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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cizikas is an Islander

Casey Cizikas has agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the New York Islanders.

Cizikas, 20, is one of the Isles blue chip prospects and has really turned up his game.  Last season for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League, Cizikas scored a career-high 29 and 35 in 52 games this season. In addition, he had an impressive playoff run with 19 points in 16 OHL games.

Although the Majors lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Finals, Cizikas has proven to be the potential asset the Islanders thought he was when they selected the 6’0”, 185-pound forward in the forth round, 92nd overall in the 2009 National Hockey League Draft.  A draft position that was later than anticipated after Cizikas was involved with an incident that had him brought up on manslaughter charges in 2007 in which a Brampton Ontario court gave Cizikas a sentence of one year probation and 100 hours of community service.  He has put the past behind him and made strides to reclaim the possibility of a bright NHL career.

He finished his OHL career with Mississauga with 88 and 115 in 237 games.  His playoff performance yielded 18 and 27 in 47 games.  Much like Anders Nilsson, Casey Cizikas
needed to be signed by Tuesday or the Islanders would have lost his rights and he would have gone back into this year’s draft.

In addition, Cizikas won a Silver Medal for Team Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.





As for me, I’ll be away until June 6th.  I am sure that I will be able to catch us up on more exciting Islander news at that time.  Thanks for checking me out and I’ll be back soon.

News for May 31st


After 11-7 vote today, the Legislature passed the New Coliseum referendum to be on August 1 ballot.  It is now in the hands of the people in Nassau County.  Charles Wang mentioned of the approval, "I believe this day will go down in history as a first step."

The National Hockey League is almost back to the city of Winnipeg with Today's announcement that True North Sports and Entertainment has bought the Atlanta Thrashers with intentions of moving the team.  The NHL Board of Governors is expected to conduct a final vote at the June 26th meetings.  The strength of the dollar at $1.02 Canadian to U.S. is the most notable factor in the deal going through as opposed to .$60 it was in 1996 when the Jets Franchise left Canada.  Gary Bettman concluded, "Hockey in Canada has never been stronger." "We get to be back in a place we wish had not left in 1996."


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

Let us take time to remember what the last Monday in May really means. 

Memorial Day is a day of mourning to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.  As Americans, the significance of such a day needs to stay with us and be more than just a day off from work or a chance to attend a summer party.  Please don’t forget, instead offer a time for contemplation to those who were lost to us.  Remember them and what they did so the United States could remain free and vigilant.

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Isles sign Nilsson

Goaltender Anders Nilsson has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the New York Islanders.

Nilsson was the Islanders third round pick, 62nd overall at the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft.  The Swedish prospect played a total of 60 games over the last four seasons in the Swedish Elite League with Lulea HF, posting a .918 save percentage and a 1.92 goals against average in 31 games.  A career best for the the 6’5”, 220 lb. Goaltender.

Anders Nilsson was a member of Team Sweden’s silver medal winning club at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia.  He also has won a bronze medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships.


Chris Botta reports Nilsson needed to be signed by Tuesday or the Islanders would have lost his rights. Nilsson will most likely play in Sweden for another season.  No time would come off his NYI deal.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Presence on Long Island


Doug Weight was selected in the 2nd round of the 1990 NHL draft, 34th overall by the New York Rangers.  He played professional hockey for 19 years, dressing for 7 NHL teams.  Weight was 301and 804 for 1,105 career points in 1,335 regular season and NHL playoff games.  As a four time All-Star, 2006 Stanley Cup Winner and Olympic silver medal holder, Weight finished his career as the Captain of the rebuilding New York Islanders.  In his time with the Islanders, injuries were affecting his ability to contribute, limiting him to just 54 games.  Today, on May 26, 2011, Doug Weight retired from a storied pro hockey career. 

In a press conference commemorating his time as a hockey player, Doug Weight sat with Islanders owner, Charles Wang, Islanders General manager, Garth Snow, members of his family, friends and a select mix of team mates, both old and new.  A brief video of career highlights streamed before those gathered illustrating the many accomplishments and events of Weight’s storied career.  A video Weight said with a smile that was “more than he deserved.”  He spoke of when he was traded from the Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers on the day they were both scheduled to play at MSG in New York, he gathered his gear in a shopping cart and wheeled it down the hall to the visitors dressing room to meet his new team mates.  It was then he mentioned, that he started to understand the business of hockey.  Afterwards, he spoke of how fortunate he was being able to retire as a member of the 4-time cup winning New York Islanders.  A team, he mentioned that was built on dedication and commitment.

Weight went on to thank the Islander players, staff and organization, which to him represented an extended family fostered by Charles Wang.  He spoke of his times as a silver medal Olympian and those that involved Team USA member of the fabled 2006 world cup team which beat Canada for the gold medal in the world championships.  He raved about the current players of the Islanders, men who he himself helped mentor over the last two seasons and has watched grow in ability and confidence under his leadership, both on and off the ice.  He became emotional when he spoke of old teammates and friends, especially former Isles captain, Billy Guerin who was in attendance at the event.  He gave credit to his wife and children for their support and partnership as a professional athlete and thanks to his parents for their sacrifices to allow him to live his dream as a pro hockey player.  All in all, it was a lifetime and career that had all come down to a few moments of celebration and gratitude by peers and fans alike.  “I only wish I could’ve stayed healthy longer and played as well as I know I can,” said Weight.

Islander owner, Charles Wang made a joke about Weight starting his career with the Rangers, he needed to start somewhere, he alluded.  Of Weight, Wang mentioned that he was a great leader that guided the team through some difficult times and pushed his teammates to achieve more.  Islanders General Manager, Garth Snow spoke of the search for free agents at the start of the 2008 season.  He said when Doug Weight came into consideration; the one word that he heard most often about him was “Presence.”  He went on to say Weight was a quality person and that he was fortunate to have him as a member of the Organization.  He concluded with saying Weight will continue to be a part of the team as an Assistant Coach and Special Assistant to the General Manager for the New York Islanders.  Said Snow, “He (Weight) has a lot to offer the organization and me.  There’s so many levels that he can be helpful with.”

When taking questions from the media, Weight admitted he was excited to remain with pro hockey in this capacity and that he would also be doing color cementation for the NHL network during the Stanley Cup Finals this season.  As an element to what he needed to draw from as an assistant coach, he mentioned was how close knit the 05-06 Carolina Hurricanes were that won the Stanley Cup, and what it meant to them as a group competing for a common goal.  Weight went on to credit Garth Snow with an incredible work ethic and admitted he had a lot to learn form him with his new challenge. 

Weight added, that after playing 1600 games, and being a hockey player since he was 2 years old, he has a lot to learn in his new role. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Okie-Dokie!

The New York Islanders have signed Kyle Okposo to a 5-year contract.  Okposo is another crucial piece in the Islander rebuild.  The contract is rumored to be structured similar to Grabner’s deal.  The deal pays Okposo $1 M next season; $2 M in 12-13; $3 M in 13-14; $3.5 M in 14-15 and $4.5 Million in 15-16.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What if?

Left Wing Jason Gregoire, a 2007 third-round draft pick, #76 overall has decided to turn pro and become an unrestricted free agent in July of this year.  Oddly enough, 2007 sixth-round draft pick, 166th overall, Defensemen Blake Kessel has made a similar choice.  Both are prospects that may have figured into the Islanders rebuild in the near future.


Gregoire finished last season at North Dakota with 25 and 18 for 43 in 35 games, while Kessel, a major factor on defense for the University of New Hampshire finished with a respectable 5 and 22 for 27 in 39 games.


Per Chris Botta, the current NHL collective bargaining agreement says a player can entertain all offers as a free agent, even if previously drafted 30 days after leaving school and four years after their original draft date.  This strategy was employed by Blake Wheeler after he was drafted 5th overall in the first round of the 2004 by the Phoenix Coyotes.  He later signed with the Boston Bruins in 2008.


This doesn’t mean that either player won’t sign with the Islanders, but it may mean that the offers they made didn’t meet with their expectations.  It means they will try the path of the mercenary and take a chance with a team offering a  larger monetary figure or appear to be more advantageous to sign with. 

Sometimes the choices we make may come back to haunt us.

Optimism

After much of the morning was taken up by other topics, the Nassau County legislator agreed to discuss the referendum vote that would be set for May 31st.  Both Democrats and Republicans seemed to agree that the project deserved to be put in front of the people of Nassau County.  The referendum sounds like it is expected to pass.

The town would then vote on Aug 1st for a $400 million bond to build the new areneer (little joke there) arena.  If it comes to pass, it would be the chance to save a stagnant economy by not only investing in themselves, but in a premiere sports destination for all of Long Island. 

Build it now.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Let the Nassau County Legislators know you support the referendum

Local business owners and Labor unions had an impromptu press conference today to urge the community to vote “Yes” for a new Arena in Nassau County on August 1st.  A rally was set for tomorrow, May 24th to urge the Legislators for a new building for the Islanders and Long Island.

The rally itself will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, prior to the public meeting.  The organizers have called for everyone to meet at the statue of Theodore Roosevelt. 

The Legislative Building is located at 1550 Franklin Ave., on the corner of Old Country Road.


http://islanders.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=562734&navid=DL|NYI|home


 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Islander News

Katie Strang has reported that Al Montoya had surgery last week for a torn meniscus suffered at the WCs.  He is expected to be ready for Isles training camp in September.


“Islander” Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is also expected to be at  training camp in September.  Nabaokov had a poor showing at the WC, but his salary of $570,000 may get a few contenders with weak goal prospects to take notice.  Maybe for a draft pick or part of a trade to upgrade the team? 


2007 3rd round pick, Jason Gregoire has decided to turn pro for next season.  He will not return for his final year at the University of North Dakota.  According to Brian Compton, he had 25 goals in 35 games this season for North Dakota.

 
KoC mentioned on Chris Botta's NYI Point Blank!
 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sad news to report


Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers was found dead today in his home.  He was 28 years old.  Our thoughts go out to his family.

Gremlin grabbed for 5!


                                                                 Not this Gremlin!


The New York Islanders have signed Michael Grabner to a 5-year contract that will hopefully usher in a new era for the team and their new arena that many hope will be approved on an August 1st vote by the people of Nassau county.  Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com reports deal pays Grabner $1 M next season; $2 M in 12-13; $3 M in 13-14; $4 M in 14-15 and $5 Million in 15-16.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hope

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced an "Economic Development and Job Creation Plan to build a world-class sports-entertainment destination center" as the recurring chants of “Build it now” could be heard from the storied halls of the once proud Colisieum.

County Executive Mangano called the current slated project, that would mean a state of the art arena, minor league ballfield and “Hub” for Nassau County, “the real deal.” The 400 million dollar project would mean thousands of temporary and permanent jobs for the economically-challenged Nassau County. Mangano would establish a countywide public referendum on August 1st, and if embraced, would start construction of the new sports destination in 2012. The arena to be open on or before the 2015 lease the Islanders have with the county is up.

Mangano explained, that the 400 million dollar expense would be repaid by a revenue sharing agreement between the county and operators of the venue. So, Charles Wang would pay for the $350 million dollar arena and the remaining $50 million would be repaid by the owner of the baseball field and additional projects that are built. Credit Dee Karl for the question of how the funds would be appropriated and who would really be paying for the Colisieum after all is said and done.

The casino, which was previously discussed, is now said to be in the planning stages. If an agreement is reached with the Shennicock nation, it will be built at the Belmont Park facility. Sales tax and revenue generated by the facility, Mangano said, would far exceed the cost put forth to build it. “The intention and plan is for this to not cost the taxpayers a dime.” He went on to say that he called on the “residents to invest in their county.”

While Supervisor Kate Murray was welcomed to a chorus of expected boos, Mangano spoke on her behalf, giving her credit for assisting in the negotiation of the new project and called her a supporter. “I’m an Islanders fan, not a Ranger fan,” she said. She added that the town was “flexible” when it came to the project and that zoning could be worked out for the current billet and that of the remaining 77 acres of the Coliseum property.

Charles Wang emerged to a well deserved cheer. He spoke of a partnership of the Islanders and Nassau County that would last until 2045 and commented on his vision of building a premiere destination for Long Island. He also added that there is no reason for the Islanders or Long Island to take a back seat to anyone else. When asked about the Light House Project, he quickly deflected and put the focus back onto the current project.

In addition, he reiterated what this writer has said all along about his commitment and spirit of ownership, “Our commitment to Long Island has never wavered.” He inferred that the new arena might lend “stability” when attracting possible free agents to play there. When asked what the new arena might mean for the Islanders, his answer was "Hope."

Thank you Mr. Wang.


Hub Update ...

Update:

The new proposal would consist of a 30YR loan/bond paid for by Nassau County, amount unknown at this time.

To become a reality, the county legislator would have a vote on the referendum August 1st to be voted on by the county.  Then, the legislature would vote on the project and finally, the New York finance authority (overseeing all of Nassau county’s finances) would oversee the economic data.

All 3 of these things will need to happen.

As an aside, it is being reported by Pix 11 that the casino project is moving to Belmont Park.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The future looks ....

So, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will speak tomorrow at 11am about a Casino -Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - Baseball field -Red Robin (I kid here), co-owned by the Shinnecock tribe. Technically, being able to bypass the Town of Hempstead zoning laws, it seems a convenient strong-arm against Charles Wang and the Islanders to finally, at least officially, lay to rest and pull the plug of the once-proud Lighthouse Project.

It will be interesting to see how the Town of Hempstead will react to the same traffic and eye-sore issues brought up about the Lighthouse when speaking of the new complex casino.  I am also interested to see how Kate Murray responds, and what the public position of the Islanders will be.

I will reserve further comment until I learn more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lightning Sean, the draft and what playing for Long Island really means.

I usually tend to follow, or at least notice ex-Islanders throughout their careers in professional hockey.  I am always eager to see how they are doing in comparison to their time here in New York, especially, what I considered my favorite players or guys that made an impression on me as a fan.

When the Islanders selected Sean Bergenheim 22nd overall in the 2002 draft, I knew the hype was there.  But as Scott Scissons taught me, hype is just that, hype.  I did see flashes of what could make Bergenheim a key player on the Islanders for the future.  He had good hands, scored the occasional big goal, but seemed to come in and out of favor of the coaching staff.  In his second stint with the Isles, he was more of the same and that made him expendable in the off-season.  Some players’ work in the Isles system, and some do not.  After signing with Tampa Bay, his numbers of 14 and 15 for 29 pts in 80 games were on par with what I came to expect with the Islanders, just not what came to be expected of him and the expectations of the organizations.  They wanted him to play the role of impact player.

With 7 and 1 for 8 points in the 2011 playoffs thus far, the Lightning are getting the impact player the Islanders always thought was there.  Maybe it’s his maturity level and maybe it’s the different supporting cast of players in Tampa Bay, but Bergenheim could find himself in talks of a Conn Smythe candidate if he keeps up his magic touch.  He has meshed flawlessly with the upgraded Steve Yzerman run Lightning under coach Guy Boucher.

With the additions made to the Lightning from the Islander stockyards, all have played a partial to major role in the team’s success.  Dwayne Roloson has shown MVP form that was evident on the Island while last season’s waiver pick up Nate Thompson’s offered grit and tenaciousness that has enabled him to become a major role player with the Lightning when the game is on the line.  Even Marc-Andre Bergeron may rediscover his former power play glory of the past.  One thing is for sure, Tampa Bay is getting noticed.

With the Islanders having the most active roster of draft picks playing in the NHL today, and the stable of supposedly non-marquee free agents that improve on the Island or move on to continue their success, it’s a wonder more players don’t aim for the improving Islanders to take the next step or become a fixture and play in a New York based team’s spotlight.  The team obviously knows what they are doing and the results are starting to show.  They know how to pick talented players and have had recent success drafting or signing those that can fit into the Islander mold.

Party on Garth.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What is a fan?

What is a fan?

A fan is someone who decides to follow and cheer for a team or personality.  A fan is usually loyal by definition and will go to great lengths to show they support their chosen.  On occasion, a fan’s loyalty will be tested by a single or series of dramatic or embarrassing events.  These events can be related to player controversy, ownership struggles or different politics that may affect the chosen franchise.  The Islanders Dynasty from 1979 to 1983 saw the team become an icon in professional hockey.  They were the best of the best and everyone respected the level of talent, leadership and heart, three traits that they personified.  But that was then.

Islander fans were tested in this way. To quote Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders" by Peter Botte, “Kirk Muller balked at being traded to the team; the team's classic logo was replaced with one that was vehemently ridiculed, earning the team the nickname "Fish Sticks"; a slick con artist managed to buy the team with nothing more than his charm; the team failed to make the playoffs seven seasons in a row as miserly owners purged players salaries; Hall of Fame great Bryan Trottier feuded with the team and blocked the retirement of his jersey; embattled general manager "Mad Mike" Milbury couldn't do anything to get himself fired. Yet, having finally hit bottom after enduring countless trials and near-unbelievable tribulations.”

Aside from a rebirth year in 92-93 where coach Al Arbour made things interesting with a great team of surprising youth and tempered veterans who knocked the back to back Pittsburgh Penguins off and when 01-02 came through with a new owner in Charles Wang, Peter Laviolette and a team led by Michael Peca and Alexi Yashin, the Islanders again made a run and showed what could be.  Each time, the fans returned to cheer on their team.

In the 90’s a team led by Mike Milbury seemed to test the loyal fan base of the Islanders, and the team had had some tough times for most of the time since then.  What did I rehash all of this.  I want to truly explain what a fan is.  At least to me.

I am a fan.  I am a fan of the New York Islanders.  I follow them all season long watching each game and monitoring progress and failure.  I pay attention to prospects, drafting, minor league players and keep and ear out for any and all rumors about my team.  My family had to embrace me or find someway of tolerating my madness.  I infected most of them.  My fiancĂ©, who wasn’t a fan until she met me has made me proud.  She is almost as rabid and as passionate as I am about them.  My days, nights and weekends are made or lost with each win or loss.  My mood is influenced by the status of the team.  I have maintained my passion as Islander fan ever since I watched Billy Smith redefine the position of goal.  Since then, I have become a huge goalie fan and scholar.

What is fan?  A true fan.  People like me who have no gains to make by their love and support of the team other than a feeling of pride for what we yearn to see and feel again.  The days of glory relived with new players in the modern age of the NHL.  Thanks to Mr. Wang and Mr. Snow and the support of loyal thousands who endured the mockery, swallowed the punch lines and endured the embarrassments knowing that pride is something that is tempered through failure and heart.  I am a fan who is grateful for the new blood that seems to be coming of age.  I wanted to acknowledge the whole 2010-11 team for what they built.  I am most grateful for players like Tavares, Moulson, Okposo, Grabner, Nielsen, Streit, MacDonald, Hamonic for the skill they bring. I am confident that players like DiPietro, Montoya and Poullin will work at protecting our nets.  I am thankful for players like Konopka, Martin, Haley and Gillies for their demand of respect and the heart they bring each night.

I am encouraged to see what the draft and summer will bring.  I will await the season with the hopes of continuing our progress to respectability and building a winner.  I have faith in ownership, management and coaching.  But most of all, I believe in the Islanders.  Why?

Because I am a fan.