August 2008

Monthly Archive

TSN’s Dreger Says Isles Sundin Darkhorse

Posted by on 28 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: Rumors

I know, I know.

Never, no chance, he will never choose Long Island and it goes against everything we have been told in “The Plan”.

Dreger is credible however and Eklund made mention of this weeks ago. If times were different, say two years ago – I would certainly hope for a shot at Sundin.

Check it out on TSN

5 Things Gordon Needs to Change

Posted by on 26 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: General, Off Season

Scott GordonI am a regular reader of Greg Wyshynski’s blog – Puck Daddy and Greg has been polling various bloggers and media types on 5 things they would change in the NHL. Feeling inspired, I wanted to list 5 things that Scott Gordon needs to change in order to make the Islanders better and/or successful.

Looking back over Ted Nolan’s tenure with the Islanders, some may find it easy to pick apart all his deficiencies. Instead of listing all of the negatives, I will leave them implied in what I feel are areas that Gordon needs to work on in order to help bring the Islanders up from the NHL’s basement in terms of respect and talent.

Who is Scott Gordon exactly?

Going back to last week’s “Grillin’ with Gordon” meet and greet at the Coliseum, Gordon had this to say to some of the various questions asked of him:

“I think it is important that players play the game to win and not to not lose,” said Gordon, when asked by a fan about his coaching philosophy. “It’s important to always stay on the attack and never back on your heels.”

Asked on how he would make the team a contender again:

“Every team has to go into the year thinking that they are going to win the Stanley Cup,” said Gordon. “But there are 29 teams that go in with that thought and don’t get it done, but you have to at least start the year with that being your first goal. You are not going to win every game, but you have to go in thinking that you can. It’s not about the players playing for the coach, it’s about the players playing for each other.”

Scott Gordon in a young coach licking his chops for his chance to prove he can bring his AHL success to the NHL, and he is getting that chance with a team in desperate needs of success in the New York Islanders. He has a history of grooming young players for the NHL and can relate to players on a personal level due to his own path to the NHL. It is this relationship that is key, a coach who has a good player relationship gains the trust and respect of the players – will be able to lead that group of players just about anywhere in any condition, much like a Commanding Officer would be able to do in the military.

Number One

One of the first things Gordon needs to do, is gain the trust of his veteran players. Without the veterans on a coaches side, there is a good chance your entire locker room will be on edge with your decisions. This is a big test for Gordon, because his “veterans” in the AHL have not been just about as old as he is. Guys like Guerin, Sillinger, Witt, Weight and Park will get the team fired up no matter what the night looks like, they will go even further if they believe in the coaches vision.

Number Two

Second on my list to success, Gordon needs to formulate a game plan that plays to the teams strengths and weaknesses. Everyone knows that the Islanders lack the firepower as many of the other teams in the league, especially the division. At the same time, the Islanders cannot continue to sit back and play an all out defensive system for long stretches of the game or even season. Gordon has to utilize players down low, establish passing, look for back door plays and be strong in front of the net. Hopefully, we never see Nolan’s 1-3-1 defensive system again – unless we are in complete shutdown mode.

Number Three

As a former goaltender himself and native New Englander, Gordon needs to reach out to DiPietro and get through to him that it’s great he wants to play in every game, but it’s better for the team and his own health if he plays in fewer games. It’s clear that Nolan did not use the competition between goaltenders to the fullest advantage – and we lost a great goalie in Dubielewicz because of this. The Islanders are a better team when DiPietro is healthy, we need a solid rotational system that Gordon will adhere to.

Number Four

Number four has been a very large pet-peeve of mine over the course of the last 3 seasons. If something is broken, it must be fixed – and quickly. Too many times over the course of the last several seasons has a power play or an even strength play not worked. There was not enough vision, thought or even experimentation attempted (for those on the outside) in this area to change what was not working. Gordon needs to get with his assistants and communicate what is and is not working and build on that. He has already said in some of his interviews that there are teams that pour over tape and shut down areas that teams exploit during games. His coaching style needs to constantly grow and evolve, it shouldn’t remain too much the same as teams will learn how to defeat the system.

Number Five

Number five is likely to be the biggest area that Gordon needs to change. Garth Snow has let his plan be known, there is no question that the Islanders are rebuilding and that he wants our prospects to gain valuable NHL experience. Nolan was hesitant to play the kids in man advantages or dis-advantages, late in the game or even when down too many goals. I think the average ice time for players like Tambellini, Nielsen and Comeau was around 8-9 minutes a game last season. Gordon needs to play the kids in all situations and give them equal ice time. He also needs to get the most out of players such as Tambellini and Bergenheim, groom Okposo and Bailey, and see where other players such as Hillen stand. There have been many teams with a very young roster who have been successful, but they were only successful because the younger players had their chance to play.

Here is a freebie – even though it is technically “Number Six”.

Sign Guy

Scott Gordon needs to win over a fan base that is ready to tear apart the Coliseum sans any heavy construction equipment. While this may still benefit Charles Wang (think of all the demolition savings), it places a new coach in a position it takes other coaches years to reach – in the hot seat. If Gordon does well this season and the fans begin to sense a change in tide – I do not see any reason why he cannot win the trust of fans. One thing is for sure, Scott Gordon is here – and we are certainly about to see what he can do with these New York Islanders.

One Year of Islesblogger!

Posted by on 20 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: General, Site Announcements

Islesblogger's 1 Year Birthday! It was exactly one year ago today, when I decided to try my luck here in the blogosphere and re-submit my application to the Islanders Blog Box. Time certainly does fly when you are having fun!

During the past year I have experienced what seems like a life time of great things and made a ton of what I consider very good friends. The Blog Box has given me an opportunity I never really thought I would have and for that I am genuinely grateful.

If I could pick a favorite moment out of everything over the past year, I do not really think I could. Between doing things like the Open House two weeks ago or even going up to the draft in Ottawa back in June – could anyone? I would just like to take a minute to thank everyone out there who regularly reads the site, links back to my content and mentions my blog – without all of you, this would be pretty pointless. It’s nice to have an audience when you are speaking about something you enjoy! Most importantly, I would like to thank the New York Islanders, for without this opportunity, I would certainly not have the reach I would.

Here are a few stats from the last 365 days!

Posts: 309
Comments: 408
Tags: 529
Unique Visits: 26,166
Total Visits: 73,212
Pages: 728,331
Hits: 1,382,259
Google Page Rank: 4

During the coming months, I really want to continue to focus on doing things nobody else is really doing. I have a bunch of ideas on stories and angles that interest me and that I fee would be an interesting read. It’s becoming more and more important as a blogger to have a close border to that of a journalist, because the content gets diluted and the readers a bit bored. I am also about to invest some serious money in some new camera lenses so I can get some great game shots. I have a bunch of photos I am yet to upload because I have not had the time to sift through them just yet, so look for that shortly.

I am open for suggestions, if anyone has any ideas of what they would like me to chase down – do not hesitate to contact me!

Thanks again for such a great year!

Scott Gordon Named Isles Head Coach!

Posted by on 12 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: News, Off Season, Signings

Scott GordonThis just in, the Islanders have named AHL Coach of the year Scott Gordon as head coach!

Per Greg Logan of Newsday:

It took more than four weeks, but Islanders general manager Garth Snow finally identified the coach he hopes will become a close partner for many seasons to come. Scott Gordon, who was AHL coach of the year last season in Providence, has been named as the replacement for Ted Nolan, Newsday has learned.

Gordon, 45, was chosen following an exhaustive search that began on July 14, when Nolan and the Isles agreed to part company, and included interviews with more than the eight candidates who were known to be on Snow’s list of possibilities. The key consideration in finding a new coach was his commitment to the program outlined by Snow to rebuild the franchise through the draft and development of young prospects.

“For me, the bottom line was finding the right coach for our organization at this time,” Snow said of the coach search. “It was a rigorous interview process, extremely thorough. I don’t want any perception the other candidates weren’t qualified or weren’t good people because they were. I just found the candidate that’s the right coach for our organization. Scott Gordon really stood out.”

Gordon, who agreed this evening to a multi-year contract, was the only coach on the list of eight known candidates without any experience behind an NHL bench. In a sense, he’ll have to grow along with the players and Snow, who is set to begin his third season as GM. Like Snow, who played college hockey at Maine, Gordon is a goaltender from New England. The Easton, Mass. native, who played at Boston College, was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.

There are a great deal of fans out there who may very well be angered by taking in a rookie NHL coach, I am also a little nervous about the whole ordeal truth-be-told. The only Islanders coach who came off of AHL coach of the year and went on to be successful was Peter Laviolette – and he did so after the Islanders gave him his walking papers. Steve Stirling was another Islanders coach who won AHL coach of the year honors, but the only thing that poor old Stirling won was a headache and an eventual coaching position in Germany.

Am I blasting this move? Not in the least, because you never know how his style of coaching can turn out in the NHL. Gordon appears to be a great coach and he likely said the right things when interviewed. As Logan points out in his article, the coach has a chance to grow and learn with his young players. What’s important about that is the players will gain the trust of the coach and coach the trust of the players. His next trick, gaining the trust of the fragile Islanders fanbase – can you do it Gordo?

The last bit remains to be seen, but with a record of 55-18-3 last season with Providence Scott Gordon needs to first prove he can translate that success into the NHL.

Thanks to a poster over on Islandermania, there is an article that speaks very highly about Gordon – and even goes on to proclaim he will be a successful NHL coach. Here are a few bits and pieces:

There were questions, however, if Gordon could be a successful head coach in the AHL.

He’s proved his critics wrong and, entering tonight’s game, he carries a 153-116-13-10-15 record with the P-Bruins. Now, it’s unanimous around the hockey world that he could coach at the NHL level. “Absolutely,” was the resounding response from numerous players, coaches and front-office personnel.

“He’s as knowledgeable of a guy in hockey that I know,” said Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jeff Gorton. “He’s prepared and has good communication skills with the players. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t talk to an agent or player who says how much they like playing for Scott. In the NHL, you have to know the game, work hard like Scott does, and you have to be able to relate to the players. He’s able to do all that.”

“He’s done a good job developing players and winning at the same time,” said Gorton. “He’s done a real good job of that. He’s kind of gone under the radar a little bit, but people are starting to realize how good of a coach he really is.

It will take some time to know if Snow has hit a home run with Gordon, but the more and more I read about him – the more I like.

As far as the status of assistants Gerard Gallant, John Chabot and Dan Lacroix – at this point they all appear to be staying on as of right now. If anything, news trickling out of the press during Nolan’s dismissal claimed he wouldn’t listen to his assistants when it came to changing his game plan, so maybe Gordon gives them a shot and if he feels he needs to find replacements does so next season? Lots of stories to watch out of this latest development.

Update: Seems they will be retained – per an update on Logan’s Newsday story:

Asked to describe Gordon’s coaching style, Snow said, “System-wise, he’s adamant about playing a tight defensive system. He’s going to make a difference, starting with our defensive zone. The neutral-zone forecheck will be different, too. It’s going to be a great fit for our players.”

Current Islanders assistant coaches Gallant, John Chabot and Dan Lacroix all are expected to be retained.

Open House Video on iTV!

Posted by on 11 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: News, Off Season

As I mentioned yesterday, I was told that the videos from Saturday that had not been posted would be up on the Islanders site sometime on Monday (today). I am watching them as I post this, so check it out!

Update: It appears Puck Daddy (Greg Wyshynski) has picked up on the Favre jersey prank and even went as far as to speak about Tom, Blair and I speaking to Weight and Bailey. Thanks for the link Greg!

Update #2: The boys over at The Final Score also linked over here and discussed adding my blog to the blog roll. It was only fair that I would add them (I had actually forgotten to add them a while back – MY BAD!).

Open House Thoughts and Photos

Posted by on 09 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: News, Off Season

If I could sum up the afternoon today in one word, it would have to be FUN. The Islanders have set up these open houses so that everyone involved has an enjoyable experience, from what I could tell those in attendance certainly did. While I am too old to take part in the activities for the kids (BD and I thought we should have had a battle royale in the bounce castle), we had fun in other ways and got to chat with our media friends and those inside the organization.

For a recap, photos and video interviews on Islanders TV check out the Islanders site – it even features an interview with both Tom and I. You can also check out my photos, in my gallery.

Things got started off today with a phone call to Dee Karl (aka 7thwoman) to see where she was in the arena – we met up and waited for Tom Liodice of The Tiger Track. Following on the heels of Tom were B.D. Gallof of Hockeybuzz and his wife. With our little group complete we all caught up and started to discuss the game plan. Tom and I were selected for the 3 person panel asking questions to Weight and Bailey so we told them our questions and the divided up in search of where to go. While waiting for Corey Witt, a fan (apparently of both of our blogs too) came up to us and asked if we were the bloggers and had a nice discussion on the-yet-to-be-named coach. Garth Snow spotted Tom and I and came over to say hello (Yes, the GM knows us by face and name which was pretty cool).

Josh Bailey with Favre jersey

Guerin and Weight embrace

Corey found us, and informed Tom, myself and Blair MacGregor (Son of Scissons on Islanders Mania) what the plan was – and gave us our questions printed out in the order we were to ask each player. He told us where to wait and that Radio Announcer Chris King would introduce us and we were to walk out on stage. This is when the nerves began for me, especially given the fact that the players were yet to be introduced by Bill Guerin. Guerin introduced Josh Bailey first, but naturally they couldn’t let the young player onto the team without a bit of hazing – so they handed him a number 4 Brett Favre Islanders jersey (much to the enjoyment of the crowd being Favre was less than a mile away at Hofstra). He then presented Bailey with his jersey and introduced him to the crowd. Doug Weight was introduced second, Weight (as we found out is extremely funny and will be a handful this season) engaged Guerin in a mock embrace and the captain put his head on his shoulder. He explained that Weight has worn the number 39 for almost his entire career, but “some other guy” on the team currently wears that number and handed him a number 93 jersey. The pair of players sat down and it was our turn to be called up.

Doug Weight with jersey

There have not been may times where I had to walk out on a stage and speak in front of an audience. I could feel the sweat begin to bead and panic rush all over my body. I was freaked out, but decided to man up and deal with it. Tom was introduced first, noting the trip to Ottawa followed by me with the same note on the NHL Draft and then Blair.

Once seated, I looked around and actually had to find a place to look other than out at the crowd so I decided to look at the players while they were talking or the floor. Once things rolled on, it became easier as I was ignoring the fact that people actually watching this unfold. After an explanation by King we started with our questions. The following list is the order in which they were asked:

Round 1

Tom Liodice to Doug Weight: What are some of the factors that brought you to sign here on Long Island?

Michael Schuerlein to Josh Bailey: We were able to take a peak into the future during prospect camp, how did it feel to be playing on a line with Okposo – a potential NHL linemate?

Blair MacGregor to Doug Weight: If you were able to take Gary Bettman’s place as Commissioner of the NHL for one day, what’s the one thing in the league you would most like to change?

Round 2

Tom Liodice to Josh Bailey: What do you think of the team’s dedication to go with more of a youth-oriented base, their dedication to build though their farm system/draft and do you think that will help accelerate your chances of earning a shot at the NHL sooner, rather than later?

Michael Schuerlein to Doug Weight: Recent history has shown you to have a shoulder injury, has it healed or been repaired and will you be ready for camp in September?

Blair MacGregor to Josh Bailey: What is the most important off-ice attribute you feel you can learn from the veterans like Weight/Guerin/Sillinger, ect?

Round 3

Tom Liodice to Doug Weight: What do you know about some of the younger Islanders in the organization and which ones are you looking forward to playing with this season?

Michael Schuerlein to Josh Bailey: There is a lot of focus on veteran leadership and how it influences younger players, what are some of the areas you wish to improve on and gain knowledge from the vets?

Blair MacGregor to Doug Weight: What was the Islander-Ranger rivalry like for you when you first started your career and how different do you think it’ll be now that you’re on the other side?

Unfortunately, because I was on stage I couldn’t really record the answers, but I can tell you it will be on Islanders TV and I will post the video once available. The answers from Weight in particular, are a must hear because he is a character. Not taking anything away from Bailey, he did a great job too and was very honest in his answering. He seemed to take this whole transition into a professional athlete with grace and poise and the maturity just oozes out of this kid.

After the questions from the panel, there were a few questions asked by members of the audience and the event was wrapped up. On the way to find Dee and BD, Tom and I ran into Brad Kurtzberg of Inside Hockey (whom we have come to know during the last year) and then Chris Dey so we caught up a bit with them both. Afterwards, we found Dee and she was speaking with new Director of Communications Seth Sylvan. We all introduced ourselves and he was very outgoing and knowledgeable, and most importantly supportive of the Blog Box.

Looking back at it all, it was a great day and I had a really good time. Despite my initial discomfort with being up on stage, it was good to get the first time out of the way – hopefully it won’t be the last.

Islesblogger to Talk with Weight and Bailey!

Posted by on 07 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: News, Off Season, Site Announcements

As you may have already read on the Islanders website, there is another open house this Saturday morning at Nassau Coliseum from 10am to 12pm. The events are usually organized well and offer many things to do and see. This Saturday, the Islanders are going above and beyond and will be introducing two of the newest New York Islanders in Doug Weight and Josh Bailey for the first time.

Per the Islanders website (excerpt):

Doug Weight Josh Bailey

The Islanders and the Islanders Community Events (I.C.E) Tour will open the doors to the Nassau Coliseum this Saturday morning, August 9th, and fans will be introduced to Doug Weight and Josh Bailey — two of the newest members of the Islanders family. Weight joined the Islanders in July after spending last season in Anaheim, where he had 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points in 67 games. He needs 31 points to reach the magical 1,000 point plateau in his career. Bailey was the Islanders 1st round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft after posting 96 points in 67 games last season for Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.

As part of the Re/Max Open House, Doug and Josh will field questions from a select three-person panel. The panel will consist of members from Islander Mania and the NYI Blog Box. Weight and Bailey will also take questions from fans in the crowd. This portion of the open house is available to all fans in attendance.

As luck would have it, I was asked by the Islanders during the week if I would like to take part in the three-person panel asking the questions. Of course, I jumped at the chance!

There are a few things that I want to ask, but I wanted to take this opportunity to open things up to you guys – the whole reason why I am even blogging in the first place, a chance to get their question out there. I am limited in my questions to each player (time constraints), but fire away in either the comment section, or the contact form and I will give each question consideration.

The other two individuals asking the questions are fellow Blog Box member Tom Liodice of The Tiger Track and Islandermania message board member Son of Scissons.

It should be a fun filled Saturday for sure, so check back in the afternoon for photos of the event.

As always, there will be plenty to do for the kids, as the Islanders RV, inflatables and other interactive games will be set up for them to enjoy. The Islanders will also be giving away free Islanders street hockey sticks to all kids in attendance – so get there early. Doors open at 10:00 AM and fans should enter through the Coliseum’s Box Office on the Marriott side of the building.

See you there!

Islanders 08/09 Schedule for Mobile Devices!

Posted by on 07 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: Mobile, News

Islanders Schedule on my iPhoneEveryone may or may not remember that I created an excel document so you can import the teams schedule into your outlook and mobile calenders last season. For whatever reason the team did not do so last year, so I did one to fill the void. Thankfully, the team has released the mobile calender this season and saved me SOME effort (I had already started creating one).

You can can either download the file on the Islanders website, or in the instructions below!

Directions

On the Islanders site, they want you to follow these simple steps:

  1. Save this file to desktop (or another location)
  2. In Outlook, open the Calendar
  3. Select File Menu
  4. Select “Import and Export”
  5. Select “Import from another file or program”
  6. Select “Comma Separated Values (Windows)”
  7. Select the file from where you saved it
  8. Select which folder to import to (most likely “Calendar”)

After following these directions exactly, my calendar would not import into outlook so here is what I did to fix the problem. Either re-download the csv file, or rename it. Make sure the extension is in all CAPS and reads “NYISchedule0809.CSV” (no quotes).

Once I did this and re-imported I had no problems importing.

One thing that the team plans to do, is update the calendar throughout the season – but given the problem that I had and a duplicate entry problem that Murph brings up in the comments section, I don’t know if that is such a novel idea.

One other thing that Murph mentions, if you do not use Outlook as your default calander and use iCalendar or Google’s calendar check out Yahoo’s Islanders Calendar!

For those of you out there with an iPhone and whom use Outlook and Mobile Me with PUSH data – I can verify that this works with that setup. I made sure Mobile Me had a fresh Sync and within seconds my calendar was on my device.