ATTENTION NHL — Nabokov, Visnovsky Show Long Island Ain’t So Bad After All
Kevin Schultz , Islanders Point Blank:
If you thought something improbable happened last March when the Islanders re-signed Evgeni “didn’t want to report” Nabokov to a one-year deal, well, they had a surprise for you on Friday night.
Friday, the Islanders re-signed Lubomir Visnovsky to a two-year deal days prior to the trading deadline. The signing comes after a summer (and lockout) full of speculation about whether Visnovsky would play, or enjoy playing, for the Islanders. While Visnovsky, and sometimes his agent, said all along that ‘it wasn’t the Islanders,’ the Slovak clearly had serious concerns about leaving his family on the other side of the Atlantic.
In the end, it worked out extremely well for team and player. Visnovsky signs on for two more years with a no-move clause that stipulates he can’t be moved unless the Islanders are out of the playoff hunt in 2014-15; likely to keep himself and his family in the same place.
The Islanders have long been spurned by free agents (and yes, unwilling to pay them at times), and been regarded as an overall cruddy destination for anyone in the NHL to end up. The arena isn’t nice there’s no doubt about that, but many times the media takes it a notch or two higher and projects the same dreary viewpoints about all of Long Island.
By signing first Nabokov and now Visnovsky, the Islanders have made it clear to other players around the league that it’s not so bad after all. One of those players made it clear that he didn’t want to be on the team and the other made it clear he had a family to attend to and yet, both were convinced otherwise, re-signed, and will be on the ice for the team in New Jersey Monday night.
It’s not all roses, sure. The owner who doesn’t spend still isn’t spending much more than the cap floor, although he did open up the checkbook for Visnovsky. The arena issue isn’t going away immediately, but in a year or two it will.
In the meantime, Garth Snow and the Islanders handled the Lubomir Visnovsky situation well and allowed him the time necessary to tend to his family. Visnovsky liked Long Island so much he brought his family along for a few years. He’s been an asset on the ice, and now is one off of it; a full-on PR coup for the team without having to say a word.