Bad Luck: The Root Cause of Islanders Injuries

Injuries happen all the time in sports, sometimes they can be attributed to conditioning, others times the playing surface conditions (football is turf, for hockey ice naturally) and still other injuries are just bad luck, accidental or the result of deliberate acts.

For the New York Islanders injury “situation”, I would venture to say that it is the result of bad luck. I know that one of my fellow blogger brethren B.D. Gallof blames it on ice conditions – but I disagree. The ice is bad league wide (as it is early in the season every year), I don’t really beleive that the injuries we have seen this season can be attributed to ice quality and here is why; maybe two out of all the current and recent injuries can POSSIBLY be blamed on the ice. Let’s break down player injuries CSI style -up to this point:

  • Rick DiPietro: Knee surgery following off season knee and hip surgery (and returning too soon).
  • Mike Sillinger: Just returning from hip surgery).
  • Mike Comrie: Out after returning too soon from hip surgery.
  • Andy Sutton: Missed time due to a hand injury requiring surgery.
  • Josh Bailey: Missed time due to a “lower body injury”. It was speculated groin – but could have been anything below the waist.
  • Kyle Okposo: Out with an arm injury – wrist sprain.
  • Nate Thompson: Day to day “banged up”, the latest is “leg-ish”.
  • Radek Martinek: “Glass Man” missed time with a shoulder injury, returned only to go down again.
  • Bruno Gervais: Out with a leg injury.
  • Chris Campoli: Missed the start if the season due to a separated shoulder.
  • Freddy Meyer: Missed time with a sports hernia that required surgery.
  • Brendan Witt: Missed time due to a knee injury.
  • Frans Nielsen: Out with multiple leg injuries.

Now, let’s discuss these injuries in detail.

Brendan WittBrendan Witt suffered his knee injury the result of a knee-on-knee collision October 23rd against the Dallas Stars. Hard to attribute that to ice conditions, no? Not really sure it was a dirty deliberate attack though, we will chalk it up to a normal hockey injury.

Kyle OkposoKyle Okposo injured his wrist. Now this could be blamed on the ice if he fell on it – but I clearly remember the play in which Okie was injured. He collided with a player during the Islanders 2-1 win over the Canucks and grimmaced in pain. This is another injury that “just happens” and has even happened to myself. It’s unfortunate, but I say it’s bad luck – “Thems the breaks!”.

Andy SuttonAndy Sutton injured his hand during a preseason game September 25th against Philadelphia. This injury could have happened in a scuffle or blocking a shot. This isn’t something that happens often and injuries to the phalanges don’t really happen because of bad ice. Sorry, to say – this is another bad luck injury.

Josh BaileyJosh Bailey injured his “lower body” during the preseason. We don’t really know specifics, but we have speculated it was his groin based on what we knew from news reports. This is a possible candidate for ice conditions, but without more information it could also be the result of a young player not prepared for the rigors of the NHL. To me, this is the something more related to conditioning.

Freddy MeyerFreddy Meyer has “Sean Bates” style bad “groins”. This is an injury that could have started at any point in his career and gotten worse over time. Meyer could also just have a different physical makeup that leaves his susceptible to this type of injury. Could it be aggravated by bad ice – yes, but this is something that could be hurt anywhere anytime.

Chris CampoliChris Campoli is another player felled to injury during the preseason. His shoulder was separated by a massive hit that some found questionable during a preseason game against the Bruins on September 23rd. It is another one of those situations that always seems to happen to the Islanders.

Frans NielsenFrans Nielsen was injured in a game against New Jersey that was the result of a high hit by Mike Mottau. As Nielsen went down his skate caught a rut in the ice and rotated awkwardly. Mottau was suspended because of the play, but the injury would not have happened if he was not hit. Sure, the ice was the main culprit – but it was a perfect storm. No hit and you don’t see that leg injury.

Nate ThompsonNate Thompson has been a solid pick up since the Islanders claimed him off waivers from the Bruins. Nate has been banged up as of late, it’s hard not to understand why – he can fight, skate, and play the body. He also spends a ton of time on the penalty kill and blocks shots all over the place. Thompson missed some time with a lower body injury and now it appears he has some sort of leg injury. With his style of play, it is hard to blame whatever his ailments are on anything other than that.

Mike SillingerMike Sillinger hurt his hip sometime during the 2007/2008 season and it required season ending surgery the tail end of 2008. Sillinger rehabilitated his hip and worked on it all summer long, although unfortunately he had a tough time with the recovery and needed injections to help the process. Sillinger returns tonight against the Capitals after a conditioning stint in Bridgeport. At 36 years old, he has had a long career and it is likely that his age caught up with him. Because this injury goes back to last season – there is not enough evidence to really blame this on any other specific cause.

Bruno GervaisBruno Gervais has been one of those up and down players. It seems no matter how many times his game begins to turn around, he suffers a setback and it takes him a while to get back in the groove. Somewhere along the last week, Gervais suffered what is described as a “leg injury”. Knowing Gervais has a history with ankle injuries – I would venture to say this is in that area. Not really seeing a play, this is one of those injuries that could be blamed on the ice – but without proof, could be anything.

Mike ComrieMike Comrie is another one of the Islanders who went down with a hip injury last season. Comrie had his surgery at the same “hip specialist” as DiPietro and Sillinger, yet he is also having issues with recovery. It is my belief that Comrie returned entirely too soon and reinjured himself in the process. This injury falls on the responsibility of the training staff, who may have been persuaded by Comrie to let him jump into action too soon.

Rick DiPietroRick DiPietro is another player I feel rushed back into action way too soon. Undergoing hip surgery towards the end of last season and then knee surgery during the offseason – coming back into action cold without much time for rehabilitation was just plain stupid. Once again, DiPietro likely talked his way back into action instead of doing the right thing and taking as much time as he needed. When you are the “franchise player” who is also signed to a mega deal, you really need to think about your health and well being a bit more. Unfortunately for us Islanders fans – DiPietro is forever known now as being “injury prone”. As if the people mocking the ridiculous contract needed any more reason to mock the team.

So what is the root cause of all of these injuries? BAD LUCK, very very bad luck specifically. Injuries happen all the time in sports, like I mentioned earlier – even moving into tonight’s match up against the Washington Capitals – they are without several players. I don’t think the blame can be placed on any one specific area after looking at the injuries in depth. Could it be the strength and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz, or head trainer Garret Timms? Surely both of these guys have a large stake and responsibility in the health of their players – why do these things (especially hip injuries…) keep happening?

The answers are out there, it’s up to the Islanders to find out what is causing the amount of injuries the last two seasons. I am not gullible enough to chalk it up to coincidence at this point.

Michael Schuerlein


  1. Great points, Mike.

    In the case of Martinek, it is the voodoo that follows him around wherever he goes.

    As for Bailey, Snow said (let it slip?) the other week that Bailey’s injury was a hip flexor. Not that this changes the determination, but it was nice to finally hear it:

    Story link at ESPN.com

  2. Dominik,

    Great find right there.

    I speculated a few times I had thought it was his groin. I feel much better knowing that it was a hip flexor.

    Tom Liodice and I spoke to Bailey at length today for Islanders TV, it should be up in the next few days. He is such a great kid!

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