A hearty congratulations to our friends at The Hockey News for actually including the NYI in their season preview issue that just came out. This is quite an accomplishment for the HN editors, who did the impossible in March. For their Stanley Cup Playoffs preview issue, they included 10 teams in the East - and left out the Islanders.
On a Hockey News sidenote, I do like Adam Proteau, a young and gifted columnist. This takes guts for me to admit publicly (well, in this little blog) because Garth wasn't thrilled with Proteau naming his signing of the Tank as the worst valued deal of the summer. I emailed Adam with a list of about a dozen reasons why he was wrong and Proteau told me his inbox had already been creamed by Islanders fans pointing out that Scotty Gomez had just as many goals and is making 7 mill more than Ruslan this season (don't mess with NYI fans!). And besides, hands-down the most mind-boggling signing of the summer was the lucrative long-term deal given to a talented and game former Islanders defenseman who's showing signs of breaking down after playing hard and hurt for so long.
Last year many experts made the mistake of picking the Islanders to do poorly because they completely overrated the impact of the Neil Smith saga. I remember asking John Buccigross of ESPN where he would have picked the NYI if Neil was still the suit watching from a private suite and he admitted he would have had us in the playoff hunt. My point was not to confuse the GMs whose primary work is done when the puck is dropped with the athletes on the ice or the men leading them behind the bench.
This year the press seems to be overrating the players we lost and undersestimating the players Garth added. Kinda funny that last summer these folks snickered at the additions of Viktor and Poti and now they are citing them as major losses.
No one's gonna argue two significant departures: the relentless and beloved Jason Blake, whom the Islanders decided to not offer a deal beyond three years (Jason signed with TO for five) and Ryan Smyth, whom the NYI made no secret they wanted back at almost any cost. But when we're adding up the goals lost and gained, I think we need to lose the idea that Garth needed to replace Ryan's 30-40 goals. As I'm reminded all the time, Ryan scored five for the NYI.
For at least the next two years, Bill Guerin will do a lot more than "replace" those goals lost. In the two months he's been with us, Guerin has been amazing before he's even played a game. A couple of weeks ago he showed up at the offices in Plainview. If it wasn't inspirational enough for the staff that the new captain walked up to everyone and introduced himself, he arranged for lunch for the whole crew. Then he made sure his major contribution to Islanders Inspire was finalized. Then he bought six season tickets.
Never been anything like it in Islanders Country in 20 years.
Guerin-Smyth for the next two years could be regarded as a wash, but I'll give an edge to Guerin because he wanted to be here and has acted like it's a privilege to be an Islander since the day Garth handed him the C.
Before we leave for Moncton, I'll get back on topic and explain in more detail why Ted's crew is being disrespected in the pre-season polls by a few wrongheaded experts...again.