Isles add George McPhee as special advisor to Garth Snow

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

George McPhee spent last season scouting for the Islanders, and has now been hired as a special advisor to general manager Garth Snow.

The team announced the hire shortly before 11 AM on Wednesday morning as the team prepared for it’s secondNHL: NHL Press Conference preseason game at Barclays Center this season. McPhee was the Washington Capitals general manager for 17 years before he was fired on April 26, 2014.

“George brings a tremendous amount of experience and insight to our front office,” Snow said in a statement. “His ability to evaluate players along with his managerial skills, are an asset that we’re thrilled to add to our Hockey Operations Department.”

News that McPhee had been scouting for the Islanders on a part-time basis was first reported by Sportnet’s Elliot Friedman last December. McPhee was also seen around the Islanders’ practice facility on several occasions last year.

“I’m excited to join such a storied franchise,” McPhee said in a statement.  “The Islanders have a great young team and I’m looking forward to contributing in any way I can to help them get to the next level.”

The specifics of what McPhee’s new role entails are unclear, but it does raise some questions if this changes Doug Weight’s role with the team — he serves as the assistant general manager along with his coaching duties — and what this means for Snow’s long term job security.

The new ownership change after this season puts Jon Ledecky, a former owner of the Washington Capitals, and Scott Malkin in control, which could shorten the leash on everyone from coaches to management if the team struggles. That being said, Snow has proven time and time again that he is more than a capable general manager, but with the team having to think — for the first time in his tenure — with the salary cap in mind McPhee could be an asset that comes in use.


What We Learned: Isles win first preseason game of Barclays era

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders were victorious in their first game at Barclays Center this season, beating the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, on Monday night, while a second group lost to the Flyers by the score of 5-3 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

All eyes were on Brooklyn’s game because a majority of the Isles starters were taking part in that game and it was their first real run-through in their new home. Here are few things we learned from Monday’s game at Barclays Center…

  • Brian Erni talked about it this morning, but it is worth again talking about Kirill Petrov‘s impressive night. The Russian forward made his presence known throughout the night and did not look out of place alongside Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski. It was only one game, but Petrov has looked better and better each day of camp. He had a sluggish start on day one, but if he can keep up strong, consistent efforts, like the one he had on Monday, he could work his way into the opening night roster conversation. barclays isles
  • The ice was a topic of conversation before and after the game. At the end of the day, the ice seemed to pass the first of many tests it will face this season. It did appear to get choppier as the game progressed — something captain John Tavares mentioned after the game. Aside from it being the first game of the season in Brooklyn, the arena hosted a Madonna concert just two days before, which affected the ice quality. Again, the ice got a passing grade, but it will be a part of the narrative for the first few weeks of the regular season as Barclays Center continues to work out the kinks.
  • Some habits die hard for the Islanders. They surrendered a late goal at the end of the second period to end their bid for a preseason shutout, with Taylor Leier scoring for the Flyers to cut the Islanders’ lead to 3-1. New York won the game, so it was not entirely like last season, but it sure did give fans some nightmarish flashbacks.

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Sparky the Dragon’s reign as Islanders mascot is over

Sparky has left the building.

In a Twitter Q&A on Tuesday, Newsday’s Art Staple confirmed that Sparky will not make the transition to Barclays Center (Sept 22).

Sparky originally served as the mascot for both the Islanders and the now-defunct New York Dragons of the arena football upon his introduction 2001. He was one of only two mascots in franchise history.

Though Sparky will no longer serve as the Isles mascot, he will continue to make appearances at various events on Long Island (Sept. 22).

Brian Erni

Well, we got our uniforms, our organist, our PA announcer, and all of our banners. Something was bound to bite the dust, and we now know that the ax has fallen on our beloved dragon. For whatever reason, Sparky was a pretty polarizing figure around the fan base. For those who he was meant to appeal to (read: kids), he seemed to do the trick. Of course, this does save you from trying to explain why the Islanders have a dragon as our mascot when you take your friend to a game. I’m sure that lack of brand continuity is one of the biggest reasons for his dismissal.

So farewell, Sparky. You waved a heck of a flag. RIP, friend. We hardly knew thee.

kirill petrov johnny boychuk goal

Kirill Petrov shines in preseason debut

Kirill Petrov is finally getting his chance at making an NHL roster, and he’s off to a fast start.

Petrov sent a backhander past Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz in the second period that proved to be the eventual game winner in the Islanders’ 3-2 split squad victory in Brooklyn.

Petrov, 25, signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders in July, seven years after the club drafted him in the third round. He scored five goals in 47 games in the KHL last season.

Brian Erni

I was curious to see if Petrov could make an impression, and he certainly did. Art Staple referred to his effort as “stand out” in his Isles notes, as Petrov seemed to relish in the opportunity. He threw his body around and made his presence felt on nearly every shift. It’s fair to say he turned some heads on Monday night.

That said, Petrov’s skill has a ton of hurdles to clear before we can start envisioning him on the ice in Brooklyn 17 days from now. The Isles are stacked at forward, and trying to figure out who would sit on a night Petrov would play is maddening. But if Petrov keeps playing like this, it’s going to be very hard to ignore.


Islanders adjusting to new commute and gameday routine

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

BROOKLYN, N.Y — If you’re on a Brooklyn-bound Long Island Rail Road train and you think that you spy a guy who looks like John Tavares, it may very well be him.

The Islanders kicked off their first day of work at Barclays Center, like so many other Long Islanders, by commuting to work on the train. The team road the rails, along with fellow Long Islanders, to their first morning skate in their new home rink.

NHL: Preseason-New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders

“We took the train in. There was about six of us on there,” Matt Martin said about the team’s trip. “It wasn’t terrible. It’s obviously something we’re going to have to get used to, but not bad by any stretch.

The players weren’t allocated any special car or separation between them and the everyday commuter, Tavares said Monday morning from the Islanders’ new spacious locker room.

“It’s just a change,” the Isles’ captain said. “I think you’ll get used to it. Just like anything, just like we had daily life at the Coliseum. It’s just a matter of getting used to it and understanding what it entails. It’s different and an experience we’ll all enjoy and definitely feel like all Long Islanders now.” To read more of this story, click here