Denis Potvin doesn’t, but losing your job this way certainly sucks.
The legendary Islanders defenseman was told yesterday by the Florida Panthers that his services as color commentator on their television broadcasts were no longer needed. Potvin was with the Panthers for 16 years, since their first season in the NHL. Reasons given by the franchise were economics, wanting to put Bill Lindsay into the position and their desire to have Potvin live year-round in Florida so he could do appearances for the team.
Denis has yet to return a voicemail I left him this morning. I’m told he’s likely out fishing, trying to clear his head.
To be clear, Denis Potvin is not going to become the Islanders’ television analyst on MSG Network. Billy Jaffe has the job and is one of the best in the league. As I’m certain both Howie Rose and Jiggs McDonald will attest, there are few if any commentators more dialed in to the league, its players and the current state of the game than Jaffe. There are none who know more about the Islanders or are as passionate about the team. Despite Denny’s iconic connection to the franchise, side-by-side viewings of Jaffe’s work and Potvin’s work in the booth would illustrate that MSG and the Islanders have the best person in the position. Should Jaffe ever depart, four-time Cup winner Butch Goring – outstanding in the studio – seems to be next in line.
That said, strong families are there when one of its members takes a hit. Denis Potvin, like millions in this economic climate, got his heart ripped out yesterday. Denis is right at the top of this family’s tree.
Perhaps they have already reached out. Denis has homes in Ottawa and Florida and, I don’t believe, is yearning to move his family to New York. But just as the Islanders have found a home for Bryan Trottier (player development, time split between here, the road and his home in Pittsburgh) and Mike Bossy (corporate development, here and Quebec), there could be a role for the captain of the Islanders dynasty. He has a close connection to the team’s current management, made even stronger when he took part in meetings and attended the events for the 25th anniversary of the dynasty.
Most obviously, Denis can teach. For all of his remarkable skills, it is said that his greatness came from his ability to read the game like no other defenseman of his era. Around his schedule, in a situation the Islanders are comfortable with, Denis Potvin could show Aaron Ness, Jack Hillen, Travis Hamonic, Bruno Gervais (in two languages) and the rest of the organization’s defensemen a thing or 5.