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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Isles Arena News: Ownership Answers Yormark, Adds Intention is Belmont


On October 9th, Brett Yormark of the Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment group gave an interview to John Lombardo of sportsbuisnessdaily.com. Yormark contends his aim is a Brooklyn centric approach to marketing the Barclays Center. When asked about the Islanders relationship while playing at the Barclays, Yormark said, “The economics just don’t work. It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped.” In January, Bloomberg News reported, "the owner of both Barclays and the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, shared a financial projection with prospective investors that showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season.


John Ledecky, co-owner of the New York islanders responded in kind. “I guess he’s saying that perhaps that the people on his side didn’t make a good deal … Unfortunately when the facility (Barclays) was built it was not built with hockey in mind,” Ledecky said.” The bad ice coupled with the many obstructed views and bad sight-lines has been a sore spot for most fans since the Islanders signed a 25-year lease in 2012 (started in ’15-16) that has an opt out clause built into the agreement for either side.


Yesterday, Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky wrote how Ledecky feels about the Islanders and their future venue plans. Those plans are to focus on putting a new state-of-the-art building on the Belmont property. Per Kevin Maher on Ledecky, “Islanders will win the RFP for Belmont site. At one point he corrected himself while talking to say "when we win it."


“We are locked and loaded on Belmont,” Ledecky said at a luncheon with reporters in Manhattan. “We have blinders on for Belmont. We are not looking at other places or other opportunities. We want to make Belmont a reality.” Newsday repeated, “The Islanders last month confirmed that they ‘submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park.”


Brian Compton’s point is well taken on other destinations or rumors the team will move, “Ledecky and Malkin have pumped $60M into practice facility. Doesn’t sound like a team leaving town to me. Ledecky said he wants his legacy to be getting this building done and winning more Cups.” He wants it to be a legacy project for the franchise in an area that is “strategically located” with easy access to LIRR.


Jon Ledecky says Isles are contractually obligated to play at Barclays Center next year. He had no comment when asked where the team would play if the Belmont bid was turned down or even accepted and not ready for the team the following season. Per Newsday, “Ledecky said the Coliseum, which underwent a $165 million renovation and seats 13,900 for hockey, was not in consideration, citing its capacity and lack of luxury boxes and suites. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last month that the Coliseum “is not a viable option” for the Islanders, even on a temporary basis.”


“Nassau and Suffolk lawmakers have urged the team to return to the Coliseum, with many expressing concern that a new Belmont arena could irreparably hurt the Coliseum’s ability to attract shows and drive revenue to the county.” Ledecky says total focus is on securing Belmont arena.


“We don’t want to be nomads,” he said. “We don’t want to be wandering folks. We want to be in our own home in a custom-built arena.” I think John Tavares and a legion of fans would agree.

The most used KoC JT picture in blog history because its awesome.


Isles Notes:


The Islanders are 1-1-1, 3 games in and sit 6th in the Metro ahead of the Penguins and last place NYR. They play in Anaheim tonight at 10pm, SJ (10:30pm) on Saturday and LA on Sunday at 10:30pm. They conclude their road trip against the Rangers in MSG on Thursday, 10/19 at 7pm before a 2 game homestand against SJ (10/21) and ARI (10/24).



Sound Tigers Notes:


Eamon McAdam (G) has been reassigned to the @RailersHC.

The Islanders had 22 AHL grads on their opening night roster. There were 640 league wide.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Isles Ready For Friday After Strong Pre-Season


I must admit that this is the most excited I've been in years heading into game 1. Let's hope Islanders are brewing their perfect storm after a great preseason and team bonding, finishing with a 6-0-2 record. While the warm-up schedule isn’t usually games against full rosters or matched pairings, it was still a platform for the new look Isles to evaluate a few unset combinations themselves.


They could see a little more of what they had in some of the new guys and how some of the vets would rally behind the team’s mission this year. “I think they do count — we’ve got good vibes, confidence, the experience to be gained from winning a bunch of close games,” Weight said. “It bodes well for our group. We had a lot of our youth in those early games and we didn’t just win, we outplayed teams.” -Staple


Yesterday, the Islanders put Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier on waivers (cleared) and returned Devon Toews back to BST as well, despite a strong showings when called upon. It gives the Isles depth with two reliable, hard-working two veteran forwards and an exciting, speedy blueliner very close to making his presence felt in Toews. Per Stan Fischler, “Sorry to see two of my favorites, #StephenGionta and #SteveBernier put on waivers by @NYIslanders. Hard workers give way to ready kids.” That helped them get down to 23-manroster with Quine and Prince on IR. 13F, 8D, 2G, per Staple.


So, that means rookies Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang and Ryan Pulock all made the cut along with Anthony Beauvillier, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech. That’s an infusion of youth that the new look coaching staff will expect big things from this year on both sides of the ice. “It starts with our coaches,” Casey Cizikas said. “They’ve drilled it into our heads from day one that anything mediocre isn’t acceptable. Every shift, every game, every practice, you have to bring your hard hat and get to work. Now we need a good few days of practice so we’re ready for Friday when the bell rings.” John Tavares has 3 points in 3 games, Anders Lee had 5 points in 5 games with a 23% shooting percentage and Jordan Eberle looked comfortable (1 & 2 in 5 games) on his new team. Even Clutterbuck (3 assists) and Cizikas (2 assists) made some early noise in 4 games. Ladd and Nelson (2 points in 5 games) along with Josh Bailey seem poised to benefit from some of the new speed expected to be found up front.


Mathew Barzal has been awesome (27% sp, 3 & 4 for a huge 7 pts in 5 gp /1.4 pts/game) along with Anthony Beauvillier (23% sp, 3 & 1 for 4 pts in 5 games) and have complimented each other well. "I think he's playing Friday," Weight said of Beauvillier. "He's been excellent in every aspect of the game. He's really taken on the PKs and he's an engine, he's working, he's skating better, he's put work in and he's a heck of a player." Josh Ho-Sang (3 helpers in 6 games) has really opened up the ice and been a presence during the preseason, just where he laft off from last season. And let’s consider the way the guys are standing up for each other. “Ho-Sang on his cross check/punch to Manning after Barzal hit: "Nobody messes with my boy." He was laughing when he said it.” – Staple.


Defensively, the Isles infused some youth to add speed and replace the toughness lost by the departure of Travis Hamonic. Ryan Pulock can add some transition and heat from the point while Pelech can stabilize from the Isles zone. Those additions along with Mayfield’s grit and confidence starting the odd-man rush, the young Isles D have a chance to shine this season under a new defensive scheme that won’t block as many shots, but one that’s poised to join the rush offensively. Per Arthur Staple, “Weight said tonight (final game vs Philly) was Pulock's best game of the preseason. Felt Mayfield was #Isles best player Friday in Buffalo.” The players seem to feel the same way. “I think we all accomplished the first goal, which is making the roster,” Mayfield said Sunday night. “Now you want to be a guy that can be an every-night player, someone who can be relied on to play a big role. That’s what all three of us are competing for and I think that competition made for good camps for all of us.” Couple them with some of the veterans on the blue-line and New York looks good on the back end. Johnny Boychuk (3 pts in 3 games) appears back on track and Seidenberg, Leddy, Hickey and de Haan look ready to get things started.


Jaroslav Halak (2-0 in 3gp, .974Sv% and .75gaa) and Thomas Greiss (2-0 in 3gp, .961Sv% and a 1.13gaa) seem ready to get their tandem duties in check and fight for the number one spot. Gibson, McAdam and Gudlevskis will fight it out on the farm and should offer the Isles some good depth in net when called upon.


While the PK has been consistently good, the Isles PP needs to be much better. I would again venture to say that it will dictate the success of their season. Perhaps some of the new blood and new overseers will help its cause. One can only hope. Isles open the season Friday night in Columbus.


"There's a lot of confidence," Beauvillier said. "We've played strong preseason games and it's fun when you win, it's always more fun. I just can't wait for Friday. Let's get it going."





Isles Notes:


Time to give up on Islanders’ return to Coliseum?


Per @HockeyGoalieEh, “Interesting - Tavares leads all NHL forwards in 5v5 ice team over the last three seasons at 3646.94.”



Sound Tigers Notes:


Casey Bailey (RW) has agreed to terms on an #AHL deal w/the #SoundTigers.

Seventh-year forward Ryan Bourque has agreed to terms on an #AHL deal.


NHL Notes:


10/2 Per Elliotte Friedman, “Jagr is done to CAL. $1M+$1M in bonuses. I think it might not be announced until he gets to the city, but there is a commitment.”

10/1 per Bob McKenzie, “DET has released P.A. Parenteau from his PTO.”

J.F. Berube was waived by Chicago yesterday.





Friday, September 29, 2017

The Isles Belmont Bid Is In


The deadline for the Islanders to submit a bid to develop a new arena and complex at Belmont Park needed to be done prior to 2 pm yesterday after official proposals were requested on August 1st. So what happened? The Islanders have “submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park.” Per Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky of Newsday, “The Islanders’ group is labeled New York Arena Partners, LLC. It includes Sterling Project Development, which is controlled by the Wilpon family, the Mets owners, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed by Madison Square Garden.” The plans would most likely include a destination that would develop other viable infrastructure on the property, around a state of the art facility.


“The Belmont RFP calls for plans that include retail, entertainment, sports and hospitality options on the 43-acre vacant land surrounding the horse track. ESD has given no timeline for its decision and it could be several months before the state picks a winning bidder.” The Islanders are currently in negotiations to modify their lease at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but reports of ownership touring other new NHL arenas (at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena yesterday according to John Shannon) and what they have to offer have surfaced over the last year, so the rumors seem to be accurate. If the re-negotiations don’t go well, executives could terminate it as of January, 2018. 


Could the revived preseason experiment at the renovated (still small, inefficient and still limited luxury suite designed) Nassau Coliseum be a test for a temporary alternative to the Barc if things go south? Twitter exploded yesterday when the Islanders announced that NHL GM's have been told to not bother inquiring on John Tavares until at least January 1, possibly, further solidifying the of a JT’s extension to be tied into new arena deal. The rumors remain that both Tavares and the Islanders organization are not worried about the talks.


The Islanders group was quoted as saying, “We look forward to discussing with the Empire State Development Corporation.”


The NYCFC professional soccer team also wants to build their own 26,000 seat stadium on the site. The organization is owned in part by the New York Yankees, who along with partners appear to be the major source of competition against the Islanders. Per Bloomberg.com, “NYCFC said it would submit a proposal in a partnership with the Related Cos., a real estate firm founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.”


The New York Cosmos tried a couple of times to build a stadium on the site, but failed. But don’t think the NYCFC and its backers are going to go down quietly. They will only back out if opportunities are better elsewhere or things aren’t worth pursuing. And the Blumfield Development Group didn't submit another proposal after being denied on two previous bids, most recently among four failed bidders in 2013.


“The Belmont site in Elmont, New York, is controlled by the New York Racing Authority and sits about 19 miles east of Manhattan, just outside of Queens. It is accessible by car and by regional rail, and an arena there would bring the Islanders closer to its traditional Nassau County fan base.”


Andy Graziano points out, “Can't make this stuff up....#isles Belmont bid backed by Sterling (Wilpon) and Oakview (MSG). Oakview helping renegotiation with Barc. Lol.” So we wait on the next dramatic chapter of “Isles Uncertainty” to unfold, “Lighthouse” be damned!

Until then, we wait for the Empire State Development Corporation to pick a winner.





Isles Notes:


Islanders finish pre-season at Sabres tonight 7 p.m., and then at Flyers on Sunday, 5 p.m.


Per Arthur Staple, “Weight asked if Barzal has done enough at this point to make the team: "Yes."

Ho-Sang is getting the job done so far at Isles camp.

Per Brian Compton, “FWIW, Doug Weight told me this morning he's willing to sit veterans if the kids are outplaying them.”



NHL Notes:


NHL announces rule changes for 2017-18 season





Saturday, September 23, 2017

Islanders Sign Kieffer Bellows to ELC & Mid-Point Notes on Isles Camp


Yesterday, our New York Islanders announced that 6’1, 201#, Kieffer Bellows agreed to terms on a three-year, ELC. Son of former NHL’er, Brian Bellows, Kieffer was a member of team U.S.A. National Development Program, where he helped his squad win a gold medal at the U-20 WJC this year, netting 2 goals in the finals. He also has an international bronze medal to his credit from the 2016 U18 WC with 5 & 3 for 8 pts. in 7 games at the tournament.


Per release, “A native of Edina, MN, Bellows scored 81 points (50 goals, 31 assists) in 62 games while with the United States National Team Development Program in 2015-16. He finished second on the club in scoring and became just the fourth player to score 50 goals in a season with the U.S. Under-18 team, joining Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.”


Bellows was the Isles first round selection (19th overall) in the 2016 National Hockey League Draft and had 14 points (7 & 7) in 34 games as a freshman with B.U. Bellows said he wanted to commit to playing the 2017-18 season for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, so the timing of the signing was a bit of a surprise to me. The only thing I could think of is that Bellows made an early impression to where the Isles feel he could be used in Bridgeport (when eligible) sooner rather than later, especially while they continue to observe if their rosters meet expectations. While talented, Bellows needs more fine tuning to play at the pro level and should be given every opportunity to develop properly.



The Islanders have been tuning up for their season with a rookie and team camp, and the buzz is starting with fan favorites, and “could-be” future stars getting a look by the staff and fans for the first time this summer. Per The Hockey News, the Islanders finished tied for 3rd (Caps) with 199 even strength goals (Pens & Wild) last season. Their PK is and has been very good. I think the ‘17-18 Isles could just be a PP away from a dominant team in the east. Can Buchberger & Gomez help put in the right man-up scheme in place for the team to take that jump and can Eberle & possibly Pulock raise the bar enough offensively to help get them there?


Our New York Islanders started camp roster with 52 players: 31 forwards, 16 defensemen, 5 goaltenders per Staple. Camp is a great way for the new coaching staff to gel, get to know their veterans and prospects and come together on who will best fit the needs of the new look team as they approach the 2017-18 NHL season. While the buzz on the eventual signing of John Tavares lingers, the players and prospects seem eager to get things back on track in Islanders country.


Arthur Staple got a couple of quotes that caught my attention for sure. “Clutterbuck on Sunday's Coliseum game: ‘It's the first time I've seen so many veterans say they want to play the first preseason game." And with the vacancies and injuries reported prior to camp, the prospects are fired up as well. “Scott Mayfield on #Isles D: "Everyone knows what Travis meant to the organization. But now there's also a spot open there and I want it."


So the Isles opened their preseason against the Flyers with a 3-2 OT win at the sold out (13,917) refurbished Coliseum. Hey followed up with a controversial (goal disallowed) 1-0 OT loss to the Rangers, a split squad 3-2 win and 3-2 OT loss against the Flyers. Last night against the Rangers, the Isles pulled off a 2-1 win in Bridgeport in the Webster Bank Arena at Harbour yard. The warm-up schedule finishes with the Devils in Brooklyn on Monday, at Sabres on Friday and another tilt against the Flyers in Philadelphia on October 1st, before their October 6th season opener at Columbus.


On the pre-season stat sheet, the Isles had some regulars and some exciting names contribute offensively so far. Barzal, Beauvillier, Eberle, Lee, Pulock and Tavares all have 2 points so far, with Barzal and JT scoring 2 goals each. Cizikas, Boychuk, Ladd and Devon Toews all have a goal to their credit. In all, 17 players have registered at least a point out of the 47 players to see varying degrees of action and playing time during camp, including goalies.


Speaking of goaltenders, Jaroslav Halak still has that axe to grind and he doesn’t seem to want to go away quietly. Halak has seen action in 2 games, gotten a win and stopped 52 of 53 shots, posting a .60gaa and a 981Sv%. Thomas Greiss has played in 1 game and posted a 1.50gaa with a .944Sv%. Minor leaguers, Christopher Gibson (2 games, 1 win, 2.00gaa and .900Sv%), Eamon McAdam (1 game, 2.61gaa and .950Sv%) and Kristers Gudlevskis (2 games, 1 win, 3.50gaa and .864Sv%) got a look as well and gave the coaches at Bridgeport some data as they prepare for their own camp opening on Monday.


Arthur Staple had a few roster updates for the team at the mid-point of camp.

He mentioned the first major shift of players went down and likely bound for Bridgeport in time for their Monday open to camp. 

That leaves 31 players remaining in main group, (18 F, 9 D and 4 G).

The full list of moves, releases, waivers and remaining players can be found in this update per release:


Sebastian Aho, Kyle Burroughs, Michael Dal Colle, Tanner Fritz, Ross Johnston, Kane LaFranchise, Eamon McAdam, Kyle Schempp, John Stevens, Devon Toews, Mitchell Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon.

Six other players were released from their professional tryout contracts: Casey Bailey, Scott Eansor, Jeff Kubiak, Ben Holmstrom, Travis St. Denis and Yannick Turcotte

The Islanders also placed the following players on waivers: Christopher Gibson, Kristers Gudlevskis, Seth Helgeson and Connor Jones.

The Isles also returned Kieffer Bellows, Arnaud Durandeau and David Quenneville to their junior clubs. - Staple


Per Release, the Islanders roster looks like this as of this afternoon:

Forwards:

Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Steve Bernier, Jason Chimera, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Jordan Eberle, Stephen Gionta, Joshua Ho-Sang, Connor Jones, Nikolay Kulemin, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Shane Prince**, Alan Quine** & John Tavares

Defensemen:

Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan, Seth Helgeson, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelec, Ryan Pulock, Dennis Seidenberg

Goaltenders:

Christopher Gibson, Thomas Greiss, Kristers Gudlevskis, Jaroslav Halak

** - denotes player on injured reserve


Today’s practice showed (Staple) the lines of Lee-Tavares-Eberle, Ladd-Barzal-Bailey, Beau-Nelson-Ho-Sang, Kulemin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck & Chimera-Gionta-Bernier. First PP unit of Leddy-Barzal-Lee-Tavares-Eberle and 2nd unit of Pulock-Bailey-Ho-Sang-Nelson-Ladd, with Boychuk and de Haan included in the drill work. Pelech (Signed one-way, 4 year deal in late July) and Mayfield have more NHL experience and are the guys I feel are fighting for the open defensive spot, despite the attractive idea of Pulock sticking around, especially on the PP. Like all young D-men, Pulock needs to sharpen his skills a little more defensively before he can make the AHL to NHL leap.





Isles Notes:


Per Dan Saraceni at Lighthouse Hockey, “Beyond nostalgia, Ledecky gives update on team’s Belmont RFP bid.”


On 9/20 per Chris Botta, “Will be writing 2-3 #Isles columns a week starting Oct. 3. Got ideas, tips, opinions (ha!)? Please place in replies or email. Thx!”


Per Arthur Staple, “Weight outlined staff responsibilities: Cronin runs PK, Buchberger/Gomez on PP, Richardson runs the D. Gomez eye in the sky for games.”


9/13, “Casey Bailey, attending #Isles camp on a PTO, was in attendance today. So were Steve Bernier and Seth Helgeson, both on two-way deals.”


On 9/12, Isles Blog did a twitter poll for #isles season ticket holders getting close to 600 votes. “For ticket holders, if #Isles ended up with a short term situation that had games at BOTH Barclays and Coliseum, how would that impact you?” 18% said worse, 19% said no change and 63% said better.


Per Randi Marshall, “Talked to Brett Yormark today, who's hoping yesterday's Coliseum game is "first step" to bringing #isles back.”




Sound Tigers Notes:


Matt Lane, Kellen Jones, Pat Cullity & Mike Cornell have agreed to #AHL deals.





Monday, September 11, 2017

2017 KoC New York Islanders Season Preview


Doug Weight renewed the teams’ focus at the end of last season and the offense and defensive units went through some restructuring. The special teams were a bit scattered and ultimately they missed the playoffs by a point. My take on last season and supporting stats can be found in part one and part two of last season’s recap.

Considering the coming season and what might be in store for our New York Islanders, a few things stand out. The foremost thing on the minds of the fan base is the John Tavares contract extension. It’s been said by JT and his teammates, that this shouldn’t be an issue entering the season. Tavares seems comfortable with the situation right now and is waiting to see the final roster, chemistry and most importantly, the future venue of the Islanders. The back and forth of the Barclays Center, its problematic ice and state of the art, yet abbreviated amenities experienced by Islanders fans has been a hot button issue since the team has moved to Brooklyn. Rumors of a Belmont Park bid should come into focus at the end of the month and could be tied to the team’s future with Tavares.


But the real question we all have is who will be playing with John Tavares on the Isles top line. Anders Lee had a break out year (3rd in team points with 52 pts) last season and Josh Bailey played the best hockey he’s ever shown (2nd in team pts with 56) as an Islander. Both wingers had chemistry while playing with Tavares, but it’s also interesting to think about recent acquisition, Jordan Eberle (51 points with EDM last season) playing with Tavares on that first line. Isles country is excited to see what Eberle will bring and to see if he can be a pure scorer as advertised or the talented player that only scores against weaker teams. Apparently, Connor McDavid certainly wasn’t happy to see Eberle go. “It sucks' losing … Eberle to trade, but it's a business.” – McDavid. What can be said is that Eberle is a friend and countryman of Tavares, very familiar with him on the ice after much international play with team Canada since the junior level. As informal skates turn into camp and the team starts evaluating their roster, it will be interesting to see how the lines shake out.


Bailey would look good on the second line with Brock Nelson and exciting forward, Josh Ho-Sang who should secure a regular spot with the big club this season. Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier should also get a serious look out of camp and would be a good fit with an experienced and renewed Andrew Ladd after a big push (31 pts for 7th on team) on the stat sheet at the end of last season.


Jason Chimera also enjoyed a surge (33 points, good for 6th on team) as the Isles made their playoff push and might make the perfect complement to Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. Cizikas (25pts) and Clutterbuck (20 pts) need a bounce back season and will be relied upon to bring their intangible energy and snarl to the Islanders offense. Shane Prince will miss up to 6 months due to injury while versatile Nikolay Kulemin ($4.187M) and big hearted, Alan Quine ($612K) both have 1 year left on their deals and will need to show other teams what they can offer or somehow make quite a splash to remain. Especially with cap room at such a premium.

UPDATE: 9/12 Per Arthur Staple, “Alan Quine out 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury. Opens a spot up front for a young player out of camp.”

On the defensive side, Nick Leddy (4th on team with 46pts) will be relied upon even more from the blue line with Travis Hamonic being lost (CGY) to free agency. Leddy has grown to be the Isles go to, all-purpose D-man since being acquired in a trade with Chicago for defensemen T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka and the rights to restricted free-agent goaltender Anders Nilsson in October of 2014. The Isles will also look to Johnny Boychuk to bounce back after missing 16 games last season and add his brand of high level defensive and special teams prowess. The ever steady Thomas Hickey will be back for at least one more season (2018-19 UFA) and Calvin de Haan will be looking to make a statement as well and build on last season’s strong career showing to show management he is a cornerstone for the Isles future playoff plan. 


Dennis Seidenberg earned an extension after being more than just a stop gap last season and should lend some veteran stability to New York's defensive core, especially with newly re-signed Adam Pelech and hungry, talented prospects like Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock fighting to get noticed in camp. Never forget the shows put on by Devon Toews, Sebastian Aho, Robin Salo, Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon last season, scrimmage this summer and this season’s rookie camp currently under way. The rookie camp will also feature a rookie game in Philadelphia on Wednesday Sept. 13 against the Flyers.


In net, Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak will get a shot at earning the number one spot. Greiss (26-18, 2.69 gaa, .913Sv%) has been a reliable anchor when slotted as a number one and we all know Halak (12-9, 2.80 gaa, .915Sv%) can be a top NHL goalie when healthy. Management wants Greiss in the future plan after re-signing him to a three-year extension, but Halak (1 Yr @ $4.5M remaining) will be a free agent next summer. The Isles added Kristers Gudlevskis for NHL-AHL depth along with BST goaltenders, Eamon McAdam and Christopher Gibson. Linus Soderstrom is at least a year out from the organizational fold, but is sure to be featured prominently in their soon to be future.


The Islanders have $2,984,167 in Cap Space (CapFriendlyand a need to manage their money and assets extra carefully with re-signing Tavares in their immediate plans. They also need to hope Doug Weight’s new look coaching staff of Greg Cronin (Assoc.), Kelley Buchberger (Asst.), Luke Richardson (Asst.), ScottGomez (Asst.), Matt Berttani (Asst.) and Fred Braithwaite (Goaltending) along with Chris Terreri (Goaltending Development Coach and Goalie Coach for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers) can make an impact as well. Improvements on offense, defense, special teams and consistency are all needed to take the next step. That’s a collection of mostly experienced and all talented coaches to partner with a new look Islanders team with a ton on the line and time ticking away on the new ownership's dime.


Here’s to a new season, a million possibilities and a single goal in mind.





Isles Notes:


Nassau Coliseum not an option for Islanders, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says.


Former Isles captains concerned about franchise's future.


The Hartford and the Belmont Dilemma.



New Isles Practice Jerseys



###


Take a moment to remember the fallen heroes & people who lost their lives 

in the 9/11 attacks. #NeverForget




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Isle Be There: The Big Picture with Bruce Bennett


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, situations and personalities in and around the team as it relates to its fan base and community.


Bruce Bennett is a name all hockey fans know, and know well. He has over 42 years in the books as a professional hockey photographer. That includes covering over 4,800 NHL games in 53 different arenas, he has captured some the most iconic hockey photos ever taken. Bennett estimates to have captured over 42,000 photographs that have been used in virtually every major newspaper and magazine around the world as well as on licensed products such as trading cards and posters.


Per brucebennetstudios.com, “Bruce has covered a total of 37 Stanley Cup deciding games. In addition, he has shot 28 All-Star games, four Olympics and over 393 international hockey games. He has served as the team photographer for the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.”


Bruce was born in Brooklyn in and raised in Levittown, New York and is still residing on the Island with his wife, BettyAnn, and two children, Melanie and Max. If they weren’t already aware, Isles fans would immediately recognize the major role Bruce Bennett has played in the visual history of our New York Islanders since 1981 by looking at his rich portfolio.

“Funny what a little cotton and kerosene can do for an image. One of the NHL’s most prolific scorers, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders, posed for a few frames that I shot for a newspaper cover that was commissioned by The Hockey News in 1980.” Getty Images- InFocus

“When stars collide! Capturing big hits on the ice is great, but capturing two of the league’s biggest stars is even better. Known for his patented hip check amongst other things, Denis Potvin nails Montreal’s star forward Guy Lafleur in an open ice hit – something we don’t see often enough in the NHL these days.” Getty Images- InFocus


So I asked my friend, Steve Feldman, team photographer for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on what he thought about Bruce Bennett. Steve has his own photos on about 500 hockey cards, in magazines, billboards, newspapers and on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

He replied, “Bruce is a great guy and the best hockey photographer out there.”


Per brucebennetstudios.com, "By 2004, via acquisitions and production of new photography, BBS had amassed a library of over two million hockey images dating back to 1900. In September of that year, Bruce Bennett Studios (BBS) was acquired by Getty Images and Bruce joined the company as their Director of Photography, Hockey Imagery."


Bruce Bennett Fantasy Stats:

(Through July 5, 2017)


4569 Regular season/playoffs

285 NHL Preseason Games

28 NHL All-Star Games

37 NHL Stanley Cup deciding games

1 Winter Classic Game

2 Outdoor NHL Games

TOTAL NHL Games Shot 4882

213 Int Tours, tournaments, exhibitions

180 Olympic Games

8 WHA Games

24 Old-timers & Masters Games

53 Minors, Juniors & College games

43 Seasons

53 Arenas Shot in for Regular Season NHL games

36 NHL Amateur Drafts

1 Memorial Cup Final

1 NWHL

1 Swedish Hockey league

TOTAL GAMES SHOT 5362


Bruce Bennett’s 2015 book, ‘Hockey’s Greatest Photos’ is sold out everywhere and won’t be reprinted according to the publisher, but he plans on a follow-up publication very soon.  “I am currently in the planning stage of producing a second book with the same company who also publishes The Hockey News.”


It was my pleasure to ask Bruce a few questions about his history with the Islanders and about his legendary career as a visual story teller in the NHL and the great game of hockey.



Knight of Cups: How do you think the 2017-18 Islanders roster is shaping up?

Bruce Bennett: “The fact is Joe, that I just show up and shoot. Of course, I always welcome new faces in the lineup as it gives me something to focus on (pun intended). I was never good at looking at lineups and knowing which players are on what lines unless it became an issue in terms of photographic coverage. Meaning that if I had to capture a lot of images of two guys who played together I would have to be cognizant of splitting my time. All that said, I am looking forward to seeing if Tavares will mesh with Eberle.”


Knight of Cups: What do you think of shooting games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn?

Bruce Bennett: “Except for a somewhat longer commute to games from Nassau County, and looking past some early issues, the arena has been great for me. I have my usual ‘deep corner’ position and my laptop sits beside me so I can transmit pictures during timeouts. I rarely have this option available to me in other venues. Everyone in the arena and in the Islanders organization has been super helpful in insuring that it would be a smooth transition to Brooklyn.”


Knight of Cups: In April of 2014, you photographed your 5000th hockey game. What was it like being presented with a jersey by the Islanders organization, recognizing your contributions to their visual history? 

Bruce Bennett: “That was a very cool experience. It was very important to me not only because I grew up on Long Island and take great pride in living here, but also because Getty Images and the Islanders partnered on the presentation. Most importantly, my family was given seats at the game. It was amazing having them there.”


Knight of Cups: What was your favorite shot from last year’s Isles season?

Bruce Bennett: “It’s difficult to pick one out, but probably an image of Josh Bailey scoring against Detroit that was shot with the camera in the net.”


Knight of Cups: What were your top 3, all-time favorite Islanders moments to capture on film?

Bruce Bennett: “Forty-three years is a bit of a blur, but of course, the top moment was the Cup win in 1980. Second is covering the Islanders win the Cup in Vancouver and the late night trip back. Everything else ties for third place.”


Knight of Cups: Over the years, who were your top 3 favorite Islanders players to photograph?

Bruce Bennett: “For many years I maintained that Tomas Jonsson was my favorite player to shoot because of the facial expressions he would make. So, I think I have to stick with him as one of the three. Denis Potvin has always been a favorite of mine because he was such a smooth skater while also being the personification of power on ice. And I can’t leave out Bobby Nystrom, whose blonde hair flowed majestically as he skated up ice.”


Knight of Cups: Did you ever meet Al Arbour? Did you have any interactions you would like to share?

Bruce Bennett: “What an extraordinary individual! Tough when he needed to be, and gentle as well with a great sense of humor. I started with the Islanders in late 1981, so was their team photographer for the last two Cups and each year that involved a trip to the Arbour’s home for some family shots with the trophy. I still have the fondest memories of how kind and warm he and his whole family were to me.”


Knight of Cups: Who is your favorite all-time NHL player as a fan?

Bruce Bennett: “You can’t be a fan… and a photographer at the same time, it’s just not possible. But if I were to pick one, it would be Wayne Gretzky. Although prior to becoming a pro photographer and through my first couple of years of shooting I always loved Bobby Orr.”


Knight of Cups: What was your most interesting encounter with a player?

Bruce Bennett: “I was on a hockey player exhibition game tour of Europe during the NHL lockout in 2004. I was walking the streets of Prague on an off day with another photographer, and Martin Brodeur snuck up behind me and grabbed my camera off my shoulder. It scared the hell out of me. I knew him pretty well from New Jersey Devils games and I was friendly with his father who was a famous hockey photographer. It wasn’t like we were complete strangers but it was definitely an interesting experience.”


Knight of Cups: Strangest behind the scenes moment.

Bruce Bennett: “At the NHL All-Star games especially in the earlier years, I would spend time quickly posing players singly or in groups team-by-team. Those were usually in the very dated hockey pose I call “1A” - the player bent at the waste hovering over his stick which is planted on the ice. In 1991, during the All- Star game in Chicago, I was sitting in the corner of the rink after morning sessions waiting for a faceoff. I glanced over at Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios as he was also waiting for the faceoff and he immediately moved into pose “1A” and the crowd cracked up.”


Knight of Cups: Most memorable interaction with a fan.

Bruce Bennett: “It’s always interesting walking through an arena to hear someone yell “Hey Einstein”. The similarity between Einstein and me is, well, purely relative. I prefer the more obscure “Hey, Mark Twain” or even the “Mr. Kotter” mocking I would get from the days when my hair was black. “


Knight of Cups: What are 3 things most fans do not know about hockey photographers?

Bruce Bennett: “First, we get into games for free. Second, our feet get cold rink side. Lastly, we watch the entire game through one eye.”


Knight of Cups: Of all the photos you've taken, which has the most meaning to you personally?

Bruce Bennett: “I guess it is the image of Wayne Gretzky in the locker room at a young age. The image was used on the cover of my book that came out in 2015. It’s meaningful to me because it reminds me of just how far photography and hockey have come in all my years in this business. The image is a poorly exposed black-and-white frame of a frail kid wearing high school hockey style padding. Times have certainly changed a lot on the photography side, as we moved from film to digital.”


Knight of Cups: What was your most interesting moment as a sports photographer?

Bruce Bennett: “Managing the Getty Images coverage of the ice hockey venues at the Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. It’s a far cry from travelling to a game alone and shooting and transmitting your own images. A gold medal game with five photographers, almost a dozen remote cameras- the fear of failure could turn a guy’s hair gray. Oops, too late. It was my fourth Olympics and the game plan of coverage can leave zero chance for failure. If you can’t get up for that challenge, you should stay home. Even without NHL players coming to South Korea in 2018, I’m already preparing the details of my intended coverage. And looking forward to it!”


Knight of Cups: What other subjects do you like to photograph?

Bruce Bennett: “I like shooting surfing and dogs in action at the dog park. It’s a great way to stay sharp and test the limits of your equipment.”


Knight of Cups: At what moment did you know you wanted to immortalize moments in time on the ice as a career?

Bruce Bennett: “I started shooting at 18 and certainly at that time I didn’t give it all that much thought. Just figured I could get into games for free and maybe make a few dollars. I think that it wasn’t until I did a less than stellar job covering the Montreal Canadiens cup win over the Rangers in 1979 that I realized I needed to be better, smarter, and faster. I owed it not only to myself and my clients, but I felt that I bore some responsibility for capturing hockey moments for posterity. And I still feel that way.”


Knight of Cups: Who is an up and coming sports photographer we should keep an eye on?

Bruce Bennett: “A few of the newer Getty Images staffers like Maddie Meyer (in Boston) bring their ‘A’ game every night whether it’s hockey or anything else. Working out of Phoenix, we have Christian Petersen who is as motivated a shooter as I’ve even seen. He takes his work very seriously, excels at shooting all sports and won’t be denied any shot. He also has that creative flair which I lack and am very envious of. Patrick Smith who isn’t a newcomer to sports photography but joined Getty only a few years back has shown that he can shoot all sports really well. He also has the ability to come up with some great action shots along with some new creative angles. I had him help with the coverage of the NHL Finals this past season, and he certainly didn’t disappoint!”


Knight of Cups: Do you have any tips for the average fan for taking pictures at the game?

Bruce Bennett: “Always fill the frame. Cropping into an image reduces the resolution and sharpness. Additionally, don’t be thrown off by the white ice. It will mess up your exposure and turn the ice gray. Pick an exposure by the look of the faces and jerseys and shoot with manual settings.”


Knight of Cups: Who would you call your biggest influence or taught you the most on your way to being a professional photographer?

Bruce Bennett: “A Long Island based photographer Joe DiMaggio along with his wife Joanne Kalish took me under their wing and were very generous with their knowledge and guidance.”


Knight of Cups: Who has been your biggest supporter away from the ice?

Bruce Bennett: “When I got started at 18 years old, my mom and dad were very supportive… that is, as long as I finished college and got my accounting degree. Then they afforded me enough time to get my photography business off the ground. My wife is extremely supportive as she sees firsthand how much time and effort I put in to being the best I can be. My two kids are always big fans of my work, and of course, my family at Getty Images has shown many times that they trust me and support my decisions when it comes to covering the sport.”


Knight of Cups: What do you love the most about your career?

Bruce Bennett: “Every day is a new day with new challenges. If you didn’t get the shot last game, you might just get it tonight. I still admire how goalies let one in but then bounce back and get the next one. I sometimes have nightmares for years when I miss a shot. But I equate what I do to golfers. They always say that it’s that one special shot that brings you back tomorrow.”


KoC: Anything else you would like to add?

Bruce Bennett: “Baba Booey”

A Baba Booey and a Fa Fa Foe Foe, Fooey to you Bruce.



I’d like to thank Bruce for sharing some of his story with me and all who support me at Knight of Cups.


Here's to capturing a few more memories to add to the storied history of our Islanders.



Bruce Bennett is available for assignment work through Getty Images.

Contact the Getty Images Photo Assignment Desk at nyphotoassignment@gettyimages.com  646-613-4000






Isles Notes:



Islanders Name Terreri Goaltending Development Coach.

Per Arthur Staple, “Isles announced G Linus Soderstrom was loaned to HV71 of Swedish League -- paper transaction since he was playing there regardless this yr.”

Doyle “Somerby was offered an AHL deal by #Isles, I believe. Gets a 2-year ELC from CBJ.”


Per minnesotahockey.org, "From Crosstown Rivals to NHL Teammates, Nick Leddy and Anders Lee."


The #Isles will host the NHLCentennial Fan Arena Sept. 16 & 17.


Per Josh Kosman, NY Post, “Prokhorov wants #Isles to play significant amount of games at NVMC in the 2018-19 season.”