Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Lost Season: Thoughts of a Die Hard Islander Fan

So here we sit three games later from my last column proclaiming that these next three games were going to go a long way in determining whether the Islanders would be relevant this season or just another joke of a season where the team says all of the right things and does all of the wrong things.

You can talk about injuries all you want but the team cannot use that as an excuse this time.

So why are the Islanders so horrible?

We can start with coaching. Every analyst and writer said this was the the year the Islanders were going to make that big step to being relevant. What they have done is taken a huge step back.

Who gets the blame his time? All experts believe the Islanders have the tools to compete so the finger of doom must point directly at Jack Capuano. It is time for Jack to go as the losses pile up and the Islanders become more of a laughing stock than they already are. The problem is firing Capuano will be like a punch line in the channels of the NHL media. I can see the TSN report now. "Leafs.. Rangers.. Canadiens.. Canucks... Jets... Red Wings oh and haha.. the Islanders fired another coach. Lets get back to the Leafs.. The Rangers.." etc and so on and so forth.

We can all see the headlines like they are already written. We can see the bottom line coming like a headlight on a black highway at night.

You cannot fire the players. They tried that already by making an example out of Blake Comeau sending him packing. The only solution is to clean house upstairs. The problem is does anyone believe that Charles Wang will fire Garth Snow, Jack Capuano and his entire upper management team for basically doing nothing. Sure they try, but they have no credibility with any established players or agents. When your a player and Garth Snow calls you and says "hey the Islanders are interested in bringing you in" I wonder if any player agent takes him seriously or entertains the thought at all.

It is time to fire Snow and his entire staff including the coach and all of his assistants. Charles Wang needs to do something drastic and bring in a veteran GM with a pedigree of winning. Bring in a coach who has won something at the NHL level. Bring in a general manager with years of experience. Charles Wang has said he will spend money to make the Islanders better. If that is true then the time has come to spend that money on upper management and coaching. Enough of the AHL never was's trying to find another Peter Laviolette. Its not going to happen.

The Islanders are an absolute embarrassment of an organization and it really pains me to admit that but I cannot condone what is going on here any longer. I love the Islanders. I love their history. That history has to mean something and if it does, Charles Wang will do something before its to late. Screw the arena and focus on making the on ice product the best it can be by putting people in charge that have a background and success at this level.

I was one of the guys watching the Islanders get pounded in the 1990's by the original Winnipeg Jets 8-1 being one of about 1,500 people in attendance. I am one of the guys who sits in the stands as the Islanders blew a 5-1 lead against the expansion Ottawa Senators and lose 6-5 against a team that could beat absolutely no one. I was a guy who chose to saw the good in the 15 year contract to Rick Dipietro. I was a guy who chose to look at whatever positive I could out of Mike Milbury's bone headed trades. I was also one of the guys sitting in the stands wondering how the Islanders could play 20 games and win only one in 2010.

I have reached the end of my rope.

Now I'm sitting here questioning why I am still a fan of the organization. I have been one of the biggest Islander apologists out there and even I have reached a point of throwing my hands up and saying "why do I do this to myself?" There is no joy in rooting for the Islanders any more. Admitting your a fan of the team always is met with a snicker or a look of sympathy from a fan of any other NHL team.

When you reach that point as a fan which many other Islander fans have already reached then what is there to do any more? Hope for a miracle? As we all know as Islander fans there are no more miracles left. Despite the once a decade success the Islander have enjoyed since their days of dominance in the early 80's the only thing Islander fans can depend on is disappointment and misery.

When will the suffering end?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York Islanders: Its Time to Make a Statement

Injuries, injuries, injuries.

Every team has them. Its time to stop with the excuses. Now is the time for the Islanders to do something with their 2011-12 season. Right now. Tonight against our higher profile, richer, more glamorous and big spending neighbors in Madison Square Garden. This is not just another game against the Rangers. The Rangers themselves are under the cameras of HBO's outstanding "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" along with the Orange Crud.. excuse me the Philadelphia Flyers. A game which by all rights should be Islanders vs. Rangers in Yankee Stadium, but that is another column for another day.

The Islanders have floundered along long enough with people, writers and fans making excuse after excuse of why the team still flounders at the bottom of the NHL standings every year and HBO will be sure to capture at least a part of the Rich Man Poor Man mini story arc sure to be showcased in episode 3 of the HBO's popular mini-series.

The time has come for the young talented Islanders to make the kind of statement they did last year against the Penguins and the last part of the season. The Islanders started off this season in the same fashion as last season with early success followed by a long poor stretch. Before all of the Penguin fans jump all over me for condoning the Islanders so called goonery from last seasons fight filled affair with the Penguins, I do not mean the Islanders should emulate the Thunder Bay Bombers from "Youngblood" and simply take the Rangers apart with their fists.

What I mean is the Islanders have to play solid hockey and come away with two points on Garden Ice in front of HBO's cameras. The Rangers are enjoying a fine season with their newest high priced free agent for once being exactly what they needed to be successful in Brad Richards.

If the Islanders want to make something of their season this year then go out and beat the Rangers in front of HBO on their home ice and steal just a bit of the spotlight from them. The Islanders have been playing well and its time for the team to take it to the next level and what better way to make a statement for your own confidence than to take it to your fiercest rival in front of their own crowd when the spotlight is brightest?

If not, they can go back to being cellar dwellers and hope the next top five pick can be the one that pushes them to respectability.

They have two opportunities to do so tonight and on December 26th both at the Garden against the Rangers with a home game against the Canadian version of the Rangers in the equally high profile Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

Three games that could very well define this season for the Islanders or in turn break down whatever chance this team has to be any assemblance of successful. It is all in their hands as the Islanders have the ability to do it, but will they? Tune in tonight at seven o' clock and find out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York Islanders: Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Back

The Islanders are on a bit of a merry go round right now.

After ending their annual horrid stretch of futility, the team gave everyone a bit of hope by stringing together some solid performances and getting some points and managed to get to within five points of eighth place in the East.

Enter Pittsburgh.

The Islanders played well enough in the first jumping out to a 2-0 lead before folding like an accordion in losing 6-3.

Last night against Montreal, they managed to make it competitive coming back from 3-1 down before losing 5-3.

The most troubling element of these losses was the play of Al Montoya who for the first time does not look so good.

The Islanders will not put together the kind of streak they need unless for the first time this season they can all manage to achieve some level of consistency as a group. The talent is int he locker room but in these losses it always seems like one aspect of the team whether it be offense, defense or goaltending fails in grand fashion.

Evgeni Nabokov will probably get the green light on Thursday against the Dallas Stars and hopefully he can rebound from his sore hamstring and give the Islanders some stability in the crease.

It seems like the Islanders go well enough during a game until something happens in game that completely derails the team, whether it be a blown call a bad goal against or a failed power play.

This young team has the talent to compete every night the problem is they are failing to compete every night because of one problem or another. Jack Capuano and company have to feel like they are trying to plug a leaky dam with and are running out of fingers.

The Islanders are still capable of salvaging this season, hopefully they can develop some consistency before the whole damn gives way.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New York Islanders: Embarrasment on a National Scale

There is one thing about being an Islander fan that us Islander fans never seem to get used to. That is being embarrassed. That is just what happened against two of the leagues best being completely out-played, out-worked, and out-classed against the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

One of those things is understandable. Being outclassed by the leagues best is OK for a young team supposedly on the cusp of a major step forward.

Being out-worked is not one of them.

How many times has the opposition scored the first goal? While you think about that, how many times has the opposition scored on the very first shot of the game?

The Islander started this season like we all expected them to. Hard working, fast skating and competitive. What has happened since them is absolutely unacceptable. So what are the major problems here? Is it time to clean house?

Think of it this way. The Islanders have failed every test set before them this season to this point. One quarter of the season is over and there they sit again, at the absolute bottom of the NHL with one point separating them from the even more disappointing Columbus Blue Jackets.

The difference this season from last is that the Islanders actually look worse than they did during their horrid but similar futile stretch last season. Maybe we would see one game like the one we saw last night against the Penguins. But how can you show an utter lack of caring and work ethic for so many games in a row?

Its disgusting, disappointing and something needs to be done about it. Its almost like the Islanders believed their hype and thought all they had to do was show up and presto! They would be competitive every game. The Boston Bruins alone have made a mockery of the Islanders this season with how they have bombed them off the ice like they are a High School team. Last year the Islanders would have been in the faces of the Penguins and Bruins and both teams may have left the Islanders with two points, but they would feel those effects of a hard fought contest and not the pond hockey exhibition the Islanders are putting on these days.

What can the team do? The Islanders core of Tavares, Moulson, Okposo, Bailey, Streit and DiPietro, are all signed to contracts. The veterans on the team, Rolston, Pandolfo, Eaton, Mottau, Jurcina and Staios all have little or no value.

Jack Capuano has been absolutely lost behind the bench and appears to have lost his young team already and who could blame them. Putting Grabner with Tavares and Moulson makes no sense whatsoever. None of the three is a play maker as they are all shoot first guys. Benching Okposo for three games does what exactly besides wreck his confidence? What on God's green earth did anyone have to gain by starting rookie Anders Nilsson last night against the Penguins? Your paying Rick DiPietro to play hockey and he has not been horrible this year, so why the heck do you go with a rookie?

It's no secret that the fans have turned on Rick DiPietro. It was in my mind the biggest danger when he signed his 15 year contract. Not injuries, not poor play but his own fans turning on him which seems to inevitably happen with players signed to very long contracts.

That being said, why the hell didn't Rick start last night? Say what you want it makes absolutely zero sense to stick the kid in goal last night. None at all.

Jack Capuano gave the Islanders something last season. He gave them an attitude, some confidence, and a strong work ethic. Why has the team taken such am incredible step backward is beyond any one's comprehension to explain. The second half of last season the Islanders were a team no one in the NHL wanted to play. Right now, the Kellenberg High School team could kick their ass.

Someone has to be responsible. Something has to be done. What exactly that is is up to one man, Charles Wang and secondly Garth Snow assuming Snow gets to keep his job.

Maybe its time to bring in a veteran coach and a veteran general manager and let them have a go with this team and give them more than 30 days to do it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New York Islanders: Same Old Islanders?

Well this is not how we expected the season to go did we?

The Islanders sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and are risking digging themselves another impossible hole that could result in the team's season being over before Christmas again.

The numbers are ugly, the performances of late have been ugly.

What the heck is going on? This year was supposed to be different. This was the year the Islanders made a run at the playoffs and were competitive. The Islanders right now have three major problems that are fixable. Can or will they be fixed before its to late?

1) Porous defense. Plain and simple the team is allowing way to many good offensive chances against. Its kind of hard to win games when the other team is up one zip on you in under a minute into the game. The Islanders have had a lot of problems this year and letting the opposition skate directly down the ice after the opening face off and score has got to stop.

Marl Streit and Steve Staios have been the only defensemen to play anywhere near his ability and even Striet is a minus six. Its easy to see why GM Garth Snow took the shot at Christian Erhoff in the off season. The rest of these guys are not performing. Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina, Mark Eaton, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic have all bee mediocre at best.

So what do you do about it? Bring back in the young guys who finished the season last year? Do you make a desperation trade? No you cannot do that. What you can do is hammer the point home with the group of verterans you have that its time to wake up before your playing meaningless games in December.

2) Goaltending Merry Go Round. All three net minders have been good. Is it a major distraction when the team has no idea which of the three goaltenders its going to be? I doubt its a major distraction, but it has to be at the very best a little distracting.

All three goaltenders have played from good to very well this year, with Al Montoya being the best of the three. Its time for the team to pick two guys and run with them. If that means trading one, then get it done soon.

3) What the heck is wrong with the secondary scorers? Islander fans have been waiting for what seems like years for Kyle Okposo to emerge as a bona-fide NHL player. Blake Comeau has been abysmal, and Josh Bailey has not been good. They are all now liabilities to the team. In a combined 40 games they have one goal and four assists and are a minus 16.

The three of them need to have a stunning turn around. Tavares, Parenteau and Moulson cannot do it all by themselves.

The Islanders are headed for another lost season if things do not turn around and this time they cannot blame injuries for it. The team has looked disjointed, uninspired and lost at times. Something needs to happen soon before the hole gets to big to climb out of.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New York Islanders: Islanders Play Two Games in One Night

No its not what your thinking. They did not get rained out and play a double header. Don't you know true double headers do not happen any more?

That aside, the Islanders were dominating the Colorado Avalanche last night just about through two periods leading three zip late in the second period.

Then something happened.

The Islanders totally imploded after the Avalanche scored a late second period power play goal.

Then the Avalanche came storming back in the third period putting 16 pucks and two goals on the Islanders before ending it on yet another power play in overtime.

Not to say the Islanders did not have their chances and they did not play a perfect game mind you. Goaltender Al Montoya bailed them out in the second period when the Avalanche threw 19 shots at him and some really good chances also.

Three goal leads in the NHL are supposed to be safe leads. Now this is obviously not the first time a three goal lead has been blown, but this is a game that should have been all Islanders at the end. It wasn't.

So what went wrong? The first thing you can look at is that what was supposed to be a strength for the Islanders is looking like a weakness. They allowed 47 shots on goal. Now The Avalanche are a good young team but no one is confusing them with the Capitals.

The Islanders defense has been spotty this season with the lone bright spot being Mark Streit.

What can the team do to fix the problem? Well, they tried to fix the problem with someone named Christian Ehrhoff in the off season but he decided he did not want to be on the Island.

The Islanders are going to have to make due with what they have and they have a compliment of defenseman that should be able to handle it. Hopefully they can straighten this out and find five guys to play with Streit that can hold the opposition down.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New York Islanders: Winless Streak Must End Now

Five games. It doesn't seem like a lot especially when two of them are 1 point overtime losses.

How Islander fans always know that things can spiral out of control. Of course we know. We're Islander fans are we not?

Last season a promising start was derailed by a horrific win less streak that killed the season before it had the chance to get under way. Will this season be any different?

The Islanders played one of the better games that they have played all season against the San Jose Sharks in defeat Saturday night. The 3-2 overtime loss was amplified by the fact that a mystery call led to the winning goal in overtime as Travis Hamonic was whistled for a delay of the game call when clearly the puck bounced off the glass before it went out of play.

Non of the four officials on the ice seemed to agree and Travis was assessed a 2 minute minor that resulted in the winning power play goal for the Sharks.

There is no question the Islanders are not the same team that went through that horrid win less streak last season. Problem is, Islander fans are concerned. These games are strikingly similar to some of the games during the streak last season. Overtime losses, close one goal defeats, valiant efforts. When does it all end.

It has to end with the Islanders next game against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. If there is such a thing as a must win game in November, this is it. The Islanders have to get a win under their belt and it has to be now.

Plug that hole before the erosion of losing spins out of control again. The Islanders and their coached are all saying the right things, they are all doing the right things. Except winning. Winning fixes everything. Get that win and people stop worrying. Lose, and the beat goes on and not in a good way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New York Islanders: Islanders Top Line Flexing Offensive Muscles


That is what you have to say at the scoring totals of the Islanders top line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson.

John Tavares is looking like the player that Islanders fans went nuts for at the Draft Party when he was drafted. His only criticism of the game he plays was his skating and strength. That issue has obviously been solved with Tavares working extensively with his skating coach to build up his strength on his skates. If the first four games of the season are any indication Tavares has been much tougher to push off the puck and has demonstrated a nose to find open space on the ice.

P.A. Parenteau is another story and is in a lot of ways the polar opposite of Tavares. If you called him a late bloomer you would be accurate. Last year was his breakout season when he scored 20 goals and had 33 assists primarily playing with Moulson and Tavares. So much is made of Garth Snow's pick ups of Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson. Do not forget about P.A. Parenteau. He has become a valuable asset to play with Tavares and is an excellent play maker. He currently has one goal and six assists in four games.

Matt Moulson was basically signed to make John Tavares more comfortable in his rookie season. He lit up the preseason two years ago and people said, he wont score in the regular season. Score he did. he netted 31 goals. The next year, people said he wont score near that many again. Then he went ahead and scored 30 more. He currently has four goals and six points in four games.

The chemistry exhibited by these three cannot be ignored any longer. Long gone are the days where three guys played together for a season or multiple seasons. Now coaches are always looking for the right mix and will mix and match lines. I happen to believe this is the wrong approach. Teams should be built the way the Islanders are building theirs. If you fine three guys who exhibit some chemistry and you stick with it.

To start the season Nino Niederreiter was slotted to play with Tavares and Moulson. Is it a stroke of luck that he pulled his hamstring and is now on injured reserve? The Islanders first line is in tact and should stay that way no matter what. These guy are playing like they are wirelessly connected and that is something you simply cannot teach.

Islander head coach Jack Capuano has a lot of other pieces besides his first line which should remain together untouched. I love the aspect of the high draft pick and two guys that Garth Snow plucked off the scrap heap and are now lighting up the NHL. He should absolutely try and find two more lines with chemistry and absolutely not touch the first line. They should lead the Islanders this season if the first four games are any indication.

It works. Stick with it and ride it for as long as it can possibly lasts. If its one month, great. If its the whole year, great. If its the rest of these young men's careers, great.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New York Islanders: Offense Wakes Up, DiPietro Concussed

The Islanders season is three games old and this season already is different from the past few years in quite a few ways.

First of all the Islanders came into this season with a positive on ice outlook for the first time in many years. That in of itself is a major change.

In addition to that the Islanders came into this season with stability, a powerful young offense teeming with potential to improve on a very sucessful second half last year. They have an expereinced veteran defense with a few young stars on the rise and rookies ready to step in if anyone falters or gets injured.

The Islanders also have a lot of depth in goal, with Al Montoya, Rock DiPietro, Evgeni Nabokov all on the main roster with 2 excellent prospects backing them up yes the Islanders are deep, young and very talented.

The offense was non existend against the Panthers on opening night and struck twice in game two against the Minnesota Wild.

Last night the Islanders faced their most skilled opponent yet in the Tampa Bay Lightning and quite simply rolled right over them chasing ex team mate Dwayne Roloson out of the net and beating the Lighting 5-1.

The Islanders first line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and PA Parenteau skated like they were joined by some new Apple technology bridghing thier brains together and frustrated Tampa's veteran defense which includes Zdeno Chara wanna-be Victor Hedman.

Al Montoya was sharp again stopping 34 of 35 shots and the defense was poised and calm against a high powered offense forcing most shots tot he outside of the prime shooting areas.

Rick DiPietro came into this season healthy for the first time in four years and came in with a much improved attitude knowing that he had a lot of competition in the crease this season. Not only did he come in healthy but he also looked very sharp in pre-season games giving fans hope that he would become the all star goalie again we all know he can be.

Then something very familiar happened.

Brian Rolston hit him in the temple with a shot in practice causing a concussion that has Rick out indefinitely. Is there anyone that you can think of that has had worse luck than Rick? Rick did everything right so far this year and for his troubles gets rung like a bell by a shot in practice.

Rick should stay far away from Atlantic City and Las Vegas because his luck cannot possibly get any worse. The Islander fans while skeptical DP can regain his pre injury form had some hgope with his performance in pre-season. Now they say oh well it is a good thing we have Nabokov now.

I cannot help but feel awful for Rick. Yes that's me, an electrical contractor making a small fraction of what Rick makes feeling bad for a guy who gets to play pro sports and make millions of dollars. All the guy wants to do is play and show everyone he can still be a number one goalie and now this.

I hoe this is not a major issue for Rick and he can come back in quickly and get a few games under his belt. I remain a skeptic, but that does not mean i cant root for the guy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New York Islanders: Laying an Egg On Opening Night

In the grand scheme of the season that is about to unfold the 2-0 shutout loss to the Panthers on opening night really is not that big of a deal and is not indicative of how this season will unfold for the young Islanders.

What it did do was disappoint a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd that was absolutely jacked at the start of the game. As the game unfolded you could feel the frustration and dissapointment in the Coliseum. That is something the Islanders cannot afford to do.

Fans who went to the game to see the young Islanders take the first steps of a season filled with opportunity and expectations all left disappointed. Short of Al Montoya's performance there was nothing for fans to point at and say "yeah, well at least.."

The game was a total bust.

The sad part is that so many of the Islander fans that showed up were leaving the Coliseum who were going to stop by the box office and buy tickets if they were impressed by what they saw left saying "no, I'm not spending money on that team."

The Islanders had the chance to come out flying and feed off of the rabid crowd at the start. Instead they came out like it was a mid December game that had no meaning. Call it nerves, call it what you will no matter how young they are the team is a group of professional athletes. The effort on opening night was inexcusable.

Is it a reason to panic?

No one is panicking yet but the Islanders better show their fans that there is a reason to be optimistic pretty soon starting with Monday's game against the Minnesota Wild. That is unless they want to play in front of a half empty coliseum. Everyone knows that the Nassau Coliseum is not going to draw anyone to see the Islanders play. The only thing that will draw people to see the Islanders is wins and exciting hockey.

That is not what we saw opening night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New York Islanders: Expectations High For a Change

Do not look now, but it appears that the New York Islanders have earned a bit of respect in the NHL circles.

Predictions still have the Islanders for the most part finishing out of the playoffs but not at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Thats progress, but well short of what this team is capable of doing.

Now that that is out of the way let us look at what is apparent about the Islanders that has not been apparent in the past. The NHL season begins on October 6th and the Islander begin their campaign Saturday the eighth against the revamped Florida Panthers.

What can we expect from this group? Seriously?

The Islanders who failed in another bid for a new arena that has been an anchor around the teams neck for a while, seems to have been pushed to the side for the time being while the politicians and the powers that be fumble around looking for a new solution to the arena issue.

Belmont Park, A new complex on site with a parking garage, all that will be sorted out at some point.

Let's focus on the team itself on the ice.

The Islanders young core has a few additions this season to add to the mix. Notable adds are Marty Reasoner who will essentially take the place of Zenon Konopka in the Islanders lineup is also capable of killing penalties, winning face-offs and scoring the occasional goal.

Former long time Devil Jay Pandolfo has also been added to the mix and should provide some veteran leadership to the group and is a capable third or forth line penalty killer.

Veteran defenseman Steve Staios has the chance to make a nice impact to bring stability to the Islanders defense and will most likely be paired with the returning from injury Mark Striet.

Evgeni Nabokov has decided to continue his career with the Islanders and play out his contract and at the very least brings the Islanders a veteran net minder who has had a lot of NHL success under his belt.

Ryan Strome has signed a three year entry level deal and will at least get the obligatory nine game look to see if he can be the next 18 year old to crack an NHL line up. Odds are he goes back to juniors but there is always the chance he "wows" the Islanders brass to stay for the season.

Nino Niederreiter has made the team also and will likely get some top six forward minutes as he starts his full time NHL career. He has been hampered with a minor injury but saw time with John Tavares and Matt Moulson in the pre-season.

Brian Rolston is a serviceable forward who should be able to help the team across the board in all aspects of the game most notably penalty killing and giving the team three lines that are a scoring threat.

The new comers give the Islanders a couple of proven NHL veterans to lean on when the young Islanders either start to crack under the pressure of a long NHL season or need a guy who has "been there" to speak to about remaining consistent over an 82 game NHL season.

The Islanders biggest problem as of late seems to be the issue of remaining consistent and avoiding a season killing win-less or losing streak.

Every team has losing streaks, the key is to minimize the damage and get past it before it manages to kill your season.

From top to bottom the Islanders put what can be the most complete NHL team the franchise has seen since the 2002 season.

Dare I say this, the goaltending appears to be solid with the addition of Nabokov, the return of Al Montoya and the resurgence of Rick DiPietro who has had a solid pre season and managed to stay off injured reserve so far.

The defense is back and healthy from top to bottom.

The forwards are young, hungry, talented and have been spotted with a few veterans to steady the ship through the rough patches.

The team has stated that they think the rebuild is over and the time to win is now.

I whole heatedly agree that. The old barn in Uniondale will be a fun place to be this year and I am not talking about Rhianna concerts and monster truck rallies.

Friday, September 9, 2011

NHL: The Summer of Tragedy Darkens the Hockey World

Never before has the NHL seen such a summer.

Some aspects of it were just like any other summer in the NHL. Free agents became rich, some players were over paid, some were underpaid. Some player retired with huge fanfare, some retired with little or none. Some are still not signed to contracts. Some are unwanted. Some chose to continue their careers in other leagues scattered around the world.

Hockey is a worldwide sport and players looking to extend careers or revitalize them have many professional leagues around the world to choose from if the playing in the NHL is no longer an option.

The one league that has stepped up and really tried to offer players competitive salaries is the 18 team Russian based Kontinental Hockey League, otherwise known as the KHL.

European and Russian players are not only looking at the KHL as a back up plan to the NHL, but a league where they can stay close to home and play the sport they love.

When former NHL All-Star Pavol Demitra decided to leave the NHL and continue his career in the KHL I am sure he knew he would be giving up some of the luxuries of playing in the NHL.

I highly doubt that in his mind he thought he would be tragically killed in a horrific plane crash while heading to his first game in his new league with his new team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. the crash claimed the lives of everyone on board with the exception of one crew member and one player, Alexander Galimov who survived but are in critical condition.

To gauge the tragedy in terms we as hockey fans can understand, for one moment close your eyes think about how you would feel if God forbid your favorite hockey team suffered such a horrific fate.

The feelings go beyond just hockey. This is life and death.

As if the plane crash that claimed the lives of so many was not enough, earlier this summer the NHL lost three other players in three separate incidents.

New York Ranger player and former Minnesota Wild fan favorite Derek Boogaard passed away to an apparent lethal mix of alcohol and pain killers.

Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien who battled depression for years claimed his own life in an apparent suicide.

Nashville Predators defenseman Wade Belak was also a victim of depression and though authorities have not announced his cause of death, but suicide is feared to be the means.

These 4 separate events all in total mark the darkest summer in NHL history and something that will haunt the sport of hockey's players, personel and fans for many years to come.

Think of lone Lokomotiv surviving player Alexander Galimov, if he does survive, and that is a big if, what kind of life will he have knowing that all of his team mates did not make it, and he did? One hopes that he will be spared and can live a healthy long life. Lets not forget about the surviving crew member who will also battle the same issues, if they survive.

Soon the puck will drop on the 2011-12 NHL season and lets hope that the NHL pays tribute to those lost no matter the circumstances and reminds everyone of the importance of air safety.

The NHL should also have psychiatric care available for players who need it. It is time for professional sports leagues to try and help players where they can. If it saves one life, then it is worth it.

KHL officials have already said that Lokomotiv will play this season that the other 17 teams will donate players and that they will promote players from its "youth team" to fill out the roster.

Let us hope that Russian aviation takes this as a calling card to improve their bad safety record so that this tragedy does not happen again to anyone.

Air safety should be 100%. Hopefully they get a wake up call as a result that will prevent future senseless deaths.

Prayers go out to the two survivors of the Lokomotive crash, and the families of all of the families touched by the tragedies of the darkest summer in the sport of hockey.

To see video of the ceremony in place of what was supposed to be the opening game of the KHL season, please click here:


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New York Islanders: New Coliseum Voted Down: You Cannot Defeat Stupidity

It is the enemy of progress on Long Island. Stupidity has killed the Lighthouse Project, and stupidity has now infected the 88,389 people who went to the polls yesterday to vote down progress.

88,389 people voted it down is because of three main reasons.

Reason 1) They are partisan, and will vote against anything that their political party does not endorse.

This is the main problem in this country. People will say no the economy is or the wars in the middle east are or the dependence on foreign oil is or the environment is.

The biggest problem in this country is partisan politics. Our founding fathers as far back as George Washington saw that this could become a problem which is why the day the Republicans and Democrats basically seized the power in this country was the day all of the problems were seeded.

Can you imagine living in a world where people ignore what is morally right and wrong and make all of their life decisions based on what their political party tells them to?

We are in that world people.

Reason 2) They are misinformed.

No voters say Charles Wang is a billionaire and he can afford to build it himself. This statement shows one thing. People are misinformed. Nassau County owns the land the Nassau Coliseum sits on as well as the building itself. The people want Charles Wang to build an arena on land that is not his and donate $350 million to build it?

If Charles Wang owned the land or the county sold it to him then you would have a point with this, but he doesn't. Hey as long as the "no" voters want Wang to build stuff for free, maybe he can build me my new kitchen for free too. Hey he can afford it right?

No Voters also said "I will not vote for anything that increases my taxes." OK. Every year our school taxes go up an average of 5-12%. How does this happen? Oh yes, WE VOTE TO INCREASE THEM IN THE SCHOOL BUDGET VOTES IN MAY.

Critics of the project said that taxes in a worse case scenario would increase $58 dollars a year. That is $1.12 per week. Keep in mind that this was a one time increase. Keep in mind not an increase every year like our school budgets but a one time increase.

Unlike school budgets where districts tell the voters "vote for the kids" and do not offer any information as to where the increases every year are actually going but at the very least we knew where our $1.12 per week was going.

Don't people realize that in the case that the Islanders leave Nassau County and the Coliseum closes as a result, that all of the people that work at the Coliseum will be our of work, all of the tax revenue collected by events at the Coliseum will be gone, all of the people that came to all of the events at the coliseum wont be coming to Nassau County to spend money shopping or eating, boosting the local economy.

Lets not mention what will happen with the coliseum site. What will they put there? A shopping mall? Office buildings? Hotels? Senior Housing? Assisted Living?

Yeah, I know what your thinking, that's exactly what Long Island needs, more of what we have to much of.

Reason 3) They are stupid - Being smart and rational thinker is not a requirement to vote in the United States, but it should be.

This is a statement quite a bit of the no voters used. "Why do I have to pay for a new arena? I can go to Madison Square Garden or the new Brooklyn arena to see a show and pay nothing."

Is gas free? Are train tickets free? Is parking in New York City free?


This is another statement no voters told reporters on the way out of the polls -

"Traffic and taxes are two things I don't want." Talk about dense.

Here is another gem.

"The Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Nets are all built new arenas and stadiums with private money and it didn't cost me anything, so why should I pay for this?"

Yankee Stadium and CitiField were built with tax free bonds that otherwise would have been collected by the state and the city. Yes, that is tax dollars that should be in the city and states coffers that they signed off on letting go.

The land that Yankee Stadium is built on was DONATED by the city until the project was completed. Then the city took the land that the old stadium was on, which is far smaller by the way than the land the stadium currently occupies.

Where did the land come from that the new Nets arena in Brooklyn come from? Imminent Domain. Yeah, that's a way to build a fan base in Brooklyn. Tell your residents to leave your home and take this check so we can build a sports arena.

How did the Giants and Jets help finance their new stadium? Extortion. Oh excuse me they offered their fans "Personal Seat Licences" for the right to buy season tickets. Yes, in order to keep seats that many fans have had for many years, fans had to pony up thousands of dollars per seat for the right to even purchase the tickets they have already been paying for.

Has the average fan tried to buy a ticket for a Yankee, Met, Ranger or Knick game lately? If you did, you would find that for a family of four for seats that will impress no one you would have to pay at the very least $500.00 to anywhere around $1600.00 just for the tickets.

The average fan cannot afford it. This is something that was not true for the Islanders. Sure pro hockey is not cheap, but you could spend $160.00 and take a family of four to the Coliseum for a game and sit where you know, you can actually see all of the action without binoculars.

Who knows what is next but we are back to square one. We are guaranteed only one thing and that is four more seasons of Islanders hockey in Nassau County. If County Executive Ed Mangano has a plan B, he better get to it soon just do not depend on the intelligence of your voters to get it done.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New York Islanders: The Real Truth Behind the Arena Project

Im sitting here trying to fond the angle to play with this article and decided to go and talk frankly about what is going on at the moment.

First a little background on what has been done to this point.

Charles Wang bought the Islanders for many reasons. One being most prominent is that he is a Long Islander and wherever he went, people said hey Mr. Wang, help out us Islander fans and buy the team.

Men like Charles Wang, who admittedly did not know much of anything about the sport saw something in the Islanders back then that not a lot of other people saw, value.

Maybe not in the horrid attendance figures and equally as bad performance but he saw value on the team.

Financial value.

Charles Wang had a vision for the Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area and he figured if he owned the team well then it would put him at the forefront of the battle that was to be had over the 77 acre Nassau Coliseum area.

The Nassau Hub project if you will is something that has been talked about for many years dating back to the 1980's.

I will not go through all of the plans that have been put forth because for whatever reason none of them ever made it past the planning stage.

Charles Wang has a much more grandiose vision of what was to be placed on the site.

The Lighthouse Project was a complete area make over with e new renovated arena and tha fully developed 77 acre development plan that was so big and so huge that the idea that someone wanted to build such a project in Uniondale was mind boggling.

Price tags of between three and four billion dollars was what it was going to cost.

Charles Wang brought on a partner for this project in the Rexcorp, only the largest and most successful real estate developer on Long Island.

He was serious and he was going to finance the project himself.

Yes you saw that right.

The project went through most of the legal hurdles and tens of millions of dollars was spent.

The Town of Hempstead effectively killed the monster project saying it was to dense for Nassau County.

This put us back at square one.

Enter Ed Mangano.

In a stunning upset, Ed Mangano unseated incumbent Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

So where did this leave the development of the area?

Mangano decided to get everyone to the table, The main entities in the deal are Nassau County, The Town of Hempstead and Charles Wang.

They all agree on one thing. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum needs to be replaced. It is outdated and way past its prime as a new arena has been talked about on the site as far back as the late 1980's.

They all came up with the plan that will be voted on by Nassau County residents August 1st at a special referendum to see if the people of Nassau County agree with their elected officials on whether the arena should be replaced with County money.

They want to borrow 350 million dollars to pay for the project and another 50 million for a minor league baseball park.

Here is the kicker. opponents of the project say that residents of Nassau County are in effect voting themselves a tax increase if they vote yes on August 1st.

That sounds bad right? No one likes new taxes do they?

Well how much more taxes are we talking about?

That number is in dispute but here is the range of money were talking about.

Anywhere from $18 to a worst case scenario of $58.

Wow. that sounds like a lot of money to pay extra every month.

Wait a second. Its not monthly? Its YEARLY?

So the big problem people have is that people will have to eat a monstrous 31 cents to $1.12 PER WEEK to pay for a new arena, and that is if the profits the new arena would take in does not cover the debt service.

Hey if that's the case, sign me up for 3.

So obviously money is not the issue here, unless there are people who are going to go into bankruptcy from an extra 31 cents to $1.12 per week on their tax bill.

Opponents of the project are plain and simple resorting to the one thing that is ruining not only life on Long Island, its making it awfully hard for this country to get anything done.

Newsday, owned by Cablevison and the same entity that owns the Rangers, which just so happens to own the currently being renovated Madison Square Garden. So ask yourself this question: With the new arena being constructed in Brooklyn, do you think the Dolans want another brand spanking new state of the art facility in their market as competition for the Garden?

While your thinking about that think about this: Remember how crazy the Dolan's went when the Jets wanted to put their stadium in Manhattan?

Yeah, I am really sure Jim Dolan would be crying a river if the new Coliseum does not get built.

Don't forget that Jim Dolan owns Newsday, you know, Long Island's newspaper.

The next major stinkfest at work here mucking up the water is partisan politics. Something that is so prevalent in today's American society that the stench of it reaches all the way to Washington DC.

Do you think the Democrats, who are still shell shocked from losing the Nassau County executive position to the Republicans want Mangano and the GOP to get credit for getting that new arena?

Partisan politics is something that could kill anything it touches because it is in my mind a mindless creeping disease that only serves to get worse over time.

There is no one, and i do mean absolutely no one who thinks that the Nassau Coliseum does not need to be replaced.

Everyone agrees that Long Island cannot afford to lose all the good that comes from having such a venue to go to without having to go to Brooklyn or Manhattan not just to see a hockey game, but for anything.

Pro Wrestling, Ice shows, circus events, Disney on Ice, Concerts the list goes on and on.

Yes the Islanders need a new home, we all know that. But this goes way beyond what the Islanders need. This is what Long Island and Nassau County needs. I would absolutely love to be able to bring my kids not only to an Islander game or two at this venue but maybe go see Monday Night Raw without having to sit uncomfortable in the seats that are so bad.

I am a Life long Nassau County resident. I am voting myself a tax increase tomorrow and for the first time I will know exactly where that tax money is going.

Can anyone tell me exactly where my tax increase dollars are going when I vote for a 4-12 percent school tax increase? They get over 56 million dollars to run my school district. Why do they need such a mammoth increase every single year?

Yet we keep doing it because of the signs they plaster all over the place that say "Vote for the Kids."

People will vote themselves anything as long as it is for the kids.

This arena is not for the kids. Its for EVERYONE.

You will hear account after account of people saying why we should vote no tomorrow.

They blame Chalres Wang for not building the arena with his own money.

Yeah OK, the guy is going to build something that essentially isn't his?

Everyone knew that his money went away when the Town of Hempstead killed the Lighthouse project.

Everyone says well the Giants, Jets, Mets and Yankees all built their new sports venues not with public money, but with private money.

Really? Really? REALLY?

Where did the land come from that the new Yankee stadium is built on? Where did the money come from to help pay for the new Football stadium in East Rutheford? How many tax breaks did the four of the richest sports franchises in the United States get to build their palaces?

The answers are right in front of you - in one way or another out of your pocket.

Instead of thinking about what Partisan politics or financial agendas are telling us to do why don't we look at that building sitting on Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale and let that tell us what the right thing to do is.

Please post your comments below and if you would be so kind as to tell us why you think it should be a yes or no vote.

Monday, July 18, 2011

NHL Free Agency: Why the Islanders Should do Everything to get Drew Doughty

Opportunities like this do not come around often if it even is an opportunity.

Drew Doughty is arguably one of the best defensemen in the NHL and he is a free agent at the age of 21.

Yes I know he is a restricted free agent and signing him is not as simple as throwing the most money at him.

The Kings have the right to match any contract Doughty chooses to accept.

It is no secret the Islanders have the most cap space in the NHL right now and have millions and millions of dollars to spend to even just get to the NHL's mandated salary cap floor of $48.3 million dollars.

Meaning that if the Islanders are going to be salary cap compliant for this season they need to add about $9 million dollars in salary as per the current league rules.

Yes you read that right.

So how are they going to do that? they must have a bunch of restricted free agents to sign right?


The Islanders currently have three RFA's on the team. Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau and Jesse Joensuu.

Assuming the team resigns all three players, that would likely leave around five to six million to spend.

So where are they going to spend it.

I say Garth Snow: go out and do everything humanly possible to get Drew Doughty in Islander colors.

So what would it take to get him?

Well the Islanders would have to sign him to an offer sheet so extremely high that the Kings would walk away from their right to match or work out a trade.

Let us explore the most likely way it could happen and that is trade. What do you trade for a 21 year old all star defenseman?

Realistically, were talking a package of Calvin de Haan, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and two first round draft picks.

Then there is the matter of actually signing Doughty but that is something that Islanders GM Garth Snow should already have an idea of what it will take because Doughty is a free agent so negotiations could have already begun.

The other route is signing Doughty to a over priced offer sheet that the Kings would not be able to or unwilling to match.

How much would it take?

The Kings have just over nine million in cap space right now. So any deal with Doughty would have to be over that amount.

The beauty of it is is that if you sign Doughty to lets say a three year, 36 million dollar contract you would be paying him an average of 12 million dollars a season.

The Kings would not be able to match that and be cap compliant.

If they refuse to match, the Islanders would then have to pay restitution to the Kings in the form of four first round draft picks.

Either case the Islanders should be exhausting all avenues to get Drew Doughty if at all possible on his team.

Garth Snow, you want to show the world that the Islanders are for real?

I cannot think of a better way.

Can you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

NHL: Circumventing the Salary Cap: Why is it Allowed?

The NHL has the right to void contracts they feel circumvent the salary cap when they are presented to them when a player and an organization agree.

If this is the case, why have so many contracts been approved that so clearly are meant to get around the cap and lessen the cap hit over the length of the contract?

Lets examine some player contracts and why not go into the New York Rangers newest prized free agent signing Brad Richards.

The Rangers signed him to a nine year 60 million dollar contact, or an average of 6.6 million dollars a season. That doesn't sound so bad does it? Not on the surface it sure doesn't.

When you look closer it becomes more unsettling.

Looking at the contract it breaks down like this:

Year One - Age - 31 - Actual Salary: $12,000,000
Year Two - Age - 32 - Actual Salary: $12,000,000
Year Three - Age - 33 - Actual Salary: $9,000,000
Year Four - Age - 34 - Actual Salary: $8,500,000
Year Five - Age - 35 - Actual Salary: $8,500,000
Year Six - Age - 36 - Actual Salary: $7,000,000

Here is where it gets interesting.

Year Seven - Age - 37 - Actual Salary: $1,000,000
Year Eight - Age - 38 - Actual Salary: $1,000,000
Year Nine - Age - 39 - Actual Salary: $1,000,000

OK so what is going to happen between years one through six and years seven through nine? Does Glen Sather have some magical crystal ball that says Richards production as a player is going to drop by 1,200 percent from the start of his contract?

No it is a clear and concise way of reducing the cap hit the Rangers will incur to 6.6 million from the 9.5 million it would have been in years one through six.

How can the NHL or anyone else for that matter look at this contract and say its all fine and dandy and is within the rules of the NHL CBA and allow such blatant breaking of the rules in this case?

Hey do not blame the Rangers for this. They are not at fault for this disturbing trend. the blame falls solely on the NHL for allowing the practice.

Sure the Rangers have given out massive contracts before most recently to Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury and they were sort of front loaded in Gomez' case starting at $10,000,000 and reducing to $4,500,000 in the final year of the seven year $51,500,000 contract.

Sure that is an over 100 percent drop in value but no where near as egregious as Brad Richards new contract.

Let's examine some other questionable contracts.

Chris Pronger at age 35 signed a seven year contract worth $34,500,000 for an average cap hit of just over $4,900,000. Here is how this one breaks down.

Year One - Age - 35 - Actual Salary: $7,600,000
Year Two - Age - 36 - Actual Salary: $7,600,000
Year Three - Age - 37 - Actual Salary: $7,200,000
Year Four - Age - 38 - Actual Salary: $7,000,000
Year Five - Age - 39 - Actual Salary: $4,000,000

If the contract ended there, no one would say anything about it.

Here is where the interesting part is.

Year Six - Age - 40 - Actual Salary: $525,000
Year Seven - Age - 41 - Actual Salary: $525,000

Does anyone actually think Chris Pronger is going to play two years of hockey for $525,000 at age 40 and 41? Something tells me Pronger will be celebrating his retirement after cashing the last of his paychecks exactly two years before his contract expires.

Here is another head scratching contract.

Roberto Luongo is 32 years old and at age 31 signed a twelve year $64,000,000 contract with the Canucks. Smart move by the Canucks to get this guy tied up for the rest of his career right?

How the NHL allowed this contract to be approved is beyond comprehension.

The contract breaks down like this:

Year One - Age - 31 - Actual Salary: $10,000,000
Year Two - Age - 32 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Three - Age - 33 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Four - Age - 34 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Five - Age - 35 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Six - Age - 36 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Seven - Age - 37 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Eight - Age - 38 - Actual Salary: $6,716,000
Year Nine - Age - 39 - Actual Salary: $3,382,000
Year Ten - Age - 40 - Actual Salary: $1,618,000
Year Eleven - Age - 41 - Actual Salary: $1,000,000
Year Twelve - Age - 42 - Actual Salary: $1,000,000

Now tell me how the Canucks are not using the final three years when Luongo will be age 40-42 and well on his way to playing golf full time to lower the cap hit of this contract.

The Organizations in question are not at fault. They will do whatever the league allows them to to get one step ahead of the rest of the teams in the NHL.

Why have some organizations, like the Toronto Maple Leafs come out publicly and called contracts like the ones highlighted above cheating?

Why has the NHL not stepped in and nipped this one in the bud so to speak before the practice became more common?

These are not the only contracts that employ such a practice. Ilya Kovalchuck is the only instance where the league said enough is enough. But they allowed his restructured contract which is just as insultingly cap hit lowering than the first one which is 15 years in length and worth $100,000,000.

The last 5 years of the contract pay him $8,000,000 out of the total value of the contract.

How was his voided 17 year contract any less ridiculous?

There are other players signed to equally questionable contracts, Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks, Ilya Bryzgalov of the Flyers and Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings.

The NHL tried to fix this with the "Kovalchuck Amendment" which says that if a player retires before the end of his contract then the cap hit stays on the teams payroll for the duration of the contract.

OK that may work, but then what is a players incentive to stay and play for pennies on the dollar when he is way past his prime? Loyalty? Not many players are Niklas Lidstrom that can win major NHL awards at age 40.

The only answer is to make the cap hit of a contract the actual value the player is being paid instead of the average of the contract.

At this rate, the Rangers could have paid Brad Richards $60,000,000 dollars this season and then $1 every year after.

The CBA leveled the playing field when it was ratified the salary cap was $39,000,000. Six years later it is $64,000,000. We are right back in the situation we were in before the salary cap was implemented. The players have to be laughing at the NHL for thinking they got the short end of the stick back then.

So what will happen when the CBA is opened again for negotiation? Will the NHL insist on an actual numbers salary cap or continue the average method that allows teams to so easily get around the salary cap?

Something has to be done. Hopefully it does not result in another lost season.

Please post your thoughts below.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 NHL Draft: Flyers Change Face of Team - What Will the Islanders Do?


That is all that needs to be said about what the Flyers did yesterday in trading 26 year old team captain Mike Richards and Leading scorer and fellow 26 year old Jeff Carter.

The question is why. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can wax poetic about how he needed the cash to sign Ilya Bryzgalov.

Way to make your new number one goaltender the franchise villain.

Bryzgalov needs to play well or the Flyers fans will destroy him.

I as an Islander fan am ecstatic the Flyers have chosen to essentially trade their two best players bringing them back down to earth in the Eastern Conference. Say what you want, the Flyers are not even close to being the team they were last year.

What team trades two 26 year old cornerstones that are locked up to reasonable long term deals?

Something is rotten in Philly, and the rest of the Eastern Conference has got to be happy about it.

Enough about the deconstruction of the Flyers.

The Islanders are set to pick at number 5 in the draft this year and where will the team go? A lot of that depends on who is taken in the four slots before them but I think we can safely say that the four players will be some combination of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Gabriel Landeskog and either Dougie Hamilton or Jonathan Huberdeau.

If the New Jersey Devils select Hamilton at four, should the Islanders select Huberdeau, another center? Or should they select Sean Couturier, who was once projected to go number one?

No matter that GM Garth Snow and his staff choose to go with, they will gain another large piece of the future here with the Islanders.

If Hamilton is there at five, then it is the fans opinion that Snow should grab him quick. He is a big bruising defenseman that every team needs.

If he is not there then I think the team should go for Couturier.

Unless Snow chooses to trade down. I hope he doesn't because the draft is deep but it is also thick at the top as the top 6 players are all very good prospects.

I will be at the draft party and it always is fun. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New York Islanders: 5 Reasons They Make the Playoffs in 2011-12 (Part 5)

We have reached the final part of our five part series in why the Islanders will make the playoffs in 2011-12.

So much has happened since this series began. The Islanders and Nassau County announced plans for a new arena and there will be a public vote for the project on August 1st. Public support would seem to be behind the project to a 65-70% positive range at the moment.

Once Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano's revenue sharing plan is announced it will go a long way into whether public support stays behind the project.

That brings us to the final piece of our five part series - intangibles.

So much of professional sports is not necessarily all having the most skilled players. We have seen time and time again that it is not the team with the biggest payroll or the biggest stars that wins every single Stanley Cup or any major championship for that matter.

Its the team that puts all of it together at the same time. You can see the similarities in the Islanders now that we saw in Chicago and Pittsburgh before they ascended to the top of the NHL. The talent is there. It is young but it is there.

All that remains for the Islanders to do is to put the pieces together mentally as a group.

Garth Snow and his staff have laid the foundation for a bright future and have built the team in a way that it will be possible to keep most of this same core group together assuming they take the next step. There are no seven, eight or nine million dollar per season players on this team to hamstring him from keeping his players should they blossom into full blown NHL stars.

The Chicago Blackhawks are a prime example of how signing guys like Brian Campbell to a ridiculous contract can hamstring you from keeping the goaltender who just won you a Stanley Cup and ushered guys like Dustin Byfuglien out of Chicago.

Some people would say it was worth it to win a Stanley Cup and they may be right, but that's not the way the Islanders are being built.

The Islanders are being structured as a team that is poised to stay together for the long haul. John Tavares will be the highest paid player on the team after his three year entry level contract expires and that's the way it should be. Michael Grabner just signed a five year contract. Matt Moulson signed a three year contract.

Its the perfect way to build an organization if you want to hold onto your players.

It will be no problem at all for the Islanders to keep what they have and if they so choose, add a mid level piece from outside the organization without breaking the bank.

Why is all this possible? Because of Garth Snow. He and his staff have put a group of guys in that Islander locker room that want to succeed on Long Island and recognize that they truly have a chance to be a part of something special.

Look at what happened to the team this season. After a brutal stretch of 21 games basically torpedoed any chance of the playoffs did the Islanders die on the vine and whine about how injuries killed the season?

No they turned the season around and made the rest of the NHL take notice and put together one of the top 3 records in the NHL after the all-star break.

Fans noticed also. The attendance at the coliseum rose in this period, yes buoyed by some outstanding ticket sales ideas but also by the Islanders solid play.

There was something even better brewing in the Islanders locker room.

Confidence and certainty.

Every Islanders season of the last lets say 15 years has begun and ended with uncertainty with the Islanders losing free agents to other teams or bringing in unproven guys to pick up the slack.

This season we know every major player on the roster will be back next year and beyond.

If you do not think that is a big deal to the guys in that locker room, your mistaken. Looking around the locker room at the end of the season seeing guys you know will be back and that you know you can be successful with means an awful lot.

That brings me to the fans. Everyone knows the Islanders rank near or at the bottom of the NHL in attendance. This past season the Islanders were dead last in overall attendance and percentage of capacity.

This fact is easily explained away for two reasons.

1) No one is coming out to see a bad team and let's face it, at one point this season the Islanders were dreadful. This is something that was easily remedied by one thing. Winning. No not the Charlie Sheen type of winning, the type the Islanders did in the last 30 games of the season.

Attendance rose at the end of the season because fans wanted to see first hand what this young group was up to that was winning so many games. Looking over the attendance numbers for the season, for the first 25 home games the Islanders had what in my mind is a "good crowd" of over 12,000 fans only FOUR times.

For the last 16 home games the numbers were way up overall and the Islanders had 11 games of 12,000 or more fans with four sell outs, the only four sell outs of the season.

As you can see if the Islanders play well people will come. This coming season if the Islanders can manage to stay in the top ten in the conference a heck of a lot more people will come to see them play.

You cannot imagine what that means to a young team to look up in the stands and see 3,500 fans in a 16,250 seat arena. That has to be disconcerting especially to young players.

At the same time, when you look up and see little or no empty seats that has to be like adrenaline again especially for young players.

Hopefully this season more Islander fans will come back to the Coliseum and see what Snow and company are building. The fans of the team are still there but they have had no confidence in what the Islanders were putting on the ice. Now that has changed. All that has to happen is for the team to take the next step and continue to build what they have started.

Secondly on top of the the strong player base the Islanders for once have great news brewing on an organizational level. Everyone knows the Islanders have a lease with Nassau County through the 2014-15 season. That date seemed so far away just a couple of seasons ago but guess what? It takes 2-3 years to physically build an arena. If your going to have plans to build one which can take up to 2 years you have to start the process well before the lease is due to end.

The powers that be for once have done it. Plans are laid down and the time frame is right for the Islanders to move into a new home arena on or about the 2014-15 season.

Players are already making note. Grabner stated on his Twitter page that he is excited about the news for the new arena. Now that plans are in place and the Islanders future would seem to be secure it can end almost two decades of uncertainty that surrounded the team on so many levels.

Soon we will be only worried about one thing. Hockey.

Thank You all for reading and please as always, place your comments below.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New York Islanders: 5 Reasons They Make the Playoffs in 2011-12 (Part 4)

First things first, my sincerest condolences go out to Derek Boogaard's family, friends and fans.

On the heels of the huge news that the Islanders may actually have a plan for a new arena and the signing of Michael Grabner to a five year contract may I present part four in a five part series of why the Islanders will make the playoffs in 2011-2012.

For this part we will examine the Islanders defense corps.

The Islanders were decimated by injury last season. We all know this. Their defense in particular was hit the hardest.

T`here are six defense positions on any NHL team for use in a game. Everyone knows that.

The Islanders had 13 different defensemen on their roster this season counting Mark Striet who did not play one game because of major shoulder surgery.

This fact in of itself could wind up being the reason the Islanders discovered what could be a defense pairing that will play together and grow as a unit for many years to come.

Andy MacDonald and Travis Hamonic have bright futures in the NHL. They consistently played as the Islanders number one defense tandem this season and played against the best the rest of the NHL had to offer and they did very well for themselves.

The two young defenseman also showed poise on the offensive side of the game also, scoring 27 points (MacDonald) and 26 points (Hamonic.)

Most impressive is that they were the only Islanders defesnemen to finish the season with plus ratings that played over 20 games. Doing that and playing against the NHL's best definitely proves that they are ready for the full time load of playing in the NHL and should start the year as the Islanders number two pair next season.

Returning Islanders veteran defenseman Mark Striet will be back at next season. Hopefully he can return to form and lead the Islanders power play and not show any ill effects from missing an entire season from such a major operation.

If he returns to form he will bring what the Islanders most sorely lacked this year and that is a power play puck moving offensive threat.

The Islanders power play sorely missed him as he provides the presence on the offensive side of the game that a team needs to have a successful power play.

Also returning from injury are a trio of steady veteran defensemen in Mark Eaton, Mike Mottau and Milan Jurcina.

On the young side Ty Wishart also played well in his 20 games this season after being aquired for goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

On a side note if the Tampa Bay Lightning should win the Stanley Cup this season Garth Snow should get a Stanley Cup ring as former Islanders Roloson and Sean Bergenheim are absolutely lighting it up for the Bolts.

Back to the subject at hand the Islanders also have young prospect Calvin de Haan who will challenge for a spot on the team straight out of camp and will probably make the team out of camp unless he takes a step back in his development.

Could Aaron Ness also make a case for a roster spot? What happens with Bruno Gervais who is a restricted free agent?

Having to many NHL capable defensemen is a great problem to have as this past season showed people get hurt and it pays to have people that can just step in and have the team not miss a beat.

The Islanders defense corps has it all. Size, veteran leadership, solid defense, speed and young players looking to crack the lineup. It boasts a solid base for the Islanders to build on this season knowing that the goaltending will not have to stand on its head every game to keep the Islanders in games because the defense will be solid.

The Islanders core of defenseman is a more than capable unit that will only grow better with time and it has Islander fans excited to see the next step of their development.

Please post your comments below.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New York Islanders and Nassau County to Announce New Arena Deal

Part 4 and 5 of the "Why the Islanders will make the Playoffs in 2012" will have to be put on hold for the moment.

This is the day that Islander fans have been waiting for for what seems like decades.

Today at an 11 AM press conference Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is inviting everyone under the sun to a press conference at Nassau Coliseum to announce plans to build a new 17,500 seat hockey, sports and entertainment arena for the New York Islanders on the site of the current Nassau Coliseum.

The press conference is open to the public.

Mangano will seek approximately 400 million for the project which includes 50 million dollars for a minor league baseball stadium on the Mitchell Field property.

August 1st 2011 will be the date the Nassau County residents can vote on whether to accept the deal or not.

Detractors will ask why should the county have to foot the bill when Charles Wang was ready to spend about four billion dollars to build the Lighthouse Project?

The answer is simple. Blame Kate Murray.

The tossed thousands of jobs and a much needed central project of Long Island away by rezoning the property in effect killing Charles Wang's legacy project.

The County will foot the bill, but the cost of the project would be offset by a revenue sharing plan that will pay for the cost of the project over the Islanders new 30 year lease to play in the new arena.

They are projecting the project to start in the Spring of 2012, with completion for the 2014-15 season.

The major hurdle right now is the voters have to vote yes on the referendum for the arena but once the economics behind how good a new arena will be for the area the vote should be a relatively easy one to pass.

The Nassau Coliseum is a venue that is becoming a difficult one to draw high end acts to.

A brand spanking new arena would change all of that.

It would change the perception that the Islanders are waiting to run from Long Island with the current lease expires in 2015.

The Islanders would instantly become relevant to free agents around the NHL and to its current players to stay here and build a winner.

With the Islanders current crop of young players lays the foundation. An arena deal in hand makes the team instantly credible.

Its a bright day for hockey fans all over New York. Ranger and Devil fans included. Rivalries are what make sports. With all three metro area teams on strong footing and with state of the art facilities makes the rivalries all that much better and could be a centerpiece for the NHL to build its northeastern coverage around.

Throw in strong franchises in nearby Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and you have an American hockey hotbed.

Let's vote it in August 1st and get this project done.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New York Islanders: 5 Reasons They Make the Playoffs in 2011-12 (Part 3)

For Part three of this five part series, we will examine something that is not as black and white as scoring goals and stopping pucks.

Its called respect and perception.

How is this beginning to change? The Islanders still finished in the bottom 5 in the standings after all.

Well firs things first in order to change anyone else's perception that your just not a bottom feeding franchise any more you have to first start believing it yourself.

It is not good enough to say it, but truly believing it.

As this season wore on and the Islanders were mired in one of te worst losing streaks in franchise history it would have been so easy to say "well its the Islanders, they are supposed to suck."

Enter Jack Capuano. No one was impressed when the Islanders fired Scott Gordon and promoted Bridgeport Head Coach Jack Capuano, figuring he was just going to ride out the rest of the season and the Islanders would begin their search for the right guy to try and bring the Islanders out of the doldrums.

Then something happened. The Islanders started to take to "Cappy's" new system which afforded the players the opportunity to go out and show their creativity and individual talents on the ice.

How long ago does it feel the Islanders replaced Gordon with Capuano? It seems like ages.

Instead of wondering where Scott Gordon wanted them to to be on the ice in any given situation the players were given an outline and told "use your instincts."

The Islanders managed to pull themselves up and be competitive. Not only that, bolstered by solid goaltending from Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin the Islaneders managed to have one of the best records in the NHL after the all star break and look really good doing it.

Players like Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic blossomed before our eyes.

Players like PA Parenteau, Matt Moulson and Al Montoya showed us that other teams were wrong for not promoting them to larger roles.

Players like Zenon Konopka, Trevor Gillies, Matt Martin and Michael Haley showed us that the Islanders were not going to allow other teams to take liberties with our players, despite some questionable methods.

John Tavares showed he is becoming the player the Islanders will be able to build around.

This group of Islanders players believe in themselves. The have a solid foundation for once that is yielding results on the ice and it showed in the way they played the final 35 games of the season.

People noticed. It took the news making Islanders 9-3 victory over the Penguins to get people to notice, but it worked. Say what you want about that game but it got people talking. It got people interested. The Islanders said in that game we are not a team that are going to allow other teams to come in here and do what they want to us any more.

Other teams that saw the Islanders on their schedule the last 35 games of the season realized that they were not going to just walk all over the Islanders and have an easy win.

That means a lot also. Perception. If a team does not respect you and knows it can beat you up easily, take cheap shots at your star players, can count on your goalie letting in softies and porous defense then nine times out of ten that is exactly what is going to happen.

All that changed this season.

Islanders fans always want to believe in the team. For the first time in a long time attendance increased at the end of the season as the teams performance improved.

Say what you want about Nassau Coliseum. Everyone knows its a dump and the worst arena in the NHL. The bottom line is that if the Islanders manage to become a winning franchise the arena situation will not matter and people will come. People do not come to arena to see the arena. They come to see their team win hockey games. Win enough of them and ala Field of Dreams, people will come.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New York Islanders: 5 Reasons They Make the Playoffs in 2011-12 (Part 2)

For Part 2 we will examine the state of the goaltending for the Islanders.

Ever present is Rick DiPietro with his 11 years remaining on his contract.

Rick has suffered through major injury after major injury the past three seasons and his health is always a major question.

Showing very brief flashes of his former self in the 26 games he got to play this season Rick's come back was shall we say, unremarkable?

Some would call it down right awful as Rick had the lowest save percentage and highest goals against average of any goaltender in the entire NHL who played 20 games or more.

All this being said Rick will be back in 2011-12 barring another injury. Can he turn it around?

That question is still way up in the air but the answer to it says that the Islanders could be in a position to contend for a playoff spot next season and they will not be able to afford to throw games away any more while Rick tries to find his game.

That is what the AHL is for.

You read it here first. If Rick does not perform somewhere close to the level he has been capable of in the past then Garth Snow will be forced to send Rick to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers much like the Rangers did with Wade Redden.

The thing is I believe Rick still has game in him. How much he can help the Islanders is anyones guess. I am rooting hard for him and if the Islanders fans I have spoken to are any indicator as to what the support for Rick amongst the fan base is well let me just say his support is waning.

Rick will be an employee of the New York Islanders for at least next season, but he may be wearing out the Port Jefferson Ferry.

He is also not immune to a buy out as Islanders owner Charles Wang has done in the past with monster contracts. Alexei Yashin anyone?

Rick aside the Islanders have some viable choices with another amazing pick up by Garth Snow when he plucked Al Montoya out of goaltender hell in San Antonio, the AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes and stuck him in as the number one goaltender because of injuries to DiPietro, Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen the trading of Dwayne Roloson and the immaturity of Evgeni Nabokov.

What the Islanders got was nothing short of remarkable. Montoya played 20 games for the team going 9-5-6 with a sterling 2.39 goals against average and an equally sterling .921 save percentage.

Montoya earned the first one way contract of his career and will be an Islander next season.

So if Rick is to spend time in Bridgeport barring a career resurgence, who will be the number two man?

Kevin Poulin, a young 20 year old just out of junior was lighting up Bridgeport with a .932 save percentage and a 2.19 goals against average in 15 games. There was no way his success would translate to the NHL right?


In 10 games Poulin posted a 2.44 goals against average and a .924 save percentage in the NHL before a freak knee injury ended his season.

He will be back next season and if Rick falters or gets injured then the young net minder may just up and take his spot.

In any event the future of the Islanders crease with or without Rick DiPietro is secure.

What about Evgeni Nabokov? Well the Islanders are going to toll his contract meaning he will be Islander property next season. Whether that is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen. He can't likely be traded as the rules governing his contract still apply because basically its the same contract he signed last season.

If the Islanders were to trade him, he would again have to pass through waivers before he could be dealt.

Maybe coming in at the end of the season this year makes more sense to Nabokov now. If it doesn't it sure will when he is sitting on his couch in San Jose watching what is left of his career tick away.

In any event, the Islanders would appear to be set in net.

Place your comments below.

Stay tuned for Part 3 - Respect and how the Islanders are getting it back.

5 Reasons the Islanders Make the Playoffs in 2011-12: Part One

People keep asking me - Where is all of this optimism surrounding the Islanders come from?

So I figured what better way than to give specific reasons why the Islanders will be playing meaningful games in April and maybe May of 2012.

This article will be the first in a five part series looking into the reasons the Islanders resurgence will continue into next season and beyond.

Part 1) Goal Scoring/Line Consistency. For the first time in what has to be 5 years the Islanders top 6 forward core knows who it is going to be, barring injury of course.

The top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau returns in tact which Tavares is coming off leading the team in points and scoring 29 goals and 67 points.

That total should improve next season as Tavares matures into the player Islanders fans cheered for the team to draft a couple of years ago.

Matt Moulson second on the team with 53 points with 31 goals showed the world he was no one hit wonder and PA Parenteau, a player who has enjoyed only a cup of coffee in the NHL until this season netted an impressive 20 goals and 33 assists.

As the season wore on and Islander fans got used to a perennial AHL player in Parenteau teaming with our prized player in Tavares we realized that this guy has skill and is an excellent play maker which is why he complemented Tavares and Moulson so well.

Hopefully this unit can continue to grow together and take the next step forward.

The Islanders were not a one line team this season either.

General Manager Garth Snow made his second excellent waiver wire pick up in two seasons when he picked up Michael Grabner from the Florida Panthers after he failed to impress their new top brass.

Florida's loss like the Kings with Moulson the year before, was most certainly the Islanders gain.

Grabner started the year in a not to eventful fashion chipping in the occasional goal and impressing the heck out of everyone with his blazing speed.

Once he was paired with Islanders center Frans Nielsen all hell broke loose. Grabner started to score goals at a frenzied pace winning NHL player of the month honors and earning himself a Calder Trophy nomination scoring 34 goals, with 6 of them short handed.

Frans Nielsen surprised a lot of people this season. Never in any Islander fans wildest dreams could we imagine the kind of season he put together especially when paired with Grabner not only at even strength but short handed. He scored 13 goals this season, which in of itself is no big deal but then you look closer and realize that seven of them were short handed. He got 31 assists also and was a plus 13.

Sooner or later Nielsen could find himself nominated for a Selke Trophy.

Kyle Okposo came came from his major shoulder surgery and struggled early on but then got his legs and was able to mesh well with his line mates. He only scored 5 goals in 38 games but he showed flashes of the two way power forward he is capable of once he got his stamina back.

I don't know about you, but I look forward to seeing what these six players can put together next season.

The remaining 6 forward spots appear to be filled as well, with returning veteran banger Trent Hunter looking to rebound from a lost season. Hunter's offensive skills are not the best part of his game as he will never score over 20 goals again. However he provides a physical presence that the Islanders need as he loves to throw the body around. Hopefully he can stay relatively healthy.

Matt Martin and Michael Haley are ready to assume the roles of enforcers who can skate and chip in goals here and there.

Josh Bailey's 2010-11 season was a disappointment as he will look to rebound and show he belongs in the NHL. Bailey reminds me a lot of a former Islander prospect Tim Connoly. He is a play maker who has a nice wrist shot and is coming to a point where he is going to take the next step up. As Tim Connoly proved not every player is an impact player right out of the gate.

The Islanders also have a pair of rookies that will look to crack the line up next season also, as Nino Niederrieter has been dominating the WHL ever since the Islanders sent him back there after his nine game cup of coffee with the team.

Kirill Kabanov will bring his immense ego and talent to training camp to try and convince Jack Capuano to keep him here. If he performs like he has in the QMJHL playoffs in camp I'm sure he will get the obligatory nine game look come October.

Blake Comeau is another Islander player that is coming into his own netting a career best 24 goals this season and will also look to improve on those numbers and if he can mesh well with Josh Bailey can give the Islanders three lines that can score goals.

I also hope the Islanders bring back Zenon Konopka who turned into the Voice of the Islanders and instilled some pride in wearing the Islander crest in that locker room.

Will Trevor Gillies be back? I hope so. Its comforting knowing you have a top heavyweight enforcer to stick up for your young stars.

Garth Snow and his team of scouts have put together a very nice group of young forwards that can pretty much do everything. They can skate, pass, hit, fight, score and kill penalties.

Please leave your thoughts below.

Coming in Part 2 - Goaltending is a positive?! Absolutely.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New York Islanders: Is the Future Finally Here?

The 2010-11 season was like two mini seasons in one.

There was the first half where nothing looked any different.

Injuries were rampant.

Goaltending was porous.

Goals were hard to come by.

The defense was shoddy at best.

Progress of the younger players seemed to be at a standstill.

The coach was fired.

Then January came and everything seemed to turn around. No one really noticed until the Islanders decided to exact some street justice on the Penguins then the Islanders were on everyone's radar.

Call it what you want to call it I choose to call it the Islanders telling the rest of the NHL they still exist and are on their way back to prominence.

The Islanders had one of the best records in the NHL after the all star break and were consistently one of the hardest teams to play against.

Goaltending backstopped by Kevin Poulin and then Al Montoya solidified.

The defense, anchored by Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic vastly improved.

The offense, bolstered by the emergence of Calder Trophy nominee Michael Grabner and the continued development of John Tavares as well as Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen and PA Parenteau started to gel and produce.

Every one of the Islanders top players will be back next season and the injured Mark Streit will be back also.

Nino Niederreiter and Krill Kabanov are also favorites to make the team next season because they have been dominant in their respective leagues and appear NHL ready.

What does all this mean? It means the Islanders have the ability to be a playoff team again and really take that next step in returning to prominence in the NHL.

What will the Islanders line up look like next season line by line?

The first line will consist of John Tavares, looking to shatter the 30 goal mark, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau. If you would have told me PA would have played on the Islanders top line scoring 20 goals and getting over 50 points I would have laughed at you.

The unit gelled late in the season and will be back in tact with Parenteau signing a one year extension and Moulson getting a three year extension preventing both from going free agent.

That in of itself, that the seam was able to hold onto a two time 30 goal scorer and a 20 goal scorer who would have otherwise been unrestricted free agents is a major victory.

The second line will consist of Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo. The stars of the line were Grabner and Nielsen who netted an amazing 13 short handed goals between them finishing first and second in the NHL in that department.

Okposo showed flashes of the promise he showed last season but struggled playing only 38 games after major shoulder surgery. He will be back 100% next season and should only make Grabner and Nielsen better.

The third line is where is gets a little more questionable as to who it actually may be because of all of the players the Islanders have on their roster. Being this is a speculative column I will take my best guess and say the third line will consist of Nino Niederrieter, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau.

It is time for "El Nino" to be in the NHL and until he is ready to take his place in the top 6 of the Islander forwards, which may actually be next year at some point. He will debut on the team next season. There is nothing else for him to prove for the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL.

He scored 36 goals and netted 60 points in 65 WHL games and has been carrying his team in the playoffs with eight goals and sixteen points in eight playoff games.

Its prime time for "El Nino."

Josh Bailey actually took a step back this season and was sent to Bridgeport where he regained some confidence and wound up with 28 points in 70 NHL games. It is so easy to forget that Bailey is only 21 years old as it seems as if he has been in the league for a long time.

He will look to rebound with the steady Blake Comeau who is also coming into his own after his 24 goal campaign this season.

The fourth line could be any combination of a few players, but I will go with the Islander resigning Zenon Konopka, and him playing with a rough and tumble line combination with Matt Martin and Michael Haley.

Yes I know I am leaving Trent Hunter out. He hasn't played a full season in 3 years and only played 17 games last season.

Hunter is a good banger and can clean up around the net but I question his durability.

I think if Hunter is healthy he could be on the 4th line in place of Haley with Haley being an injury replacement.

Another wild card could be Kirill Kabanov who is playing very well in the QMJHL right now and very well could be NHL ready for next season. If that is the case, then Haley starts in Bridgeport.

As we very well know around the Islanders there are always injuries and that is how guys like Hunter, Haley and Jesse Joensuu fit into the plans.

On defense the top tandem should be Milan Jurcina and Mark Streit providing the offense and defense one two punch.

Then we have Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald will both be back and playing together again and were the Islanders best defense tandem this season often playing against and very well against the opponents top players.

The 3rd defense tandem is totally up in the air as the Islanders have Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton, Ty Wishart, Jack Hillen, Mark Katic and Dylan Reese who could fill those two spots.

Who will it be? Ill go with Mottau and Eaton, just because they are the veterans with the most experience and could be a nice shut down tandem.

When someone gets hurt Katic and Hillen are next in like with Wishart right there also.

In goal, Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin should be the 1 and 2 goaltenders unless Rick Dipetro has some sort of career renaissance early next season or has a stellar pre season.

How can you look at the numbers Rick put up this season and say that's my number one goaltender.

Look at the numbers Poulin and Montoya put up, and there are your goaltenders for next season. Rick should be sent to Bridgeport to work on his game until he can consistently stop pucks.

What are your thoughts on what the Islander line up should be for next season?

Place your comments below.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New York Islanders Name Capuano Coach - Will Draft 5th

The Islanders took care of thier most obvious piece of business very quickly this off season dropping the "interim" title from Head Coach Jack Capuano giving him the organizations full support.

Capuano's overall numbers came in below .500 as far as winning percentage but remember he started in the middle of a losing streak that basically torpedoed the entire season.

It took the Islanders a while to get used to his new free system that he instituted which takes players abilities and allows them the freedom to use their own creativity as opposed to a strict X's and O's hockey by numbers that former coack Scott Gordon employed.

I am sure the Islander young core is supportive of this as Cappy is a very popular coach with the guys and tells it like it is.

With a young team this is very important as the Islanders can continue to grow knowing the coach that righted the ship and turned the Islanders into one of the toughest teams to play against after the All-Star Break.

The Islanders will probably also have to name a new team captain assuming Doug Weight retires and I am saying right now that man should be Mark Streit.

If not Mark Streit then who?

Kyle Okposo? John Tavares? Frans Nielsen?

It should be interesting who the team elects but from an on ice stand point is almost irrelevant.

What is more relevant is the Islanders got rooked out of the fourth overall pick in the draft by the eighth seeded New Jersey Devils winning the draft lottery with a staggering 3.9% of doing so.

Thats right people a team that just signed one of the best scorers in the NHL to a 15 year 100 million dollar contract won the draft lottery.

The Islanders will draft fifth and have another blue chip prospect to add to the long list of prospects already in the organization.

Should the Islanders stand pat at fifth and just take the best available player?

Should they trade down and pile up more draft picks?

Should they attempt to trade up and get one of the top prospects?

Or maybe, just maybe is this team ready to trade a draft pick for an established player to bolster the line up for a playoff run.

The main question is, who is available via trade? The biggest issue with that is you just never know who is available come draft day.

Odds are the Islanders will pick the best player at their position in the draft and move forward with the young core that showed so much improvement this season.

The coach is in place and the young core is stable and will all be back.

The veteran defense will be back from injury.

All signs point to the Islanders being out of the draft lottery for a long time.