12:35 pm – Losers of seven straight in regulation, the Islanders did what they had to do: call up young and big bodies. They need to make something of this week – win a game or three, lift themselves out of the woe-is-us before the Olympic break, give the fanbase a reason to show up in March.
It’s highly doubtful anyone in Islanders hockey operations is under any illusions about what Jesse Joensuu and Matt Martin are. Joensuu is on pace for 20 goals in the minor leagues this season, just his second as a pro in North America. Martin, who gets to the net, hits and fights – holy crap! – is not being rushed into the lineup so much as being handed a harmless tryout before he returns to Bridgeport during the Olympics. If he plays well enough, he’ll be back.
Garth Snow is not being kept up nights deciding if he should be a buyer or a seller before the March 3 deadline. (The deadline, in the eyes of many general managers, is really this week).
Truth is, Snow was never going to be a buyer, and he doesn’t have much to sell. If the Islanders lose a little more ground in the East this week, Andy Sutton becomes even more available. Point Blank has learned that several contending teams over the last week have inquired about Sutton’s availability in a trade. The big defenseman could be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
With the exception of Sutton and Dwayne Roloson, there isn’t a player over 28 on this roster that a team would give up a high draft pick or decent prospect for. You could combine two or three of them and it wouldn’t matter.
So the Islanders forge on, with home games this week against Nashville (Tuesday), Tampa Bay (Saturday at 2) and Ottawa (Sunday at 5) before the break. There’s also a matchup in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The size and young legs of Martin and Joensuu could help, and certainly won’t hurt.
Snow made the right call. He has several more to make. If bleh, almost 35-year-old defenseman Niclas Wallin and a fifth round pick fetched Carolina a second round pick, Sutton has to be worth more.
Your line and color combinations for today’s 75-minute practice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum:
Blue: Bergenheim – Nielsen – Okposo
White: Moulson – Tavares – Comeau
Gray: Schemp, Hunter, Sim, Joensuu, Martin
Orange: Park, Weight, Tambellini, Jackman (in cage)
Six defensemen, three goalies. As I tweeted (the obvious) yesterday, since the Islanders went to three goaltenders, none of them have played smashingly. This has hardly ever worked out in the history of hockey, so it’s a wonder anyone thought it would this time. Dwayne Roloson’s comment early this season – the more he plays, the better he plays – continues to ring in the ears.
After practice, Scott Gordon showed Doug Weight the respect of deflecting a question about the on-ice ineffectiveness of the captain since he returned from injury. “He’s playing between 12-16 minutes a night. That is not going to change,” said Gordon. “He is playing banged up. If anything it should be an inspiration to the team.” The coach said that if he was ever going to give Weight a night off, he’d discuss it with his captain before the media.
On the team, Gordon’s most telling line: “We’re not making the opposition pay for their mistakes.”
Perhaps to lighten the atmosphere, a ping-pong table was moved into the middle of the Islanders’ lcoker room.
Matt Martin said he “wasn’t really expecting” a call-up by the Islanders, pointing out that he hadn’t scored in 14 straight games. But he continued to work at his game, including “hitting everything.”
Martin agreed with Scott Gordon’s assessment of his improved skating. “I don’t take criticsim of my game lightly,” said the big forward. “I worked hard on my skating.”
Asked which players have served as his mentor in Bridgeport, Martin cited Trevor Gillies. “Trevor has been the biggest influence on me,” said Martin, who added that the 30-year-old enforcer has helped in in every aspect of the game, including fighting. “I hope someday to be as good a fighter as he is,” said Martin.
During the holidays of 2008, the Lighthouse Development Corp. celebrated a year of honest transparency by inviting several reporters and bloggers to Rexcorp Plaza for a little lunch and some Christmas cookies. Have no fear, no inappropriate bribery here – no Pinot Noir and fliet mignon with a side of cash and Springsteen tickets. Just first-class professionalism.
During the final quarter of 2009, most couldn’t even get a courtesy return phone call from the LDC. And this was on the heels of fans giving up work days to show up in large numbers to support the Lighthouse Project at Town meetings and zoning hearings.
Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead said what they had to say today, and nobody can blame them. They have given Charles Wang an answer. He can decide to live with it, negotiate, take his team to Brooklyn or Queens, or try and sell the Islanders to someone – anyone – and whatever happens, happens.
Wang had a misstep with his awkward and disingenuous TV appearance on MSG Plus 147 on Saturday night, but it’s not too late. History has proven that if you help let fans, mainstream journalists and bloggers understand why you feel strongly about something, they can be a forgiving lot. I would not expect it to be in this space, but Wang and Rechler should start telling their side of the story soon.
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