COLUMBUS 3, ISLANDERS 1Plus: final responses to your column comments

Three days ago the Islanders sent the message that they were okay with any of the other 29 teams in the NHL taking Jon Sim off their hands at no cost via the waiver wire. Tonight, Sim saw time on the Islanders’ power play.

 

Mitch Fritz had two extremely rough shifts (not in a good way) in the first period. He did not play in the second and third periods. Donald Brashear be damned on Tuesday when the Capitals come to Uniondale. Alexander Semin and Mike Green are back in the lineup. If Mike Sillinger’s groin injury is not healed, it would seem foolish to not call up a skating forward from Bridgeport. If you believe in the system, doesn’t the system call for rolling four complete lines?

 

Of course, coaches and a lot of experts will say this game tonight did not hinge on the play of a grinder like Sim and enforcer like Fritz. That would be correct. So let’s say this.

 

The Islanders lost tonight 3-1 to a Columbus team led in part by a 24-save, No. 2 star outing by Steve Mason, a year removed from his breakout performance for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. They also lost because they were primarily out-worked, out-skated and out-played.

 

I texted a highly-respected NHL man, in Columbus for the game tonight, for his take on the Islanders’ three best players tonight. He wrote back:

 

1. Andy Hilbert

2. Andy Joey MacDonald

3. Richard Park

 

His skate problems in the third notwithstanding, Blake Comeau seems to have earned some trust from Scott Gordon – an important development. As for that minus-8, has he had all the answers defensively? No. Comeau is a young player who joined a team in time for its slide and lost 9-2 on Thursday. Could not care less about that plus-minus.

 

In unrelated news, Bridgeport won in Norfork tonight, 6-4. Trevor Smith had a hat trick. Jeff Tambellini scored his first AHL goal of the season.

 

*

On to the conversation from the Comments space about my column of Garth Snow and Scott Gordon firmly in place as GM and coach for a while…

 

A few of you discussed the potential packaging of some of the Islanders’ upcoming second round picks. A pair (or even a trio) of second round picks will not get you a frontline player, unless you also include your top prospect. And even that package would not get you an Ilya Kovalchuk. The only value of those picks as trade bait would be on draft day. Two second-rounders might get you a pick in the middle to late portion of the first round. In July, the Buffalo Sabres traded two second round picks to San Jose for 34-year old defenseman Craig Rivet.

 

Since the day Carolina canned him, more than a few fans have asked about the return of Peter Laviolette. Peter is a good friend. He is an excellent coach. His next NHL head coaching job should arrive next summer. His next NHL head coaching job, and probably the one after that, will not be with the Islanders.

 

Lots of people ask about the Islanders joining the Nets in Brooklyn. Friends, Brooklyn is not even happening for the Nets. It is not an option for the Islanders. You can hold me to that one.

 

This may start a fire, but the love letters about Ted Nolan and Neil Smith fascinate me. Here’s why: in their combined last 20 hockey seasons, they have been hired as coach and GM by one NHL team – the Islanders. In those combined last 20 hockey seasons, they have worked in those jobs for a total of two years and 40 days. For all of the merits of Ted and Neil, there’s something odd about that.

 

As for the complaints from some that they’re tired of hearing about the future, I honestly don’t recall discussion of building and developing from within in ten years. This last era was piece-meal, a little bit of this and that. A couple of decent regular season runs, one memorable playoff series, but it didn’t get it done. It didn’t work.

 

The subject of the Lighthouse Project was brought up. Of course, the long-term – make that also the near-short-term – health of the franchise depends it. I’ve written plenty about the Coliseum deal and will again after the holidays when the politicians do more work than photo-ops in front of Christmas trees and menorrahs. But I will say that while the team waits for news of a shovel hitting the ground (or not) next summer, nothing should alter their focus on a proper rebuilding plan.

 

There was discussion about Neil Smith’s role in the drafting of Kyle Okposo and whether that was the pick he wanted to make. It was Neil’s pick and he was very happy with it. He had only been with the Islanders a few weeks but took a leadership role with the first-round pick. It came down between Okposo and Everett (WHL) center Peter Mueller, who was taken with the next pick by Phoenix and had 22 goals last season and is 5-12-17 in 29 games this season.

 

Some readers think Scott Gordon is going to quit, their theory based on the disgusted, broken and beaten look he had on his face Tuesday night. Friends, his team lost 9-2.

 

Two ex-fans wrote they had given up on the Islanders. They wrote that on a blog called Islanders Point Blank.

 

Shoe wrote that he loved me, but the patience of many fans is “already thin” with Gordon and Snow and he wondered how bad it will be next year. I love you too, Shoe, but I’m not sure what you were expecting when everyone else predicted they had no shot to make the playoffs. I do agree with you that the true measure of “stability” is success. My use of the term was just to define that Snow and Gordon are not going anywhere anytime soon and I’d be shocked if the Islanders make a trade of top prospects or high draft selections for veterans in the near future.

 

Mrlbem wants to know why the Islanders fanbase is hurting while the New York Jets’ is stronger than ever. I’d submit two of many reasons. They play just 16 games a year, and no matter what team you’re talking about in the metropolitan area you simply cannot compare hockey to the National. Football. League.

 

Doug inquired about what I was wearing when I wrote the column – the current Islanders jersey or the throwback. I had to admit, that was pretty hilarious. But since he may be into this sort of thing, I’ll let him know I was wearing jeans from The Gap and a sweater from Eddie Bauer - a similar ensemble to what I was wearing the day before when I criticized Garth Snow for keeping Josh Bailey from Team Canada.

 

(In my entire life I’ve worn an Islanders jersey for a grand total of about two minutes. About a hundred years ago, we were setting up a Tom Kurvers photo shoot for the cover of the old monthly newspaper Islander News. With Kurvball running late, the photographer Bruce Bennett asked me to pose in his jersey so he could capture the sunlight right outside the Coliseum box office. It was the classic jersey, the one the Islanders won during the dynasty, the one the Islanders should wear all the time. That picture may still be somewhere in my mom’s house).

 

 

Greg wrote that the Islanders “have been rebuilding since Denis Potvin retired.” Actually, they haven’t – which may have been the problem.

 

Jon asks, “Why do the Islanders have to be terrible every year”? You’re right, Jon. They don’t. The main theme of my article was about how they can eventually be superb every year.

 

 

Another week, another Rangers shootout victory. Reaction to tonight’s Islanders game and everything else in Comments.