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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Al Arbour 1932-2015

On Friday, former Islanders broadcasting lcon Jiggs McDonald posted on Facebook that legendary Islanders coach, Al Arbour had passed away at the age of 82 due to illness after a long battle with Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.  McDonald has been a longtime friend to Mr. Arbour and periodically gave updates of his condition to team fans on social media.

When I read the post, I was beside myself. I know firsthand how this disease devastates families and challenges the person affected to maintain their very self.  It is capable of stripping recognition of family and loved ones or even any and all situational awareness. My struggles with my own father and his battle against the disease made me sympathetic to the Arbour family.  I am all too familiar with the decay of a person that I had always revered as a symbol of strength and protection being stripped of various parts of themselves over time.  All you can do is be there for that person and ease the transition, while taking on all of their challenges upon yourself.  It is exhausting and immensely frustrating, but an important tribute to the loved one who has meant so much to you in your life.

Several colleagues and members of the professional media told of their relationships and experiences with AL Arbour as both a man and the storied coach of your New York Islanders.  The stats speak for themselves and the tales of NHL greats about how Mr. Arbour shaped their careers and spoke of his fatherly guidance as they grew to be men were the most impressive tributes to the legendary NHL coach.

Per, “Arbour was named head coach of the Islanders at the start of the 1973-74 season. He stood behind the Islanders bench for 19 seasons, putting together one of the most illustrious coaching careers in NHL history. Arbour led the Islanders to a total of 15 playoff appearances, won 119 career playoff games which is a NHL record for most with one club, currently sits second all-time in wins and games coached in the NHL (behind Scotty Bowman) and won four straight Stanley Cup Championships (1980-1983), which is a mark no team has met since. Throughout the Islanders domination in the early 1980’s the team put together 19 straight playoff series victories, which still stands as the longest such streak in all of pro sports.” 

Looking back, Bryan Trottier mentioned Al Arbour was suffering from Dementia in an August, 2014 interview on a Buffalo Radio Station.  Mike Bossy had mentioned at an Isles Booster Club meeting that Jiggs McDonald & Eddie Westfall had recently visited Al Arbour in Florida.  Mr. Arbour was progressing in the disease and was suffering more of the effects associated with it.

I will always cherish the memories that the man nicknamed as “Radar” has given me while growing up, watching my Islanders’ heroes create NHL history and define professional excellence.  The Islanders will turn a page in their team's storied history in 2015 by starting a new era at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  They will due so without the greatest chapter in their history after the death of Al Arbour.  

Andy Graziano tweeted that there will be a funeral mass for Al Arbour: Monday 10:30am on Longboat Key - St Mary's of the Sea church.

Al Arbour is survived by his wife, and children Joann, Jay, Julie and Janice.

I will keep the Mr. Arbour and his family in my thoughts.

Isles Notes:

I will look for an important patch to on the jerseys of the New York Islanders that pays tribute to Al Arbour next season.

AHL Notes:

The released the 80th AHL anniversary season and 2015-16 schedule.  The BST open at home on 10/10 vs WBS.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Isles Offer A Few PTOs & Possible New Patch

Today, your New York Islanders offered professional tryout contracts for D, Matt Carkner, F, Eric Boulton, F, Tyler Barnes and G, Parker Milner.

Carkner scored 2 & 1 for 3 points in 19 games as an alternate captain for the Sound Tigers.  News originally broke on 8/11 per the BST on Carkner.  Isles apparently made it official today.

As I mentioned before, Boulton is probably in line for a staff or coaching position at some level in organization. My feeling is that his presence for the BST is most likely a calculated component of this initiave.

Barnes scored 74 pts (34 & 40) in 71 games for the ECHL, Toledo Walleye.

Milner had a .920 SV% & 2.28 gaa with a 24-13-3 record playing for the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.

Last Wednesday, this photo of an Islanders jersey patch surfaced on social media commemorating the teams 1st season in Brooklyn.

To my knowledge it has not been confirmed, but looks very similar to a few previous versions on Isles merchandise seen at the Barclays Center.

Past Version 

Isles Notes:

Islanders top 5 prospects according to

Isles suing arena Management Company over Coliseum sublease.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Isle Be There: Matthew Klimberg & Islanders Fans In Brooklyn

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.

John Infranca & Matthew Klimberg started Islanders Fans In Brooklyn in 2011.  

It is a 330 member Facebook group for Islanders fans who live and work in Brooklyn.  Their mission:  To coordinate Brooklyn “Gamewatches” and schedule group gatherings to help expand the Islanders' local fan base.  While it was never their intention to rally for the team’s eventual relocation, IFIB does hope to help fans make the best of the team’s new start at the Barclays Center. 

After John moved to Boston, Matthew took the reins and pushed hard to make a difference among the Isles faithful on social media. As someone who grew up 10 minutes from the NVMC, he has many memories from his time at the old barn.  Some good, some not so good.  As his friend’s mother began explaining him what the red light behind Vanbiesbrouck’s net was for, it would light up several times to remind them of the lesson.  Like so many fans in their 20’s, Klimberg has watched his favorite team struggle for much of his fandom.  Having favorites like Jason Blake & Josh Bailey, Matthew cheers for the little guy.  The players he feels exemplify a strong work ethic and show a perseverance to never succumb to adversity.

“Much of my 26 years have been spent watching the Isles not make it past the first round,” Matthew said.  “But we are a resilient bunch.  The team is much better now and have grown together. They are a year older, a year stronger.”  He added, “Whether it’s a less than perfect arena situation or any other adversity or obstacle, they are all something the fans can rally behind.”  The pressure felt by the Isles organization is definitely there.  Having the burden of proving the nay-sayers wrong and making it into the second round of the NHL play offs and beyond is certainly the way to accomplish it.  Klimberg feels this year’s team has a great shot at doing just that.

Matthew with his Grand Pa Stanley and long time NVMC usher, Angelo. 

Matthew looks ahead to the 2015-16 season as an opportunity to organize more local outings with other Isles fans.  “The Islanders have assembled some great role-players, along with guys like John Tavares and Nick Leddy, who can not only make the playoffs this year, but do some damage.”  He encourages everyone to check back often with “Islanders Fans In Brooklyn,” for information on “Gamewatches”.

You can do so on their Facebook page or following along on their Twitter account

Join Matthew and the supporters of Islanders Fans In Brooklyn.  

Rally around the team’s new home and cheer on your New York Islanders as they continue their resurgence to once again compete for the Stanley Cup.


Matthew Klimberg is also the NYCFC Beat Reporter for MetroSoccerNation.

Isles Notes:

Check out John Tandlich’s “Brooklyn HockeyDaily.”

Per Arthur Staple, “Isles and UFA D Marek Zidlicky have been discussing a contract past few weeks. Nothing decided on either side, but interest is there. Zidlicky, 38, started last season with Devils and was traded to the Red Wings at the deadline. 6 of 7 goals were on PP last season.”

Per B.D. Gallof, “have $8.6+ million in cap space. Figure Brock 2.75 to 3 million (2.85 my guess) +team wants breathing room. Looking for value at D.”

Per Tony Stabile, “@coreypronman released his 100 NHL Prospects and Top 10 Goaltender Prospects today, Isles had 6 in the Top 100 & 1 in the Goaltender top 10.” 

Prospects like, 13. Barzal 17. Dal Colle 45. Ho-Sang 65. Pulock 66. Beauvillier 79 Vande Sompel made the list.  10, Sorokin and Williams made it for goaltenders while Soderstrom got an honorable mention.

Red Wings sign former Isles prospect Russo. 

Per Mike & Mike, “A dad used melted ice from the Islanders' rink for his daughter’s baptism... the guys agreed it was awesome.”

NHL Notes:

Per Sirius, “We're very happy to announce a multi-year agreement with the @NHL and @SiriusXMNHL.”    

Per TSN, “From @rwesthead: @adidas lands exclusive @NHL jersey deal beginning in 2016-17 season.”

NHLPA donates $500,000 to Canadian university to aid in concussion research.

AHL Notes:

Chicago Wolves add former BST, Scooter Vaughan to the blue line.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Black, White, KP, Cark & Where's Brock?

Arthur Staple confirmed the announcement by your New York Islanders & the Barclays Center that they will unveil a new third jersey sometime next month.  As expected, it will hold to the black & white color scheme associated with the new era teams in Brooklyn and should be met with a lot of … excitement from the fan base.  Stay tuned.

Isles retain 25 yr old goaltending prospect, Kevin Poulin.  Poulin has re-signed on a one-year, two-way deal. Financial terms for his new deal are the same as last year at $600 NHL/$275 AHL.  Poulin had a 2.87 gaa with a .912Sv% in 45 games with Bridgeport in his 5th season as a pro.  This is a good security measure for the Islanders system depth in goal.  While Poulin hasn’t played up to the level the Isles have hoped, he has had flashes of solid goaltending for the Sound Tigers.

Arthur Staple reports there has been no news on talks with 23 yr old, F RFA Brock Nelson (20 & 22 for 42 pts in 82 games last season).  Not sure what is going on between Nelson’s camp and the Islanders organization, but I do know the Islanders don’t allow players to miss the start of camp while holding out for a contract.  As the weeks move on, this may prove to be an interesting story and may only net a 1 year deal that will lead to another interesting scenario next summer.  59 days and counting until camp.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have signed 6’5, 227#, 34 yr old Matt Carkner to a two-year AHL contract.  Carkner was assigned to the Isles AHL affiliate after injury and had 2 & 1 for 3 pts in 19 games with the BST last season.  Arthur Staple reports it is on a player/coaching deal for Carkner to remain in the organization and help shape their prospect pool.

Isles Notes:

Looks like Lubo Visnovsky is still talking to Islanders and other pro (KHL) suitors. @nyifancentral

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Quick on JT, LIRR & NHL's MLBAM Media Deal

Jonathan Quick wrote a two-part series on NHL snipers where he gave an interesting perspective on the top offensive talent in the NHL from the viewpoint of an elite, Stanley Cup winning goaltender.  Both parts are worth the read, but Isles fans should take note of Quick’s observations on Tavares in Part 2.  He said that JT was "insanely balanced & tenacious."  He mentions the ability of Tavares to use his strength to shrug off defenders and mount a dangerous and elusive attack on net in a pretty deke, passing play or dirty goal.  His hockey IQ and off-the-ice regiment is also praised by Quick.  “You have the work he puts in in the weight room in the summertime to have the strength to shrug off defenders and maintain balance after 60-plus minutes of hockey, plus you have the hockey IQ to map out how to get past three defenders.”

The @LIRR is adding increased service to and from Barclays Center for all Isles homegames.  These services will include additional, non-stop trains to help Long Island residents make the trip a little easier.  There was no mention of reduced fares or specials for Isles fans using the LIRR at this time.  I can appreciate the concern that some fans are voicing about a longer trip to attend games.  As a resident of Putnam NY, my trips to the Coliseum could take over 2 hours by car.  But with our team remaining in NY, it is something we can all get used to if we want to see the team live.  Even if it means less visits to the BC for some fans.

And on the subject of 15-16 Isles games, the following 2015-16 match-ups can be seen nationally on @NBCSN @7:30pm: 11/25 vs. PHI 12/2 vs. NYR 2/4 @ WSH 3/8 vs. PIT 3/21 vs. PHI.

The NHL made a major announcement today.

MLBAM announced a “Historic” media deal with the NHL that will launch in January.  Charles Wang’s former provider, NeuLion is slated to assist MLBAM and aid them in the transition to full creative control.  They will create new digital products & platforms in a state-of-the-art production facility. “The partnership will transform the fan experience by creating a fully integrated global hub of digital content that encompasses video, live game streaming, social media, fantasy, apps, along with statistical and analytical content.”  It is also important to remember that although MLBAM will control, "The NHL and its member clubs retain editorial control across all platforms."  Any fears that MLB will control how NHL hockey is depicted shouldn’t be validated by the new agreement.  It is also notable that the product perfected by MLBAM is recognized as the “gold standard in streaming sports” per The Hockey News.  It should be a win for hockey fans everywhere if it’s as good as advertised.

AHL Notes:

New season, new teams, new rules. Read up on the changes coming to the AHL.