IMAGINE THE CROWD IF THEY WERE IN 29TH!Napkin notes on the sellout and less crucial matters



Deciphering my notes on a napkin while enjoying Monday’s game against the Penguins with the kids…


Island Appreciation: I was talking over the weekend to an old pal whose family moved off the Island a few years ago. I mentioned how, with my wife away for the week, I was going to take my three boys to the President’s Day matinee against the Penguins. My buddy became nostalgic.


“That’s one of the things I really miss about the Island,” she said. “You want to go to a game where we live, it’s a long drive and you pay 25 bucks to park a mile away. Even on nights when the Coliseum is packed, we used to leave the house at 6:30 and be in our seats for the National Anthem. The best hockey players in the world, right there in Nassau County. I didn’t realize how great we had it.”


Many Long Islanders do. The Islanders are in last in the league. They have been out of the playoff race since before Hanukkah. And yet, today’s game was sold out – the third matinee capacity crowd of the season. When my gang left the building about 30 minutes after Joey MacDonald’s save on Sidney Crosby, there were still long lines at the merchandise stands.


And yet some big-mouths still question the viability of this market.



Tamby’s Defense-less Goal: My fondness for Jeff Tambellini is well-documented. I know I’m not the only evil, “he’s-out-to-get-us” person in the press box who’d kill to see the kid do well.


But let’s get something straight about Jeff’s brilliant shootout goal against Pittsburgh. As a step in his NHL career, it has as much to do with his development as winning the NBA dunk contest. It is nothing for him to build on, because he has scored in the shootout before. He can score on a jumper from 30 feet out in his sleep. I’m sure Tambellini is thrilled to contribute to a win, but he even knows he has a long way to go in the first 65 minutes of play.



Hillen over Callahan: Contrary to what I saw from a few Comment-ators in the pre-game, I had no problem with the Islanders choosing Jack Hillen to play against the Penguins over Joe Callahan.


Hillen is a prospect of less than one year whom the Islanders must continue to develop, monitor and – since he’s RFA this summer – make decisions on. No offense to Callahan, but this is his sixth year of pro. The Islanders know what he is. Unlike playing Jon Sim over Jeremy Colliton or Trevor Smith, Hillen-over-Callahan is the type of lineup move the Islanders should be making the rest of the way.



Renney’s Benefit of the Doubt: This may not be relevant to the Islanders in your eyes, but it is to my former life as their PR person so this stuff always makes the blog. If you want to know one of the many by-products of answering questions honestly, looking people in the eye and treating everyone with respect, all you have to do is look at Tom Renney.


It may not get him anywhere. It doesn’t even guarantee he’ll be coaching when the Islanders play his Rangers at the Garden on Wednesday. But while the fans are calling for his head because it’s tough to yell about a guy hiding in an executive suite high above the arena, almost everyone in the press and “in the game” is standing up for Tom Renney. As it should be.


Calls to mind what I used to tell the Islanders players when I would encourage them to be forthright and classy with the media: “For the last three years of his career, David Cone basically didn’t get anybody out. Yet he walked off the mound to standing ovations and never got jabbed in the press.”