Its in the Hands of the Kids.

The kids are here, and most of them are here to stay. 8 Players who were born in or after 1984 will be on the main roster to start the season. The "dead wood" veterans are gone and the Islanders hav committed themselves toa full fledged rebuilding period. I presend 3 arguments for and 3 arguments against how the Islanders are currently doing business. Lets get started with -


1 - Can They or Cant They? The only way the Islanders are ever going to figure out someones value is to throw them into the deep end of the pool and see how they swim. It is time for Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenhiem, Jeff Tambellini, Bruno Gervais, Chris Campoli and Frans Nielsen to show what they can really do. They have all be given central roles with the team this season and lets face it and if nothing else this will show the team exactly what they have here. Can Campoli be the main man on defense? Can Tambellini score at this level? Can Bergenhiem build on the flashes of brilliance he showed last season? We will all know the answers to these questions. Oh and yes, we will all get a good look at Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo will also be here for his follow up to his promising 9 game stint last season.

2 - Don't waste money on mercenaries - The Islanders did the right thing in free agency. You want guys to be here because they want to be here, because they like the community and know there is more to the coliseum and the Islanders than a crappy old arena and a crappy parking lot. You want guys that will grow along with this Lighthouse project that should begin construction this June. You revitalize the area, and grow some home grown stars as opposed to guys who strictly come here for money and you have the chance to build something truly special. Sure its taking a while, but we could all be better off in the end.

3 - The team needs more faces than just Rick, home grown ones. - Sure you could go out and buy a poster boy for the Islanders and what would that do? The team successes of the past were always built on building from within and the only way we are going to get out of the doldrums is to build from within. By the time the Islanders start ascending to power in the NHL we will have the infastructure in place as far as arena and facilities to attract the marquee player to play here. Its fairly simple. Build a strong base, dress it with a new arena and surrounding area and watch the team develop into a league power again. The Islanders have to become a destination for free agents, not the last stop on the way out of the NHL.

Time to Switch to -


1 - Highlighting weakness is not a good thing - An organization with the problems the Islanders do should spend a little less time highlighting its weaknesses. If you are going to go with a youth movement they why bring in Doug Weight? Why resign Mike Comrie? Why sign Mark Streit? It all makes little sense. Either you go with youth or you go for free agents. The Islanders seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle.

2 - No one wants to come here - All the free agent period proved is you have to be contractually obligated to play here or no one else wants you. The second an Islander player becomes a free agent he seems to be looking elsewhere. Would any quality free agent ever consider signing here? The Islanders had better find a way to make themselves attractive to NHL players or they will be the NHL's version of the Pittsburgh Pirates, except they have a nice place to play and tend to get something before they lose their players via free agency. The team is going with a youth movement because its the right thing to do, its going with a youth movement because it has no choice.

3 - Islanders Farm System a positive? - Why is the only group of people who seem to laud the Islanders farm system with praise draw paychecks from the team or fans of the team. Looking objectively the farm system and what the "experts" say about it it is not promising and extremely over rated by the team itself.

Three for and Three against. Let me know where you stand on this subject.