Chatting with Calvin de Haan

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

23-year-old defenseman Calvin de Haan will play an intricate role on the Islanders defense this season. He appeared in 51 games last season for the Isles and recorded 16 points (three goals, 13 assists). de Haan will likely make the roster out of training camp. Islanders Point Blank chatted with the young defenseman about the upcoming season.

IPB: What were you working on this summer?


de Haan: Just everything. Strength, speed, you know everything that can make you a better hockey player and better on the ice.

IPB: Coming into this season how much pressure do you feel on yourself knowing you’re going to be one of the leaders on the defensive side on this team?

de Haan: I don’t think there’s any pressure. You know, I just gotta play the way I play and I can’t really change anything. I just gotta do what I do best. You know defend hard and move pucks. You know keep it simple and do the right things on the ice.

IPB: It seemed like as the season went along things defensively got better. What was it that made you guys better and how do you translate that to this season?

de Haan: I think we had a younger group, per say, back there and I think everyone just got a little more accustomed to the NHL game. Definitely takes time. I know for myself I struggled for my first few weeks, but once you learn to play the game and learn how to just keep things simple really. Less is more usually in the NHL and it seems like that’s a good plan for success. I think we just gotta keep doing that going into this season, for sure.

IPB: Obviously it helps that everyone has gotten that time and experience to get accustomed.

de Haan: Of course. Every little bit of experience helps and it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or if you’re 40. The experience definitely helps.

IPB: The team added some forwards and goaltenders this summer. Does that feel like a vote of confidence in the defense knowing that you guys are relatively untouched?

de Haan: I’d like to think so, I guess. You know obviously the management, the coaching staff thought we did some good things out there and didn’t necessarily have to change things. But at the end of the day that’s up to the management and coaching staff to make that decision.

IPB: How much confidence do you have knowing you have a guy like Chad Johnson backing up Jaroslov Halak in net – not to knock anyone in net from last year?

de Haan: Yeah they’ve established themselves now. You know it’s good. It’s hard to kind of explain that. Everyone just has to do their job back there and that’s gonna help us win games.

IPB: But I mean for a defenseman is there more of a comfortability knowing you have someone back there that can bail you out of mistakes?

de Haan: Well there’s no knock against our goaltending last year. It’s just there was bad luck, but we gave up a few leads and stuff. Hopefully that changes this season and hopefully we start getting some bounces.

IPB: Knowing that this is the last year at the Coliseum, how much pressure do you feel to make sure the building goes out with a bang?

de Haan: There’s probably a little bit, but we gotta put that aside and just win hockey games. And play hockey. Doesn’t matter where we’re playing. every win is 200 feet long and we just have to focus on that.

Islanders Point Blank Podcast: NBC’s Ed Olczyk calls in’s Brian Compton and Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank dive into the Twitter mailbag to answer the biggest questions on the minds of Isles’ fans. Plus, Brian chats with NBC’s Ed Olczyk to preview the Central Division.

For the show rundown, click here...

  • Twitter questions
    • Pulock or Pokka?
    • Grabs or Bails?
    • Ryan Strome
    • Griffin Reinhart
  • Ed Olczyk previews the Central Division (12:00)
  • More Islanders’ ownership news (27:15)
  • What to expect entering training camp…

Wild co-owner may sell stake in team, invest in Isles

A Minnesota Wild co-owner may be looking to sell his stake in the team in favor of purchasing a stake of the New York Islanders (New York Post, Sept. 15).

Phil Falcone is rumored to be thinking about selling his minority stake in the Wild to team up with the group who will become the Isles owners in two years.

Charles Wang has agreed to a deal to sell a majority interest in the Islanders. The deal is to sell the team to Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, who will be minority owners for two years, after which they will assume majority control over the organization, the Islanders announced.

“Ledecky’s group is buying only a 10 percent stake in the Islanders, and will need to line up additional funding or investors to buy out Wang, according to sources,” the Post said.

Nassau Coliseum Memories: Kyle Okposo

Throughout the season Islanders Point Blank will speak with fans, players and media about their favorite memories at Nassau Coliseum…

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The next person involved with the Nassau Coliseum Memories series really needs no introduction. Kyle Okposo made his NHL debut on March 18, 2008 and has become an intricate part of the Islanders’ core. Last season, Okposo recorded 27 goals and and 42 assists for 69 points while playing on the wing of John Tavares. Okposo was also a candidate to make the 2014 US Olympic hockey team.

Okposo took some time to speak with Islanders Point Blank about some of his favorite memories from the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike.

IPB: What is your favorite memory from Nassau Coliseum?

Okposo: Well, I’ve got a couple; Playing in my first NHL game against Toronto was pretty cool. Pretty special to me, I’ll obviously remember thatokposo for the rest of my life and that playoffs against Pittsburgh. It was such a fun experience and probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey in that building. It was so loud and it was crazy.

IPB: What do you think you’re going to miss most about Nassau Coliseum?

Okposo: Just the atmosphere. It’s so loud and the way that the fans are kind of right on top of you they seem like they can blow the roof off. Those Ranger games are always fun in “The Coli.” It will be similar intensity in Brooklyn, but the Coliseum seems to bring out another level.

IPB: What do you think makes that building so special for Islander fans?

Okposo: They just remember the tradition and the rich history that the Islanders have. With winning the four cups in the eighties and that’s most likely never going to be duplicated again. Those people remember that and the fans do, and that’s what they grew up, a lot of them, watching those teams. So that’s what makes it special.

IPB: Do you have a story or memory from the Coliseum that really sticks out to you?

Okposo: Not really, just walking into the locker room for my first game. Seeing all those guys like Billy Guerin and Mike Comrie and Miro Satan, and Josef Vasicek. Those guys you grow up watching really and have been in the league a long time. It was kind of a wild moment walking into an NHL locker room and preparing to play that first game. It was pretty nerve-racking.

Islanders Point Blank Podcast: The truth about the Charles Wang sale’s Brian Compton and Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank dissect the Charles Wang sale, and discuss the informal skate taking place this week on Long Island. Plus, Brian chats with Canucks’ correspondent Kevin Woodley to break down the Pacific in our first installment of Division Previews.

For the show rundown, click here...

  • Informal Skate at Iceworks
  • Pacific Division Preview with’s Kevin Woodley (5:25)
  • Wang sells minority share to Ledecky, Malkin (19:05)
  • Playing at and traveling to Barclays Center

Isles know expectations heading into training camp

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Syosset, N.Y. — It’s no secret that Islander fans are hoping to send the Nassau Coliseum off with a bang.

The Islanders are also looking to put the woes of last season behind them. The Islanders were thought to be moving in the right direction going into last DSCF5227season after an appearance in the playoffs the year before, but they spiraled to a bottom five finish. The players know that a rough year the prior season and the expectations for them to properly end their tenure at the Coliseum means they have to produce.

“I think there’s pressure and high expectation for us to be competitive and obviously make the playoffs,” captain John Tavares said Wednesday. “I think it’s no secrete for us, and I do think we take it upon ourselves to finish the season the right way at the Coliseum. It’s a lot of history there. The team grew up there, been there for as long as they’ve been around. So, it’s a big connection for a lot of people and we know that’s going to change a lot next year.

“For sure it’s an important year and we had a very poor year at home last year, so it’s something we need to rebound on and have to be good at to be a competitive team. And make the playoffs.”

The Islanders will have a healthy John Tavares on the roster again. During his media tour at the NHL offices, Tavares said he was all set for the 2014-15 season. It was something he reiterated to reporters after Wednesday’s informal skate on Long Island.

“I would have been playing in the first week of the playoffs and I was feeling really good” he said.

Tavares isn’t the only one who recognizes the pressure the Islanders face this upcoming season.

Frans Nielsen also understands the team cannot have another disappointing season like they had last year. Nielsen had a career year in 2013-14 scoring 25 goals and recording 33 assists, but he knows that his squad collectively needs to be better.

“I think we’re all really, really disappointed about last year and I think we know we can be better,” Nielsen explained. “I think just talking to the guys over the summer I think everybody is really excited. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves right now. We know that Garth [Snow] and the management did their job this summer, so now we gotta go out there and deliver.”

The pressure will be on once training camp opens Sept. 19. With all the new additions during the offseason and younger players pushing for roster spots, the Islanders are situated to have a competitive camp this year.

Nielsen believes that it is a good thing for camp to be competitive, but also believes that the competitiveness will extend into the season.

“[It] makes sure everybody shows up everyday and competes,” he said. “I don’t even think it’s just in camp for spots it’s like all year. There’s going to be so many good players on this roster here. There’s going to be a lot of good players down in Bridgeport and if you have a tough stretch they’re going to make trades right away.

So it’s not just camp that’s going to be a lot of competition, it’s going to be all year with all the forwards we got now.”

Nielsen recalls first NHL goal on new teammate Halak

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

It’s a pretty safe bet that any NHLer will remember their first career goal in the league.

nielsenFor Frans Nielsen, that moment came on February 24, 2007 against the Montreal Canadiens. Nielsen scored 10:21 into the second period to put the Islanders ahead 3-1.

“I think I lost the face-off and Richard Park won it back,” Nielsen said while describing the goal. “He saw me I was wide open in front of the net. Something  you’ll never forget.”

So why is this all relevant today, you might ask?

Well, the goaltender in net for the Habs that night was none other than new Islanders’ net minder Jaroslav Halak. Ironically, both players had been recent call ups at the time by their respective teams — Nielsen being called up on January 5 and Halak making his NHL debut on February 18.  The Danish winger is very aware that his new teammate was also part of a career milestone for him, but it isn’t something that has come up yet in conversation.

“It’s definitely a goal you always remember,” Nielsen said. “No, I haven’t talked to him that much yet. I’ll probably let him know at some point.”

For the record, Nielsen did have goal prior to the one on Halak. However, that goal came in the shootout during a February 22 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it did not count on his stat line.

The more you know.

MSG Network to broadcast Barclays Center preseason game

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders television home, MSG Network, will carry the team’s September 26 exhibition contest against the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center, the network announced Wednesday. The Islanders will face the Devils at Barclays at 7:30 p.m.

BwT9q3kCIAAOrdJ.jpg-largeThe game is the second NHL contest held at the Brooklyn venue, which will be the Islanders new home after this season. Chris King and Butch Goring will be the broadcast team for the night. King will return to the television booth for the first time since a short stint last season filling in for Howie Rose.

It will be the first time fans will see how a hockey game will look on TV from the Barclays Center. The arena received mixed reviews from fans after the initial preseason contest there last season, in which the Islanders lost 3-0 to New Jersey. Some fans were unhappy with the view from different sections of the arena while others did not like that the scoreboard was off-center.

In addition, the Islanders announced that the September 24 preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes and the October 3 contest versus the Boston Bruins in Bridgeport, Connecticut will be streamed on the team’s website.

Meet the Metropolitan Division: Philadelphia Flyers


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

From the nation’s capital to the city of brotherly love, we’ll take a look at the 2014-15 Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers finished the the 2013-14 regular season with a 42-30-10 record. It was good enough for third in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia’s run in the post season was a short one however, as they lost in the first round to the New York Rangers.

Following the season the Flyers made some adjustments int he front office. Philadelphia named Paul Holmgren the new team president and Ron Hextall was installed as the team’s general manager. Changes to the Flyers roster were minimal in the offseason because of cap space restrictions. The Flyers added forward R.J. Umberger, via a trade, as well as defenseman Nick Schultz and Michael Del Zatto through free agency.

The biggest names departing Philadelphia are forwards Scott Hartnell, who was traded by the Flyers on June 23, and Steve Downie, who left via free agency.

To read more of this story, click here