Hi. Let’s wrap this up the way I came in. Me rambling, shooting from the hip, borderline incoherent…
Going out on a limb: every scribe will have the Islanders in the 10-15 range in their ’08-09 Eastern Conference predictions, somewhere among Atlanta, Florida and Toronto. And, of course, the Islanders will be very much alive in the playoff hunt in March.
One of the wild things about UFA week: by Day 3, teams are giving $3.5 million deals to players that weren’t even on the boards in the GM’s office – you know, the one with their “vision” – on Day 1. There’s a reason those boards are dry-erase.
Newsday had an impressive feature Sunday with a reporter on the front lines as Nassau police are on DWI patrol. Yet in the NHL there are still plenty of people who have a major problem with imbedding a reporter in that all-important pregame meeting for a regular season tilt.
It’s on the Islanders to continue to bring along Sean Bergenheim. He may only max out somewhere between a third and second liner, but I’m confident he can be a very effective player on a very good team. Let it be the Islanders.
Former Islanders who the mere mention of their names brings a smile: Bob Bassen and Steve Konroyd – the first two players to make me feel comfortable around the team, Trots, Kelly Hrudey, Jeff Hackett, Dennis Vaske, everyone on the ’92-93 team, Kaspar, Flats. That gutless puke Travis Green – a real good kid who became a real good man, smiling Mariusz Czerkawski – such a sweet man, he tried to hook me up in a Montreal bar. The “Sarge” Sergei Nemchinov, Roberto Luongo, Zdeno Chara – who once when visiting the office saw the staff doing a season ticketholder mailing and pulled up a chair and stuffed envelopes, Kenny Jonsson, Scatch, Mark Parrish and Jason Blake – the most impressively self-made player I ever saw. Wacky/driven as all hell but I love that guy.
One of the things I’ve missed is waking up Sunday morning, logging on to the New York Post and saying my prayer of hope that the Islanders are not roasted in Slap Shots by Larry Brooks. Funny thing about Larry: people take shots at him, but everybody reads him. Slap Shots is one of the few must-reads we have in the game. Brooks covered the dynastic Islanders, was an executive with the Devils and is the biggest hockey voice in New York, but has yet to be acknowledged by the Writers Association for the Ferguson Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I would hope this doesn't mean the honor is not about skill, impact and passion for the game but rather about something petty.
Has Snow tried to talk his friend Kenny Jonsson into coming back to Long Island? Garth was a goalie and knows how great KJ is, so of course he has...a few times. Kenny is most likely finishing his career in Sweden.
To my friends in the NY mainstream media resisting the horrible notion of ever joining this century and blogging, I urge you to re-consider. Look at some of the great work out there by Rich Hammond on the Kings, Mike Russo on the Wild, Sam Weinman's often loopy stuff on the Rangers and George Richards on the Panthers. Now, I assume these gents don’t put in all this work for free, but it would be nice to see more coverage circa the year 2008 from the local writers. Don’t worry: just because you blog doesn’t mean you will lose your Mainstream Media association card!
Yes, the Islanders need to win, and win big, to bring the fans back in huge numbers 41 regular season games a year. It would help tremendously, however, if the franchise is able to solve the dilemma of ho-hum corporate support on Long Island. Senior VP Chris Dey appears to be on a mission to boost local business support with the Islanders Business Club and other initiatives. This season should be a good test to see if the corporate market stands up before the Lighthouse comes to town.
As I said on XM, the reason why the Rangers still might work next season is because of their base of youngsters – Dubinsky, Dawes, Callahan, Prucha (I’ll take him if Tom doesn’t want to play him), Girardi, Staal. Like the Islanders’ kids, none of them (except perhaps Staal) are sure-fire A-listers. But they bring something every night. Better than that, they are a great watch. No reason why the Islanders can’t match that soon.
The expectations for Kyle Okposo make me queasy for such a great kid like KO. Without a doubt, he’s a player who could play a big part on a championship team. But some of the excitement seems a little over-juiced. Keep the bar at a fair level for the kid – maybe 25-35-60 in two or three years. Kyle had 9 goals in 35 games with Bridgeport, 2 goals in 9 games with the Islanders. Enjoy the kid. He’s going to be fun to watch develop.
So there is no misunderstanding, my puzzlement over the installation of a defensive system only after the Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention is this: with the team shorthanded throughout the second half, why didn’t they start thinking about minimizing scoring chances-against when the Islanders were still in the playoff race?
There was no surprise in Uniondale when the Penguins signed Ruslan Fedotenko. Pitt expressed interest in Tank before they went in another direction right before the deadline.
In the Comments section, I got a question about who the real Rick DiPietro is. On the ice, I’ll leave it to an NHL goalie coach who says Rick is easily one of the three most talented goaltenders in the game and he will have his moment when the D in front of him is top-10 NHL. Okay, I’ll make one suggestion on the ice. When the Islanders are on the PK, allow Rick to get in the opponent’s heads by playing the puck. When they’re not, tell him to just stop it. Off the ice, sure we averaged one moment a season when we cursed each other’s name. But when it was all over for me in May, Rick sent me a text after he got out of surgery that was as classy as any of the notes I received. SOB still has me rooting for him.
To answer the question from the Comments on the Ted post: no, I’m not aware of Garth Snow getting a contract extension. If he did, I'd like to think he'd buy me more than just Chipotle when we worked together.
As for the Q about what it was like to walk past Dale Hunter in the Coliseum hallway after he mugged Pierre Turgeon, this is what went through my mind: “I’d like to sucker-punch him, but Hatcher would probably kill me.” And “Man, that jackass looks just like Robin Williams.”
I was flooded with emails yesterday asking why I brought up the lack of resolution on the Ted Nolan issue. That’s easy. The Islanders have not won a playoff series since the spring I got married. That was in nineteen hundred ninety-three. I saw something that bothered me and could lead to those 15 years becoming 20 if it’s not rectified one way or the other.
It wasn’t like I unloaded insider secrets, went all Scott McClellan on my old team. There wasn’t a thing I wrote that wasn’t already public info, that wasn’t already covered by Greg Logan and that Greg will continue to be all over. It’s remarkable to me that some 24/7 fans thought I outed stuff everyone didn’t already know. It really does seem like the Islanders had an intriguing draft, signed Streit and Weight and – just like that – for some, all was forgotten. I don’t think so.
The private stuff I have kept to myself. To those of you who have read this blog going back to its inception when I was a team official: did you really expect me to go out just thanking a bunch of people? Maybe I’m stopping the blog a few days too late.
Well, actually I would like to thank some people. I’ve spent the last four glorious weeks in Major League Baseball as a PR consultant around the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, with a few more weeks to go. Call it Dream Job 2. A big thank you to my teammates Dan Queen, Sarah Leer, Sylvia Alvarez, fellow insultant Josh Rosenfeld (legendary former PR man of the Magic-Worthy-Kareem Lakers), Matt Monagan and our skipper, Matt Bourne. It has been a riot, a thrill and a privilege to be a part of it, and I cannot thank them enough.
Thank you to all the Point Blank readers. My “limited engagement” ends today. I’m not going on that family trip, but the next few weeks will have me working 18 hours a day on the many incredible All-Star events (unfortunately, I do not have a block of Bon Jovi tickets). Especially for all the class they have shown me, I owe MLB my best.
So many of you have been kind enough to ask me to keep this blog alive. A few suggested I keep it, even if it means just dropping a line once or twice a month. Thank you for the recommendation. I just might do that.
Either way, the Comments area remains open. I’ll be reading and will try to address whatever and whenever I can.
See you around.