Knowing Few Faces, Lubomir Visnovsky Arrives on Long Island

Kevin Schultz , Islanders Point Blank:

SYOSSET, NY – “I don’t know [the guys],” defender Lubomir Visnovsky said after his first practice with the New York Islanders today. After missing the first few weeks of the season tending to his son’s illness, Visnovsky made the journey across the Atlantic to suit up for the Islanders earlier this week. He didn’t know anyone on the team, but said he would work on correcting that.

“Everybody comes to me ‘hi I’m Mark, I’m Matt,’ Visnovsky continued. Jokingly he said that “it will be homework tonight for me to go to internet, and look at faces, and focus on the names because that’s very important for the game.”

But even though he didn’t know anyone and was a few weeks late for the season, Visnovsky said that he was welcomed by the team.

“I talk to GM Garth Snow, and coaches, teammates and it was a big surprise to me how good everybody was to me,” he commented.

On Visnovsky’s first day, the Islanders skated for only about 40 minutes; a shortened practice after their 4-1 loss to the Rangers last night.

For a team that has struggled to get scoring from its blueline, with only one goal outside of the offensively inclined Mark Streit, coach Jack Capuano believes that Visnovsky would be a welcome addition.

“It’s good to have him back. He’s been skating and will fit right in. We had him in the powerplay today right away,” Capuano said of Visnovsky’s work at practice today. “He’s another puck moving defenseman that can join the rush. We don’t generate a lot from our blueline right now… To have another puck mover is a big help for us.”

Visnovsky wasn’t paired with anyone specifically, but did spend time working with Mark Streit and the rest of the Islanders’ top power play unit. It’s likely that Visnovsky will be on the ice and a part of that power play line when the Islanders take on the Sabres tomorrow at the Coliseum.

“We’ll discuss it this afternoon,” said Capuano, not confirming if Visnovsky and the returning-from-injury Josh Bailey would be in the lineup Saturday, but it seemed like they would be. Capuano said there was a “good chance” that they would play.

“I hope [I can play tomorrow],” Visnovsky said about his chances of playing on Saturday. “It’s up to coach and I’m ready to play. If he gives me the chance, I will be happy.”

As for Visnovsky’s future plans in the NHL — he’s a free agent after this season — it seems as though he’ll be taking things one step at a time.

“I feel like I’m an NHL player,” he said. “I think about [next year] this off-season… The doctors said my son will be ok. Everything I setup for my family but I’m glad to be in the NHL.”

In interviews with Slovakian media, Visnovsky had expressed interest in playing one more game with HC Slovan, his team in the KHL. If staying in Slovakia was something he wanted to do after this year, he still wouldn’t want to get ahead of his current team.

“No, I don’t know,” Visnovsky responded when asked if he would play in Slovakia next year. “I care just about the NHL right now, this team.”