Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I refuse to use a silly Streit play-on-words for a headline

Nothing wrong with tempering expectations, as Garth Snow did this weekend. The Islanders needed offense, power play help, a veteran defenseman and some flash and got all of that in one package called Mark Streit.

Let’s get all the quibbling out now: too much money, blah blah, blah…too many years, wah, wah, wah…he’s coming off one big year and he’s no Kenny Morrow in his own end, yadda, yadda, yadda...

This is unrestricted free agency in the National Hockey League on July 1. You see a player you want, a player who fits your team and fills a need, you simply go out and blow everyone else away with your best offer.

That’s what the Islanders did with Streit and this is what happened with every single signing that happened today. The teams that are waiting until tomorrow are going to find that the prices haven’t come down. Wait ‘til August if you want to go bargain-hunting. Richard Park aside, you usually get what you pay for.

I doubt Streit felt it necessary to tour the facilities on Hempstead Turnpike before agreeing to terms and saying, “I am an Islander.” I suspect Garth told him, "We really want you, we're prepared to do everything to get you, you'll play 25 minutes a game and we'll be counting on you."

My friends at the Montreal Canadiens love Mark Streit. They’re proud of the player he’s become the last few years. They knew he would be gone and are wishing him well. Across the board, you will hear raves about his integrity and, most crucially, his ability.

(Inevitable bitchy column out of Montreal about the Islanders over-paying for a one-dimensional guy from Switzerland in 5 seconds, 4 seconds, 3...)

I wrote yesterday that there were plenty of reasons for the Islanders to step up the plan and go after a Brian Campbell. Streit is not Campbell - despite the obvious stat comparison, let's be clear about that - but he's a terrific addition. As a bonus, he's a fun player to watch.

The Islanders work is not done with Streit. You don't just sign a player and stand by and watch him. I don’t care that Streit’s 30, accomplished and seasoned. Now it’s on the Islanders to put him in position to succeed. Now it’s on Ted Nolan and the coaches to get the best out of him. No one wants to hear that he got 60 points last season “because he played in that fast and wide-open Montreal system.” Nonsense.

You went after Mark Streit for his talent and his 60 points. Make it work.

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