Okposo, Tavares take part in NHL Media Day


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Islanders captain John Tavares and star Kyle Okposo were two of 34 players to take part in the National Hockey League’s annual media held in Manhattan. The two teammates took part in interviews and promotional photo shoots. As John Tavares told NHL.com, the day is always an indicator that the start of training camp is right around the corner.

“It always signals the season is right around the corner, training camp is coming up, the buildup [to the season] is coming. It’s an exciting time. You always enjoy increasing that buildup with all the media attention we get there [for a] couple days,” he said.

Here are some of the highlights from the duo’s media day trip:

To read more of this story, click here

Meet the Metropolitan Division: Washington Capitals


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

So far, we have previewed the Penguins and Rangers. Now we look towards the nation’s capital and the Washington Capitals.

Despite having the leading goal scorer in the league, the Caps missed the playoffs by three points in the standings. After a year that saw them go 38-30-14 Washington finished ninth in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the Metropolitan Division. It was the first time the Capitals had not qualified for the playoffs since 2007.

It was enough that the Capitals, like the Penguins, released their head coach and general manager. Ownership hired Brian MacLellan as the new general manager and Barry Trots as the new man behind the bench.

In addition to the front office changes, Washington added defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik through free agency. The Capitals also added forwards Chris Connor, Kris Newbury and Tim Kennedy, as well as brought in Justin Peters as a backup goaltender.

Forward Mikhail Grabovski and goaltender Jaroslav Halak left Washington for the Islanders. To read more of this story, click here

Isles skating on Long Island in preparation for training camp


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Training camp opens on September 18 for physicals, but Isles players are already on Long Island skating.

Frans Nielsen, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson, Eric Boulton, John Persson, Lukas Sutter,Thomas Hickey, Matt Carkner, Andrey Pedan and TJ Brennan all skated at Islanders Ice Works on Friday, according to the team. Jaroslav Halak, according to the Islanders website, is also on Long Island and will begin skating on Saturday.

The same group of players skated on Wednesday at Ice Works. Nielsen seemed excited about the upcoming season when talking with Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

“I really like what we did,”Nielsen told the Isles beat writer. “With [Mikhail] Grabovski and [Nikolai] Kulemin, I think we’re going to be a really tough team to match up against because we’ll have so much offensive firepower, so many guys who can step up and do it. I don’t know what our roles are going to be, between me and Grabovski, but I think we’re really similar players.”

Another group says they had a deal to purchase Isles

A third group is now being reported as having a deal to buy the Islanders from Charles Wang, according to reporter Dan Primack (Fortune, Sept. 5).

The deal was to sell  the team to Boston-based Peak Ridge Capital for about $470 million, according to the report.

“The ultimate agreement would have valued the team at $508 million — Peak Ridge originally had offered around $30 million less — with Wang sending Peak Ridge a purchase and sale agreement that in many sections is identical to the one sent to Barroway,” Primack said.

According to the report, Wang told Peak Capital they had a deal on the same day he asked Andrew Barroway, who is now suing Wang for $10 million, for $458 million.

Meet the Metropolitan Division: New York Rangers


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

From the Steel City, we move to the Big Apple.

The rival New York Rangers are coming off their best season since 1994. The Blue Shirts went 45-31-6 — finishing second in the Metropolitan and fifth in the east — reaching the Stanley Cup final in their first year under new head coach Alain Vigneault. They ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

The 2014-15 Rangers will look relatively similar to last years version, minus some small changes. The Rangers were able to sign free agent defenseman Dan Boyle to a two year contract. They were also able to ink Kevin Hayes to a two year, entry-level contract after he declined to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blue Shirts also lost several players.Forwards Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot left via free agency. Forward Derek Dorsett was traded to Vancouver during the draft in Philadelphia and forward Brad Richards was bought out of his contract during the offseason. Defenseman Anton Stralman also left via free agency.

To fill in the gaps left by some of the departures, the Rangers signed forwards Lee Stempniak, Matthew Lombardi, and Tanner Glass. To read more of this story, click here

Nassau Coliseum Memories: Carlos Mendes

Throughout the season Islanders Point Blank will speak with fans, players and media about their favorite memories at Nassau Coliseum…


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

We’ll start this series with Carlos Mendes. In case you weren’t familiar with Mendes, he is a professional soccer player from Mineola. He is the captain of the North American Soccer Leagues’ New York Cosmos, who play their home games right across the street at Shuart Stadium, and he has also played for the MLS’s New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.

Islanders Point Blank sat down with Mendes following a recent Cosmos practice to talk about some of his memories at Nassau Coliseum as an Islander fan.

So you’ve been an Islander fan your whole life?

CM: “I’ve been an Islander fan my whole life. Growing up in Mineola, I’m ten minutes away from the Coliseum. I’m obviously a little bit disappointed to see them go soon, but at the same time I’ll still support the team and we have this year now to enjoy at the Coliseum.”

Who was your favorite player growing up?

Carlos Mendes (right) celebrates a goal.

Carlos Mendes (right) celebrates a goal.

CM: “I used to love Pierre Turgeon and Pat LaFontaine. Those were probably two of my favorite players I remember I loved to watch.”

What is your best memory of being at the Nassau Coliseum as an Islander fan?

CM: “Well, I was young in the ’80s, obviously, when the dynasty was around, but I was around and my parents would bring me to some games. And just the last time they made the playoffs. I got to go watch them against Pittsburgh and it was exciting to see the Coliseum with a great atmosphere again and full. So, that’s fun. I love hockey, I enjoy it and I’ve played it. I definitely always support the Islanders.”

What was the most memorable game you’ve attended?

CM: “That playoff game. They actually lost to Pittsburgh at home, but like I said the atmosphere, being in the playoffs again and watching them play Pitt was probably the most exciting recent game I’ve been to.

Was that game three or game six?

CM: “Both, but game six though. But I went to both games.”

What makes the Coliseum special for you? 

CM: “I think the history. Obviously, [the Islanders] were a dynasty there in the ’80s and it’s really a good atmosphere in there. When it’s full, it’s loud. I mean I think that obviously the Islander fans get excited. So I think just being there, the atmosphere and — even though it’s an older building — it’s still excellent.”

Meet the Metropolitan Division: Pittsburgh Penguins


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Pittsburgh Penguins finished the 2013-14 regular season first in the Metropolitan Division and second in the Eastern Conference (51-24-7, 109 points), but floundered in the playoffs. The Pens had a tough first round victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, but fell to the New York Rangers after taking a 3-1 series lead.

The playoff results were enough for ownership to make sweeping changes in management. The Pens fired general manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma and replaced them with Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston. To read more of this story, click here