An independent blog on the New York Islanders and the NHL by a guy from New York.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Islanders 666

My focus for today's article is like something off of a certain Iron Maiden albumThe Islanders are 6 games into the season and I’ll look into the 6 reasons that they improved and the 6 areas in which they need to focus on to be keep it going. 666 may be the number of the beast, but it’s also the subject of my team analysis. Scream for me Brooklyn!

Your New York Islanders are 3 & 3 after 6 games. They have 6 points and currently sit in the Metro’s 4th spot (10th in east), only 2 points out of 1st. After a tough start, going 0-2 and suffering an agitating loss to the rival New York Rangers, the Islanders have been doing some good things. And those things are making them harder to play and giving them more chance to win. Mr. Eric Hornick sums it up well to those who panicked after the slow start. In the “Last 5 isles games: 3 wins, and 1-goal losses to defending Western Conference Champ and defending Presidents Trophy winner. Time to exhale.”

So let’s go over my top 6 reasons they have climbed back up to a .500 record and made some noise doing it.

1) The offense came together in game 6 and scored 6 goals, half of what they managed to tally in the first 5. And they scored 3 of them in just a 3:08 span against Minnesota. Isles Captain, John Tavares has 5 points in 6 games (along with Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson) while Alan Quine has found a spot with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, scoring 5 points on Monday.

2) The revamped “4th” line has been excellent once again. Nikolay Kulemin replaced Matt Martin, joining Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck and the trio has netted some big results for New York. They have 8 points in 6 games, Cizikas, some big face-off wins and the line continues to get a lot of ice time in crucial situations.

3) Eric Hornick reminded us what kind of 9 game tryout Rookie Anthony Beauvillier is having. Beauvillier has 5 points (1-4-5) in five NHL games and in just 47:25 of ice time. “Beauvillier has recorded his five career points He has the highest points per 60 minutes played ratio (6.33) of any player in the entire NHL (minimum 3 games played).” He’s blocking shots, finishing checks, understanding the flow of the game and has been working extremely hard to do all he can to prove he belongs right where he is. Wow.

4) Cory Wright touched on the contributions of the Isles D adding 5 goals over the last two games, a trend that led the team to an 18-8-3 record when getting a goal from a defenseman. That’s especially big going into this season because if Isles can score throughout the pairings (has combined for 6 & 6 for 12 points -Hornick), the contributions will put other teams on notice. Especially if a game changer like Johnny Boychuk (4pts in 6 games) can continue his pace and add a few more shorthanded GWG’s.  The PK is the leagues best, with an impressive 95.5% (21 of 22 on the Ssn.) and continues to preserve their chances while man-down.

5) The team goaltending seems to be picking up where it left off last year and out of this summer’s World Cup tournament. Jaroslav Halak (backed up by Thomas Greiss) kept Team Europe in every game of the tourney and helped them reach the finals against Canada. The tandem is holding the fort as the new look Isles find their groove with a combined 2.54gaa and a .909 Sv%. If an improving defense can play in front of a confident keeper tandem, the Isles can concentrate on scoring goals on the rush. While they rank 14th in goals against per game (2.83), Halak and Greiss have kept them in the mix, especially in close games.

6) The Islanders are home and making the most of it. Yes, we know the back and forth struggles about the ice at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but we also know that the Isles killed it at home last season (25-11-5) and with 12 of the 1st 17 games at home to open the season, they need to continue to pile up the points early and often. They are 3-1 in Brooklyn so far and will look and will look to add to the win column when they face Montreal Wednesday, on Bill Torrey Bowtie night.

The Islanders definitely have some room to improve. Here are my 6 keys.

1) Their PP once again shows shades of what hampered the team for most of last season. Currently, the man advantage is anything but. The Isles rank 29th in league at 6.7% with a single PPG to show in 6 games. This cannot continue or changes must be made anywhere they can.

2) Adding Andrew Ladd over the summer was huge. It gave JT a competent and legit scoring winger with the leadership qualities and winning experience that he has been lacking in a line mate. He got his first point as an Islander on Monday, ending a 5-game pointless streak which according to Erick Hornick, is the longest of his career to start a season. Something isn’t clicking.

3) Matthew Barzal had a tough open to his NHL career. He made mistakes, found the box a couple of times and looked frustrated in his pro debut against the Capitals. And that was only his first shift. But seriously, he had a right to be nervous and his team mates helped him laugh it off, but Barzal has an opportunity to make the squad as a regular if he improves. He may need more time with the Thunderbirds or he just may need another chance.

4) It’s still very early, but the Islanders are 0-2 on the road so far. The good news is they won’t be seeing much of it to start the season, but that will change on the back end when they will be on the road for 22 of the last 34 games away from Brooklyn, so the road game needs to come together.

5) The islanders, like many other NHL teams are much more successful when they score first. They are 2-0 with 1st goal, 1-3 without so far this year. Falling behind early will take away the team’s ability to dictate flow and control the game, so the slow starts and mistakes in the defensive zone must be minimized.

6) I mentioned the offensive punch they found in their last game earlier, but the fact is that if it wasn’t for the defense, the offensive output by the team so far has been very thin. After the moves made this summer, they need to show more than they have thus far in the season. Riding out a slim lead with a struggling PP won’t get it done and while another impact trade could still happen, the guys in the room need to find some more chemistry, learn to mesh and find a way to score goals throughout the forward core. Currently, the Isles are 18th in goals per game at 3.00.

Let’s hope they keep the flow going and at the same time, tighten up on the holes in their game while developing a better team chemistry. The last game was a hard fought win, but the Islanders need that kind of effort more consistently, game in and game out.

“Can I believe that what I saw that night was real and not just fantasy.”

-\m/      \m/-

Isles Notes:

The New York Islanders have signed Steve Bernier to a one year, two-way contract. Bernier is on waivers today and will report to Bridgeport if he clears. “Bernier, 31, scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 24 games with the Islanders last season. He also appeared in six Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Islanders advanced to the second round.”

D, Ryan Pulock is out 4-6 weeks (lower-body injury) suffered in the 1st period of Friday's 3-2 win over the Coyotes. It was Pulock’s first call-up pf the season from Bridgeport.

Per Eric Hornick, “Monday’s Isles win was the 1,500th in Islander regular season history.”

Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, arraigned on federal corruption charges.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2016 KoC New York Islanders Season Preview

Our New York Islanders finished the preseason playing .500 hockey. John Tavares and Jaro Halak came back to play the final game of the primer along with a mostly veteran line up against Washington, but fell flat in a 4-0 loss. The preseason was a back and forth showing the potential sum of its parts, but the record was secondary to the evaluation of both vets and prospects.  Although players like Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier & Joshua Ho-Sang made a strong impression, apparently free-agent signing and “projected first liner”, P.A.Parenteau found himself of waivers, only to be snatched up by the New Jersey Devils a little later today. It’s a surprising move to many, but a good one if it makes the team better. That answer is yet to be determined. B.D. Gallof noted, “Fact that PA can't make cut on isles does speak very highly of their tracking tech new array of players plus higher expectations.” Jason Chimera is skating with Tavares & Ladd on the top line now, but Jack Capuano wouldn’t comment on the game 1 line up as of yet.

Scott Mayfield, Bracken Kearns and Ben Holmstrom cleared waivers and were assigned to Bridgeport along with Kyle Burroughs, Michael Dal Colle, Matthew Finn, Christopher Gibson, Jesse Graham, Josh Ho-Sang, Ross Johnston, Devon Toews and Stephon Williams. The club's final roster moves, prior to closing training camp today, included loaning defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock to the AHL club in Bridgeport. Steve Bernier, Colin Markison, Tanner Fritz, Patrick Cullity and Connor Jones were released from their PTOs over the pre-season and enforcer and room leader, Eric Boulton was placed on injured reserve (along with Stephen Gionta & Mikhail Grabovski) retroactive to Oct. 4. Word from Coach Capuano is Jaro Halak (illness) may not be able to play the opener against the Rangers on Thursday. The match up will be only the 2nd time in franchise history the Isles open against the rival Rangers. A team who they swept (outscored 14-7) last season, for the first time in franchise history.

So the management and coaching staff studied their X’s & O’s, and came up with the opening day 23 man New York Islanders roster:


Josh Bailey
Mathew Barzal
Anthony Beauvillie
Jason Chimera
Casey Cizikas
Cal Clutterbuck
Nikolay Kulemin
Andrew Ladd
Anders Lee
Brock Nelson
Shane Prince
Alan Quine
Ryan Strome
John Tavares


Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan
Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey
Nick Leddy
Dennis Seidenberg


JF Berube
Thomas Greiss
Jaroslav Halak

My impressions coming into the season are ones of excitement and an all too familiar feeling of uncertainty.

I am certain that Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera will add value and experience to the team and they should make up for most of what the team lost in free agency. Nikolay Kulemin will get his chances (along with a list of others) to try and fill in for the vacancy left by Nielsen, but that is a tall order to fill. Josh Bailey is a good, and often maligned player by the fans. But he does stack up points and comes through from time to time, like it or not. Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas are money as far as I’m concerned and their value is shown by their versatility and impact.

John Tavares looked solid in the World Cup and he should be hitting his stride a lot sooner than other players on team, which can never be a bad thing. I was impressed with the play of the Isles 2015, 1st round picks, Mathew Barzal & Anthony Beauvillier and it was evident that the coaches were as well. Now I’m all about an NHL ready prospect getting time over an aging vet, but only if they play up to the level the team needs.  To me, both Barzal and Beauviller have the talent and drive, but I’m not yet sold on their ability to execute regularly. That usually comes with experience and the Isles want to win now. I assume the chance is theirs as long as they continue to meet expectations.

Eric Hornick reminds us that Barzal was drafted by Garth Snow and the Islanders after the Bruins passed on the 13th, 14th & 15th picks from this summer’s draft. The Isles traded Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for the 16th (Barzal) and 33rd picks. Reinhart hasn’t really developed the way the defensively starved Oilers had wanted him too and was sent down to their AHL affiliate on October 7th. Snow followed up that same round by flipping the 33rd pick along with his 72nd pick for the 28th (Beauviller) first round selection. So heading into the season, Barzal and Beauviller are still here and Reinhart has been sent down and seemly not in Edmonton’s future plans. Advantage, Snow.

Several players will have the spot light, but need to contribute more. Shane Prince will have his opportunities, but is coming off a lower body injury to start the season. He made quite the impression after being acquired from Ottawa in March of last year and will need to do more of the same this season. Alan Quine is another guy who I love to cheer for. The former BST has all the drive necessary to stay on this team and makes the most of his limited size by playing a quick and hard checking game. More will also be expected from the likes of Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, but I assume they are happy with that challenge. Much like Ryan Strome, who recently re-upped with New York, the trio of young vets need to consistently find their offensive touch and become better all-around players to help the Islanders take the next step.

The renewed commitment of Travis Hamonic is some of the best news Isles fans had experienced in quite same time. The fact is Hamonic is probably the most valuable player on the team not named Tavares and his defensive game is matched only by his grit. Nick Leddy is just a consistently good, all around blue liner who fits well with this team and adds veteran skill to any top D pairing. Johnny Boychuk is an elite defenseman who should be poised to ramp it up again this season and deliver an offensive punch so needed on the PP. Thomas Hickey is another solid player who gives you his best in any role he plays. Calvin de Haan is good when he limits his mistakes and had his best, longest & most healthy season with the team last season. The arrival of Dennis Seidenberg is probably the reason that Ryan Pulock was sent back to Bridgeport. I am not alone in wondering what benefit the minors will serve Pulock, but management added Seidenberg to add quality veteran depth and that is what he will bring. Pulock will probably have his chance due to injury and may never go back after that.

The islanders once again carry a third goalie on their roster instead of a 7th defensemen. Jaroslav Halak & Thomas Greiss will mind the net for New York and J-F Berube will add that 3rd goalie security. Halak wants to be the starter and was until his health gave Greiss an opportunity to shine last season. I expect much of the same again and for the team’s sake, one of them needs to step up and lead by example into and through the playoffs. Berube will have his chances and is obviously valued by the team, but may find himself traded later in the season if the right opportunity presents itself, especially with expansion looming next season.

The team has a few question marks and a few guys who need to fill the voids they were always intended to fill. There is a dire need for consistent special teams play, a strong checking game and clean defensive play if they have any chances to compete with a Washington or a Pittsburgh this season. And the opportunity for error is slim with 12 of their first 17 games at home in the Barclays Center. While home ice can serve them well, facing 22 of the last 34 games on the road including a brutal 9 game road trip from February 21st through March 11th isn’t the time they want to find themselves struggling to get make-or-break points.

I think the Islanders have the potential to finish 2nd or 3rd in the Metro and may even add an impact player as the season goes on. I expect their bar to be raised and pressure to be felt from the ownership on down, to win now. I also expect that anyone in the organization who doesn’t share that mind set will see how badly they want to win. And at their own expense.

John Tavares agrees. “Some may have more talent, but there is no excuse for anyone working harder than you.”

Isles Notes:

Per @generalfanager, “New York Islanders Cap Space: $1,387,859, Total Cap: $71,612,141 Active Roster: 14F/6D/3G.”

John Tavares and Team Canada defeated a strong performance by Jaroslav Halak (with Thomas Greiss) and Team Europe to win the 2016 WCH tournament.

Tony Stabile, “Ilya Sorokin has played 39 KHL games the past 2 seasons for CSKA Moscow during that time he has given up 39 goals and has 13 shutouts.”

NHL Notes:

Former Isles D, Brian Strait was waived by the Winnipeg Jets after signing as a free agent this summer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Islanders Camp, Preseason & Adding Seidenberg

There has been a lot happening since the signing of Ryan Strome, so let’s take a look at some of the recent goings on in & around Islanders’ Country.  We’ve heard about the improved ice surface at the Barclays Center, select Isles games airing on one of WFAN’s 50,000 watt radio stations next season and a renewed enthusiasm between Brett Yormark, the Brooklyn brass and the new Islanders ownership group led by Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin.

Our New York Islanders training camp is in full swing and the team has already played 3 preseason games. They had a 3-0 win (Prince, Ho-Sang, Dal Colle with Berube & Gibson in net) and made things happen against the Flyers on Monday.  But since, have dropped a pair of lackluster split squad games on Tuesday to the same Flyers (4-0 L) with a prospect laydened roster and then to the rival Rangers (5-2 L, Chimera & Leddy) on Tuesday due to a lackluster PP (0/6) and PK (1/3).  Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd made their Isles debut and some of the young guys have made a little noise on the ice.  Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang, Michael Dal Colle, Anthony Beauvillier & Ryan Pulock got some looks in big moments for the Islanders so far and have done some good things.  I am particularly impressed with how well Barzal has looked and find it encouraging that Ho-Sang has taken ownership of his mistakes in camp last year and seems to be refocused and making an impression.  Seeing Ryan Strome and Shane Prince move the puck well and drop the gloves this early in preseason is encouraging. Especially since they are two of the guys the team needs to step up in place of the missing Okposo, Nielsen and Martin.  I am anxious to see what D, Scott Mayfield can do with his time in camp and although todays signing of Dennis Seidenberg adds veteran depth to the blue line and it will certainly make winning a job very difficult for the spirited Mayfield.

Earlier today, Darren Dreger mentioned on twitter that Seidenberg (1 and 11 for 12 pts in 61 games last season with Boston) was likely to choose the Islanders ahead of 7 other teams that were vying for his services.  A little later, the Islanders added the veteran D man on a one-way, 1 yr, $1M contract and a little more experience and grit to their back end.  While Seidenberg, 35, has had some difficulties staying healthy over the last few seasons, it a could be a great deal for New York, who may benefit from the Stanley Cup winning familiarity between he and Boychuk from their time with the Bruins.  Seidenberg is currently playing for Team Europe with the Isles goal-tending tandem in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey finals against John Tavares and Team Canada.  He has 224 points in 758 NHL games and has a vast amount of International Olympic, World Championship and World Cup experience on his hockey resume.

Arthur Staple mentioned, “With Seidenberg signing, Isles have 24 one-way contracts (including Grabo). Presuming Pulock sticks, someone has to go before season starts.”  

What's up next for Snow and Company?

Isles Notes:

Mikhail Grabovski (upper body, 3/16/16) has been placed on IR while Steve Bernier, Connor Jones and Patrick Cullity all signed professional tryouts (PTO's) on Monday.

Islanders John Tavares is pitted against Jaroslav Halak (and Thomas Greiss) in the World Cup Finals.  Canada has a 1-0 lead in the best of 3 game series final. Tavares has a goal and 4 assists in 5 games for Canada so far while Halak has a looked very good, stopping 173 out of 190 shots faced with a .947 Sv% in 7 games.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Done Deal: Ryan Strome Re-Signs With The Islanders

Arthur Staple announced that the New York Islanders and Ryan Strome had finally agreed to terms on a two-year deal, $5M deal this afternoon.  The 2011, 5th overall 1st round selection was coming off his entry level deal, turned down the team’s qualifying offer and only had until Thursday morning to sign with the Isles or sit out the season, a long-time team rule instituted by former majority owner, Charles Wang.  Brock Nelson waited around last season until the final countdown to finally sign a 3 year, $7.5M deal.  I’m glad to see that Strome, Nelson and Ander’s Lee are locked in and are still part of the future plans for New York. I hope to see them develop even more and contribute in big ways for the team.

Strome, 23, was 8 & 20 for 28 points in 71 games last season with New York and had a 4-point tally in the 2015-16 Stanley Cup Playoffs (8 pts in 15 career playoff games overall). Last season was considered an off-year based on the expectations of the team and those Strome had for himself. It came just after a dynamic 50-point season the year before, where he posted career highs in goals (17), assists (33) and points (50).  He certainly should be motivated to make some more noise once again next season and answer his critics.  Strome has an excellent opportunity to make an offensive statement along with the rest of the 2016-17 team after the departure of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen and what they brought to the score sheet.

Stromer is an AHL All-Star (49 pts in 37 games with the BST in 13-14) and has represented Canada at the 2012 and 2013 WJC internationally.

Isles Notes:

Former Sound Tigers, Colin Markison and Tanner Fritz agreed to a Professional Tryout (PTO) with the Islanders.

Former Islander, Clause Loiselle has been named Hockey Operations Consultant for the team. Loiselle has served in a management capacity for the Coyotes, Maple Leafs and Lightning organizations in addition to a role with the NHL as Associate Director of Hockey Operations.

World Cup Notes:

Islanders' Jaroslav Halak is 2-0 so far with 1 shut out in the first round of the World Cup for Team Europe.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Islanders Talk To Gionta, Represent In 2016 World Cup.

Earlier today, Arthur Staple reported that the Islanders are in talks with C, Stephen Gionta on a PTO.  The soon to be 33 year old Gionta had 1 and 10 for 11 points in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils last season (avg. 12 min/game) and has been a part of their system since 2005.  While the news is sure to raise a few eye brows of a few fans, most feel it’s strictly a move to add depth.  If a season long agreement is in the cards, it would most likely be a one year, two-way deal, but I could also see a reasonably priced one-way NHL contract as well.  The 5’7 Gionta is a smaller, but experienced player who skates well, brings energy and shouldn’t hurt a team who still has question marks on a few of its young prospects and where they will fit into the scheme going into this season.  

UPDATE: Gionta agrees to a PTO with Islanders on 9/12.

As my buddy Ian pointed out, Ryan Strome still isn’t signed and we all know what happens if a player on the Isles roster isn’t signed by the start of camp on the 22nd. He sits out for the year, ala Sean Bergenheim.  Staple reports the two sides are still working on a deal and there doesn’t seem to be any real concern by either side on getting Strome signed in time.  Garth Snow has done this kind of thing a few times before and would continue to try and add serviceable players in lieu of giving up assets for a reserve player like he did with ex Devil, Stephen Bernier last season.

In other news, John Tavares (Canada), Nikolay Kulemin (Russia), Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss (Team Europe) have been named to their national teams in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.  The preliminary games are being played now to fine-tune line ups and try to build chemistry for this year’s tournament that runs from 9/17 through 10/1.  Jaro Halak was pretty much left alone in net for Team Europe in last night’s 4-0 exhibition loss to a younger and faster, Team North America.

I remember going to both USA wins (Rus. and Slov.) at MSG in September of ‘96 when the Americans eventually beat Canada to win the Cup in Montreal a short time later.  It was awesome to experience live and watching the games on television got me and all my Rangers fan friends to get along and cheer together for a few days.

Check out this year’s tournament, currently in exhibition play if you haven’t already.


I miss you Buddy.

R.I.P Hades.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Islanders Celebrate Arbour's Memory With Honors & Tribute

Al Arbour was remembered yesterday at a memorial service that marked the 1 year reflection on his passing.  Family, friends and some of his old players gathered with fans to celebrate his life and career at the Northwell Health Ice Center team practice facility in East Meadow.  Islanders’ general manger, Garth Snow announced that the practice rink ice surface would forever be known as the “Al Arbour Rink” in memory of the former and legendary coach.  The team will also also have a permanent historical display at the facility dedicated to Al Arbour.  The display will include tributary relics and memorabilia to honor the coach’s memory and his contributions to the organization and the NHL.

Al Arbour’s longtime friend and mentor, Scotty Bowman respectfully spoke about Arbour with fondness.  Bowman had given Arbour his first NHL coaching position and attributed much of his own success to his friend’s contributions as part of his staff.  Bowman, the NHL’s most winningest coach (1,244) said competing against Arbour (3rd at 782) as opposing coaches was the hardest thing he ever had to do.

Jiggs McDonald, Bill Torey, Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bobby Nystrom, Ken Morrow, Butch Goring, Ed Westfall, Pat Lafontaine, Mick Vukota, Tom Fitzgerald, Jean Potvin and Graeme Townsend were among the storied Isles alumni at the ceremony.  John Tavares was there with a few of his current Islanders’ team mates and everyone was impacted on the day. “It gives you chills,” John Tavares said. “You can just tell from all the stories… how special of a guy he was, what he meant to this organization and the impact he had on all of them. It’s recognizing the standard and the tradition of the Islanders and what they mean to the community and what a guy like Al Arbour meant to the organization and the community here.”  Tavares continued, “You certainly want to carry that on and bring that excellence on and off the ice that he certainly brought. 

It’s something Islander’s majority owner, Jon Ledecky (with Scott Malkin since July 1st) spoke of the team’s quest for a 5th Stanley Cup ring and that their progress at the Barclays Center would benefit them for years to come. “We learned a lot of great lessons about Barclays in the first year,” said Ledecky, “We’ve made a lot of progress in the off-season with Brooklyn, in terms of ice quality, in terms of the facility itself, in terms of making sure that the players and their families are welcomed and hosted in the right way.”  Ledecky also spoke of the team’s renewed commitment to connect with former players from the dynasty teams of the 1980’s.

It was a day to honor the life of Al Arbour and hopefully find a renewed strength and focus from the stories from his former players and friends.  A strength that just might help the new look roster push forward into the 2016-17 season with a fresh perspective on the one goal they all have in mind.

Thank you Mr. Arbour.  Thank you for everything.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Isle Be There: Statistically Speaking With Eric Hornick

In a series of articles, called Isle Be There, my intention is to focus on the different social groups that support your New York Islanders team & its players.  This will also include current events or situations in and around the team as it relates to its fan base and community.

As a follow up to an interview I was fortunate enough to do with the great Jiggs McDonald, I wanted to find another Islanders Icon who would have the stories to enthrall an entertain anyone who could call themselves a fan of our New York Islanders.  Eric Hornick graciously granted my request to answer a few questions and give me his perspective on the upcoming Isles season at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  Mr. Hornick gave me some thoughts on the team, stats and some of his favorite and most memorable moments over his storied career.

Mr. Hornick has been the statistician for the Islanders since 1982.  Like Jiggs McDonald, he has been around for the greatest and the not so great times in team history.  But more so than anyone else, his need to keep meticulous track of each and every vital team statistic was a necessary evil for both the organization, media and the fans throughout the ups and downs of the franchise.  Statistics support both the legendary and the forgettable in snap-shots of the team throughout their history.

They remind us of Bossy’s 50 in 50, the 19 consecutive playoff series wins and even Al Arbour’s amazing 1,500 games coached. Before last season, we were reminded every single year of the Islanders inability to win a playoff series since 1993, a streak that extended through 23 NHL seasons under the guidance of 12 different coaches.

I jumped in and started by asking what he thought of the Islanders first season in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.  Then, I just sat back to let the man do his thing.

Eric Hornick: “I think that it took a lot of getting used to, both by players and fans.  However, by late in the season it started to feel like home and the place was really rocking in April…and in May. The ice seemed to get better as the season went along and quite frankly the off-center scoreboard is really a big nothing.  Most importantly, the team played pretty well at home.”

Knight of Cups: How do you think the Isles 2016-17 team is shaping up?

Eric Hornick: “It will certainly be a different mix, with 3 key new faces (Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and PA Parenteau) replacing four departed free agents (Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Brian Strait).

Ladd was obviously the guy the Isles targeted; they had him on Long Island during the courting period and announced a deal with him just after the signing period started.  Ladd got a 7-year deal, just like Okposo did in Buffalo.  Like Kyle’s deal, Ladd’s deal is both lockout-proof and buyout-proof (almost all of Ladd’s money is structured as a bonus, not a salary).  Ladd will be 31 just before Christmas; I’m sure there are some that are concerned what this deal will look like on the back end.   Ladd’s won the Stanley Cup twice (with Carolina and with Chicago) so I’m sure his leadership will be valued come springtime.  He has never scored 30 goals, but he has scored 23+ in each of the last 5 full seasons.
Jason Chimera was an interesting signing.  Yes, he’s 37, but he did score 20 goals last season for the second time in his career.  Only eight players from his 1997 draft class have played in 1,000 NHL games; Jason is 49 games shy.

And then there’s Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, although you can call him PA.  Garth Snow got him for a great price ($1,250,000); ironically the same salary he had in his last season of his first stint with the Isles (2011-12).  He went 18-49-67 playing mainly with Tavares that season and parlayed that into a big free agent deal; the Isles (and PA) are certainly hopeful that they can recapture some of that magic.

While it was nice to see that the Isles were at least being considered in the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes, there is plenty of young talent around.  It will be interesting to see if any of the rookies can crack the lineup, and whether the young vets (Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome) can have more consistent seasons.”

Knight of Cups: What was the most interesting stat for the Islanders last season.

Eric Hornick: “Well anytime you end a 23-season playoff win drought, that would seem to take the top spot.

I was surprised how far the Isles regressed from the previous season in terms of possession.  They had the biggest shots on goal differential in their history the previous year; both the shots and the Corsi (shot attempts) were way down last season.
And while you didn’t ask, the most interesting stat for this season may just be the schedule.  By February 19th, the Isles will have played 34 home games and only 24 on the road. It's the first time the Isles have ever played 34 home games in fewer than the first 63 games.

The Isles will then embark on a franchise-record nine-game road trip from February 21st to March 11th.   The Isles will visit Detroit, Montreal and Columbus during President's Week before having four consecutive off days. The Isles will then play six Western Conference road games to end the stretch. Not only have the Isles never had a 9-game road trip before, they have never played eight straight away from home.”

Knight of Cups: What has been the strangest all-time Isles stat you have kept since 1982?

Eric Hornick: “One of the strangest was one of the first.  In the early 80’s the Isles had a ridiculous streak where they went something in the neighborhood of 180-0-10 in games that they led with 10 minutes to play.”

Knight of Cups: What are your top 3 favorite all-time Islander stats and who holds them?

Erick Hornick: “Try these:

17 – Number of players that were the “Core of the Four”.  It will never happen again in any sport.

207:57   -- Any guesses?  That’s the amount of consecutive playoff overtime that the Isles played without allowing a goal.  It’s actually a post-Cup era streak, starting with Pat LaFontaine’s Easter Epic in 1987 and ending on a Stephane LeBeau double-OT goal for Montreal.  The Isles won eight consecutive OT games in that stretch.

50 -  The most goals scored in the first 50 games, set by Mike Bossy in 1981.  I wasn’t working on the telecasts yet; I was just screaming!

Knight of Cups: Who was your favorite Islander?

Eric Hornick: “When I did the “It Happened at the Coliseum” series (which you can still find on my blog,, I used to tweet each edition at 7:40am and 5:22pm.  7:40am was my salute to Al Arbour’s wins; 5:22 was my salute to my two favorite players of the Cup era (Potvin and Bossy).”

Knight of Cups: What was your favorite team moment?

Eric Hornick: “When you win four straight Cups, it makes it hard to choose just one.  Personally, the come-from-behind OT win vs. Pittsburgh in 1982 and the overtime win vs. the Rangers in 1984 (both in game 5s of 5-game series) are among the most memorable. 
In more recent years, how about a pair of Tavares overtime goals? I was fortunate to watch Game 3 vs. Washington in 2015 from the stands at the Coliseum (NBC did the game and used their own statistician) – it was the first time I watched a playoff game from the stands since Butch Goring won the Conn Smythe in 1981 vs. Minnesota.  And then how about the series clincher last spring vs. Florida in what turned out to be Howie Rose’s final broadcast?  What tremendous drama and finally the “curse” of 1993 being lifted.”

Knight of Cups: Did you know Al Arbour and if so, what was your favorite moment or encounter with Mr. Arbour?

Erick Hornick: “I talked with Al a number of times but I wouldn’t claim that I really knew him.  I’ll give you two favorite moments – one shared with many, one that was just mine.
Back in 2004 a business trip brought me to Sunrise, Florida for an Islander game.  (It was supposed to be Jiggs’ final broadcast of an Islander game, broadcasting for the Panthers; thankfully that turned out not to be the case).  I rode up an elevator with Al and with Bill Torrey; it was just the three of us.  I mentioned to them who I was and remember saying “thank you for my childhood” or something to that effect.

About 3 ½ years later, I was at my familiar perch for game #1500.  When it was first announced that summer I really wasn’t sure it would work.  It certainly did—truly a memorable night for all those that were fortunate to be there or watch our telecast. I wrote about it extensively here.”

Knight of Cups: Describe your relationship with the guys in the booth, in the truck and the people around you who you would call your broadcast team.

Eric Hornick: “For 34 ½ years, I’ve been fortunate to work regularly with just two play-by-play announcers. When Howie announced this May that he was leaving, it was certainly an end of an era. I started with Jiggs two days after my 18th birthday; I was the same age as his older daughter.  Howie is about 10 years older than I; my kids followed his kids to the same public schools.  And now I look forward to working with Brendan Burke, who wasn’t born when I debuted.

I’ve also worked with some great analysts, from Ed Westfall and Joe Micheletti to Billy Jaffe and now Butch Goring. One of the first weeks I worked with Eddie, I had him autograph his cover photo from a media guide a few years earlier – I figured if it ended that season, at least I had that!

But there are plenty of people you never hear enough about—JT Townsend has been our stage manager for well over two decades; he does so many things for our talent and for me both before and throughout the game.  He is always by my side and along with Brendan and Butch, it is the four of us that will form the A Team in the “booth”.

I communicate by headset to our font coordinator; Mike Mancuso has been with us for the last three seasons and is always willing to incorporate my ideas.  I also speak regularly with our “bug guy”; several people fill that role throughout the season – in TV parlance “the bug” is the graphic that shows time and score and also little bits of information.

Other than JT, the member of our production team I have worked with directly for the longest is our replay coordinator Charlie Cucchiara; he was once our graphics coordinator and has produced our broadcasts on occasion.

For the past two seasons, Islander hockey has been produced by Jim Gallagher and directed by Dave Hagen.  I speak with Jim much more during the game than Dave, but they are both outstanding at what they do – maybe one day they will lend me one of their Emmys!

I have been extremely fortunate to work with such talented people, including the wonderful Shannon Hogan and the incomparable Stan Fischler over all these years.”

Stan "The Maven" Fischler and Eric Hornick

Knight of Cups: What are the four things that fans probably don’t know about you or your job?

Eric Hornick: “I generally only attend home games (and local road games).  Thanks to texting and email, it just seems like I am at the road games. 
Many of the Islander facts I remember off the top of my head; however, I would also make an excellent reference librarian.

My preparation for the next game usually starts with my writing of The Skinny after the previous one! You can find a tweet linking to it at exactly 7:11 the morning after every game.
Bill Torrey once called my mother, saying that he couldn’t hire me as the team’s statistician… because I was in high school!”

Knight of Cups: What was your most memorable interaction with Islanders fans over the years?

Eric Hornick: “Without question, #ItHappenedattheColiseum.  Two summers ago, I thought that someone needed to commemorate the final Coliseum season.  I also knew that person had to be me.

What was originally just a little 250-part series chronicling Coliseum events day-by-day became a major fundraiser.  With the help of Isles Blogwe raised over $33,000 for Make-A-Wish ® Metro NY.

In addition to the great pride I felt seeing our t-shirts and sweatshirts at the Coliseum and throughout the area, knowing that this project was enough to fund four “Wishes” made this one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done.  (Be warned: if I see you wearing a shirt, I will definitely come up to you and say thanks!)

Eric Hornick and his son Evan before game 1 vs Tampa

Outside of that, I hear from fans basically every day through Twitter.  My wife jokes that I am a “mini-celebrity”. I certainly love to talk with fans before games or between periods!

Knight of Cups: What was the most interesting behind the scenes conversation or revelation you have experienced while keeping stats?

Eric Hornick: “This is one of my favorite stories – about 15 years ago I was rushing around the Coliseum press box during an intermission.  The press box bathrooms were tucked behind a blind corner, and coming out of it, I ran into Flyer legend (and then General Manager) Bobby Clarke.  Literally.   We collided and I was actually a bit stunned.
When I looked up to apologize, I realized who I had hit.  I apologized and then with a bit of a giggle said “Ten years ago I would have given anything to have done that.”
Clarke replied, “Ten years ago, I would have hit you back.”  We both laughed.”

Knight of Cups: When did you know you wanted to be the resource for the team and keep meticulous track of all those growing numbers?

Eric Hornick: “I was 8 years old when the Isles played their first game; a long-deceased player named Bob Cook scored a hat trick in my first Coliseum game (Stick Night vs Vancouver in March 1973).  I’ve always blamed (credited) Chico Resch for his 1975 playoff run turning me into a super fan.  I’ve kept score of every game the team has played since 1978.

I met Jiggs in the 1980-81 season; over that summer I received a letter from him that the team was looking for a statistician – unfortunately they didn’t hire me because I was still in high school.  Jiggs invited me to join the broadcasts in 1982 and the first game I worked started the 15-game winning streak.  Butch doesn’t think I deserve much credit for that!  I’ve never left.”

Butch Goring, Jiggs McDonald and Eric Hornick during a broadcast.

Knight of Cups: Was there anyone you could call an influence of yours in the field?

Eric Hornick: “When I was growing up, the Mets had a statistician named Arthur Friedman; I remember reading his book.  I was probably more influenced by the broadcasters; as a teenager I complained to the Mets not when they traded Tom Seaver, but when Lindsay Nelson left to go to San Francisco.

Before you could find every game on Center Ice or on XM, I used to listen to NHL games from all over the place on radio.  Isles and Rangers of course, but also teams like the Whalers (Chuck Kaiton) and Capitals (Ron Weber).  Both Kaiton and Weber often worked alone, meaning they had plenty of need to interject stats.  When I broadcast games at Union College (including the small college national championship game twice) I always included a lot of stats.”

Knight of Cups: What current NHL record would you most like to see broken?

Eric Hornick: “Nothing really comes to mind, but there’s a certain 19-series winning streak that expect will last forever!”

Knight of Cups: What’s the biggest statistical impact you have seen expansion bring to an NHL season?

Eric Hornick: “Scoring went way up after the expansion in 1979-80 (to include the 4 WHA teams).  Adding Las Vegas, who because of the expansion draft rules will likely be a fairly competitive team right off the bat, won’t have the same impact.

Maybe the biggest impact is not on statistics but on scheduling.  Once Vegas joins the league, every team in the East will play 28 games in their division, 24 teams against the other division and 30 games against the West.  I’d like to see greater impact placed on divisional play.  If it was up to me, I’d go back to 6 divisions and play your divisional rivals 6 or 8 times each.  Consider this – after our opening night telecast at MSG, the Isles and Rangers will play 3 times in the final 81 games (In fact, opening night is our only telecast at The Garden; NBCSN has the other game).  That’s just not enough.”

Knight of Cups: What is the most interesting and least known NHL stat?

Eric Hornick: “On March 22, 1984, Bryan Trottier scored a goal 5 seconds into an Isles game in Boston.  (It was an unusual broadcast that night as Ed Westfall came down with laryngitis)

Trottier became the second player in modern NHL history to score :05 into play (Doug Smail did so for Winnipeg in 1981); Buffalo's Alex Mogilny would join them in the record book in 1991.  For the past two decades, those three players have had the record book to themselves.

The NHL, however, is in the midst of digitizing old records and in 2014, they found a goal by a guy named Merlyn Phillips nearly 88 years after it happened.  Phillips, playing for the Montreal Maroons, scored 5 seconds into a game in Chicago on December 29, 1926.  Phillips played 278 games for the Maroons; he finished his NHL career with the NY Americans in the 1932-33 season.

The kicker on Phillips’ share of the record – the clock in Chicago only moved in 5 second increments at that time. Nobody really knows whether he deserves his share of the record.”

In-Game broadcast stat board

Knight of Cups: Who has supported you most over the course of your career?

Eric Hornick: “My family, particularly my VERY understanding wife, Diane.  My two boys are both big fans as well; watching the Isles through their eyes is very special as well.  I’ve worked with many really terrific people along the way as well!”

Knight of Cups: What do you like best about your job?

Eric Hornick: “For nearly 35 years, I’ve had one simple goal – to make our broadcasts just a little bit better.  In all those years, no matter how bad (or good) the season was going, I can’t remember a single time I didn’t want to go to a game.

I love being in the building before a big game (I’m usually in the building before the gates open); there is an air of anticipation that’s hard to describe.  I love to speak with our crew as well as with the writers and the people I know from the other team.

I really like the opportunity to share information, either on television or through my blog or twitter.  Many broadcasters around the league get The Skinny before their games against the Islanders.

There’s an old saying that “Knowledge is Power”; to me it’s much more powerful when I can share it with others.”

I asked Mr. Hornick if he had anything to add about himself and the Islanders for the upcoming season.  He spoke fondly of former Isles play-by-play man, Howie Rose.

“While I am really looking forward to work with Brendan Burke this season, it will be strange not to have Howie Rose sitting next to me.  We’ve worked together since 1995 and I always felt that Howie was under-appreciated by a certain segment of the team’s fanbase.  Part of it had to do with his previous experience with the Rangers, part of it was because he replaced Jiggs McDonald, but perhaps the bigger part had nothing to do with Howie at all – he broadcast a team that for many of those years just wasn’t very good.

The Islanders played over 1,650 regular season and post-season games in the years that Howie called their games; he called three remarkable Islander overtime wins in his last eight days on the job.  They were the only Islander playoff overtime goals he ever called (Doc Emrick called John Tavares’ OT winner in 2014).  When JT’s overtime goal in game six ended the Islanders 23-year playoff series drought, other than my kids, I was happiest for Howie finally getting the chance to call it.

Howie Rose, Eric Hornick and Butch Goring

Among the things I’ll remember most were some of his great on-the-fly commentaries, from “housebound agoraphobe” to “Nassau County aspiring to be minor league.”  They were direct, and right on point.”

The Islanders are the last major North American pro sports franchise to win four league championships in a row.  With the future of the team trending upwards, I’m glad the written history of the Islanders will be brought to us by Eric Hornick, whose passion and excitement for the team is evident in each and every team broadcast, personal twitter post (@ehornick) and blog entry he writes.

Sign from Pat the sign guy, Isles game super fan.

Isles Notes:

Chris Lamoriello has been hired by the team as Director of Player Personnel.

The Islanders are $4.3A under the cap.

Per Arthur Staple, “Strome hasn't signed yet, but he will. And if Barzal/MDC/JHS have a shot, even less incentive to sign a veteran middle-6 forward.”

College Free-Agent, Jimmy Vessey signed an ELC with the New York Rangers.

Sound Tigers Notes:

Josh Holmstrom returns to the BST on a one-year, AHL contract.