10:05 pm, The NVMC – Barring the Islanders getting completely blown away with an offer they can’t refuse, Sean Bergenheim will remain with the team past the March 4 trade deadline.
A league source told Point Blank tonight that the Islanders are not seriously listening to offers for their former first round pick, who scored a first period goal tonight. Eight days ago, we speculated in this space that Bergenheim and Chris Campoli could be available. Although Campoli has been traded to Ottawa for a first round pick, do not expect the same fate for the scrappy and skilled left wing.
While the Campoli deal has mostly received praise from media and fans, it makes little sense for the Islanders to trade another young home-grown player while in the midst of a rebuild. Campoli, who asked to be traded, is a different case. Bergenheim has been consistent all season with Point Blank in his insistence that he wants to enjoy personal and team success as an Islander. After tonight’s game, he took it a step further.
“I want to make it work here, on Long Island, with the Islanders,” Bergenheim told us after tonight’s 4-0 win over New Jersey. “I really like to live on Long Island and I want to stay here. I consider this my home now. The Islanders drafted me into the NHL and I have never forgotten that and never will. It’s important to me that my NHL career takes the next step as an Islander.”
Could the Islanders’ knees be buckled by an offer of a top prospect and/or a projected top-15 draft choice? Sure, but Bergenheim – a very good young player, no doubt – just has not produced enough to bring back that level of bounty. Expect the 25-year old Bergenheim, who signed a two-year contract last summer, to remain an Islander for all the right reasons.
Which is how he wants it to play out.
“It hasn’t been an easy season, everyone knows that,” he said. “But the last month or so, I’ve started to feel real good about my play and even more so about our team.
“I want to tell you something, though,” Bergenheim continued after thinking for a moment. “We need to find a place on this team for me.”
That didn’t come out from Bergenheim as selfishly as it may read. I asked him, “You mean, like a set place with specific responsibilities, on a set line with regular linemates”?
“It doesn’t have to be as perfect as that,” he said, “but I hope the team and I can continue to find the right role for me.”
What about where he is now, on a second-third line with Frans Nielsen and Trent Hunter?
“Oh, that’s been great,” Bergenheim said. “That’s what I mean, a place for me like that. I really think the three of us have something good together.”
And to top off a good night for Bergenheim and the Islanders, he even played community activist. Besides his pursuit of a set role on the team, he added one more wish.
“I know it’s out of the players’ hands,” he said, “but all of us on the team really want to see the Lighthouse get done.”
It’s like Sean Bergenheim of Finland knew it was Town of Hempstead Night.
The Game: Well, how about that? A hockey team trades two players who didn’t want to be here, and the team plays fast and loose and beats the New Jersey Devils, 4-0. That’s usually the way it works in the NHL around the trade deadline. If the Islanders trade another veteran or two – whether they’d like to stay or not – count on them winning some games you’d wouldn’t expect.
The Lines: Comeau-Bailey-Okposo; Bergenheim-Nielsen-Hunter; Sim-Hilbert-Guerin; Tambellini-McAmmond-Jackman
Official Attendance: 15,174
About That White-Out: Something to remember about the call for fans to wear white, friends: it was created by blogger Nick Classic and a few other die-hard fans. It was not team-sponsored or run by the Lighthouse. The only way you’re going to get 15,000 people wearing white is by running a full-page ad in Newsday and using all the major resources. Without the team support, that wasn’t going to happen. So kudos to Nick and the rest for their efforts behind a project that means so much to them.
Scouts in Attendance: Montreal and Phoenix, plus Jari Kurri and a contingent from the Finnish National team – which could have explained the extra-extra jump in Bergenheim’s step tonight.
Next Up: The Islanders practice Monday and Tuesday before back-to-backs in Pittsburgh (Wednesday) and home to Toronto. A week from tonight they host the Buffalo Sabres.