August 2009

Monthly Archive

A Quick Glimpse Into the Future of John Tavares

Posted by on 27 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: General

Just came across a link on Twitter that has the New York Islanders 2009 first round draft pick John Tavares (and the rest of the top rookies) at an Upper Deck photo shoot. A few of the pictures (and there are a bunch of good ones) show Tavares skating around in full Islanders uniform and equipment. The pictures gave me some chills, not sure what everyone else will get from it though.

John Tavares

Here is another good one:

John Tavares

And one more for good measure:

John Tavares

For more photos, check out the Upper Deck gallery

It’s a slow hockey month here before camps officially open and as summer winds down. At least it seems as if hockey is making it back into the news. Can you feel it? I can.

Easton SE16 Stick Review

Posted by on 19 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Equipment Reviews, General

easton_hockey2 It’s not everyday as a blogger or an avid amateur hockey player that a major equipment manufacturer contacts you and asks if you are interested in testing out the latest and greatest hockey equipment. Naturally, when the opportunity to test out some Easton equipment presented itself, I jumped at the chance.

Allow me to give you some background first. I am your typical beer league player, maybe I should say ATYPICAL because ironically I actually play for a brewery sponsored team here on Long Island (Blue Point Brewery to be exact). I also play roller hockey, so I go through my fair share of composite sticks and other equipment over the course of a season. I have been a pretty big fan of Easton composite sticks for quite some time, I have had at least a half dozen of the SE16 predecessor – The Synergy Elite. My flavor of choice for that model was a 100 Flex, Grip Shaft with a Joe Sakic curve. Ask any hockey player, if you’re a repeat customer of any one particular model of stick, you are either extremely superstitious or you really like the product. Fortunately for me, it is more of the latter. When I found out that Easton had “changed the recipe” and created the SE16 as a replacement, I got a little nervous but figured it would be for the best in the end.

The Easton SE16 was billed to me as the stick that “scored more goals, points and game-winners of any other stick manufacturer” during the 2008-2009 NHL season and post season. Having learned a little bit about the technology behind the stick and now having used it myself, I can totally see why.

When you think of hockey sticks, your mind doesn’t automatically go onto the word – technology. A stick is a stick right? Wrong. I knew that manufacturers spent time and money on research and development, but no where near to the amount of detail that I came to learn. Here is a brief description from Easton’s post season press release, you know as a warm up so to speak:

Introduced in 2008, the SE16 combines the same proven construction of the renowned Synergy Elite line with Easton’s patented, industry-first Focus Weight Technology™ to create a next generation Synergy stick unmatched on the ice.

Easton’s Focus Weight Technology uses a concentrated weight strategically placed in the blade’s impact zone to keep the puck on the blade, and in the shaft to counter-balance the stick and give added control. For the ultimate in power, Easton’s impressive Synergy construction is combined with it’s compression molded process to yield one of the most powerful shots in the game.

My Thoughts

Easton_SE16

Before we dive right into the techno mumbo jumbo, I want to give you my opinion on the stick as the technology explanation ties into what I felt as I used the product.

I took my new SE16 (which by the way is the exact replacement in terms of flex, grip and blade curve for those curious) for a test run just over a week ago during one of our summer league games. I can tell you that I hate using new equipment during a game, it just never feels comfortable unless you get some good practice in to get used to the feel of whatever it is you are using, be it skates, a stick, gloves or even a helmet. This particular day I happened to get out on the ice 15 minutes early and concentrated on taking as many shots as I could, passing back and forth with a teammate and just stick handling around our half of the ice.

My initial reaction to the sticks feel was that it was more solid in my hands. A side by side comparison with my Synergy Elite proved that the stick weighed pretty much exactly the same as the SE16, which was confusing. Passing, shooting and even accepting a pass seemed as though the stick was balanced differently then before. The puck seemed to settle down quickly and come off the blade crisp and flat. So far so good they say.

I settled into one of the face off dots to the left of the net with a pile of pucks to take a bunch of shots. I also had one of my teammates snap a bunch of pictures so you can see the stick (and a beer leaguer) in action. After completing a battery of test wrist, snap and slapshots – I can honestly say that the stick opened up my eyes even more. The stick seemed to out perform my old model to the point that I was no longer just going to test it out, but I was going to use it during the game – how about that for a review?

After playing in the game, I made a few more observations:

easton_hockeyThe shaft wall seemed to be slightly thicker. I normally know when my stick flexes, you can feel the whip when you take a good wrist shot or slapshot. Like I said earlier, the stick just felt more solid then the previous model in this respect. Construction wise it appeared to be the same, but I felt maybe the materials used in construction had been changed slightly.

The flex rating may have also been changed. Again, with a 100 flex it offers a great deal of give (compared to wood), which in turn helps power through your shots. Even though I didn’t notice the stick flexing as much, it was definitely apparent in the photos my teammate had taken.

The blade looked slightly thicker and felt more solid and reinforced then it was previously. I didn’t know whether the composite was laid differently or if they changed how they constructed the blade – but it seems as though it would hold up to abuse better.

Interview with an Easton Stick Engineer

When I inquired about some of the questions above as a follow up, I was referred to Easton stick engineer Mike Mountain and did a quick interview with him. Mike was very gracious, he’s an avid beer leaguer himself and he took the time to answer my questions with great detail:

Michael Schuerlein: Tell me a little bit about about the new SE16 Mike.

Mike Mountain: The SE16 has technology behind the stick that we call a Focus Weight Technology. What Focus Weight Technology is, is a concentrated mass in the blade which controls puck vibration and blade reaction. The premise is to be able to have a better feel for the puck when stick handling, better control when catching passes and better control overall in general. We discovered the idea, by putting weights on our normal blades. We found that when catching passes with these weights attached, the puck would settle down and it literally made the puck stick to your blade. We figured out a way to place this centralized weight internally, and from there we achieved the same performance level.

MS: Moving from the Synergy Elite Series that I used previously to the new SE16, I felt as though the stick was stiffer. Can you tell me about the wall diameter or the materials used in the shaft and if they have changed at all with the new model?

MM: We did a couple of different things with the shaft portion of the stick. First, we incorporated part of our Focus Weight Technology there as well. We internalized some weights to the upper region of the stick and this acted as a counterweight to the blade. By using your bottom hand as the pivot point, this creates a blade light feel so as able to counter balance the stick in general.

The second thing we have done to the shaft, and it sounds as though you were able to pick up on this – we wanted to figure out a way to make the shaft stronger, while maintaining the same weight. So the wall thickness actually changed slightly. On the narrow sides it got a little bit thicker and we were able to pull material from wider sides. So what that did was give us a much improved corner impact strength, but at the same time keeping the same weight. In truth, it hit the same stiffness profile, but we have a tolerance and perhaps one stick to the next there will be slight differences in the flex so maybe you noticed something there as well.

MS: That brings me to my next question actually. I use a 100 flex, and the stick I used previously seemed to have a little more whip to it. It felt as though maybe the Focus Weight Technology counteracted some of the flex or the flex ratings have changed with the new shaft composition. Have the flex ratings changed at all?

MM: There are certainly going to be a lot of different variables that go into the way a stick feels and performs, so yes the FWT in the blade is going to affect the reaction on the puck. When we are developing new models, especially when they are replacing existing popular ones – the spec for flex and stiffness and our stiffness profile doesn’t change. We try to engineer it in a way that it will be somewhat seamless to the player. What we did find when we went into the SE16, because we were changing the thickness profile, that there was going to be a slight change in stiffness, so I think that is what you are picking up on.

MS: Can you tell me more about the blade? It felt as though the composite was different and thicker, did you do anything in that respect to stiffen that part of the stick?

MM: No, in terms of going from the SE to the SE16 the construction is very similar. You have the multi-rib construction, a micro-bladder process that gives great compaction and there is structural foam. We use that micro-bladder to actually insert the focus weight, so it’s able to be right in the middle of the blade right in that heal area where you have most of your impacts to help settle the puck down.

Over time though, we discover different things about the blade and how we put down the composites, so there are things that differ slightly. But overall, the stiffness profile hasn’t changed much at all.

MS: Composite sticks seem to break all the time, sometimes rather easily. Have there been any reports from the guys in the NHL that the SE16 seems to hold up any better with use?

MM: Oh yes, absolutely. When we went to the SE, that’s when things really started to improve for us. We were basically asking guys to see if they could break them and guys were having trouble doing that. We realized that we were stepping into a new area of durability. There are still obviously some challenges with durability, it’s always a focus of ours that we want to concentrate on that when we are developing a new model. We make improvements each and every time. So, to answer your question – the players have noticed an increase in durability, yes.

In Conclusion

So, in conclusion – the Easton SE16 stick lives up to the Synergy Elite sticks that came before it and have even surpassed it on many levels. This can only be a testament to the research and development that goes behind the design of each and every model of stick produced. As you can tell by my glowing review, I am a completely satisfied player when it comes to my stick selection. Any fear that I may have had due to the changes in the new model were eased after using this stick during the game I played in last week. I noted improved durability, balance, overall feel, stronger and harder shots and of course, better puck control. All important aspects to any player and at every level of hockey.

My recommendation is that you show Easton some love and purchase the SE16 at any of your local proshops or the various online merchants across the internet.

Seriously, go right now.

Don’t just take my word for it either, sixteen of your favorite Islanders players used Easton composite sticks in the 2008-2009 season: Jeff Tambellini, Trent Hunter, Andy Hilbert, Mark Streit, Dean McAmmond, Richard Park, Andy Sutton, Jack Hillen, Tomas Pock, Josh Bailey, Tim Jackman, Mitch Fritz, Blake Comeau, Kyle Okposo, Bruno Gervais, Doug Weight. When one team has that much trust in a specific brand of equipment, it speaks volumes.

A Charles Wang Thank You

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Lighthouse Project, News

charles_podium Not even hours after the show of support for his heralded Lighthouse Project, Islanders owner Charles Wang released the following in a press release thanking everyone who came out in a show of support today:

“I would like to thank everyone that turned out to support and comment on the project. My partner Scott Rechler and I were so pleased to see the overwhelming turnout at both the rally and the public hearing. The Lighthouse project is something which has mobilized Long Islanders to get behind a future for their families and future generations. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the community, Town of Hempstead and Nassau County as the Lighthouse project moves forward. The Lighthouse is a catalyst to kick start Long Island’s economy, and we need it now.”

As someone who covers the team, and was in house to witness this large step for the Lighthouse – allow me to THANK YOU Charles; be it not for your dedication to New York, Long Island and especially the New York Islanders, the franchise would have ceased to exist as we know it many, many years ago. For seven years you have worked day and night on getting this project to become reality. Today you got another step closer to making that happen.

Again, thank you for sticking this out.

Images From The Lighthouse Rally and Meeting

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Lighthouse Project, News

I have a bit of a treat for you, earlier today I was snapping pictures from both my iPhone and my camera. I had forgotten my USB cable so I couldn’t upload them from the meeting at Hofstra this afternoon. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because if my pictures were not good enough, I have some pictures that were given to my by the Lighthouse people. These could be elsewhere by now, and I am sure they will be – so enjoy the exclusivity while you can. (Edit: Who would’ve guessed – they are posted elsewhere already).

These first four were sent to me and ARE NOT taken by me (Click on images to view full sized):

"Just Build It" Lighthouse Rally

Supporters at the "Just Build It" Rally

Charles Wang and Tom Suozzi march in the "Just Build It" rally

Charles Wang addresses the crowd at Hofstra University

The images below are the ones I snapped at various points today (not as good, obviously):

Lighthouse 001 (Large)

Lighthouse 002 (Large)

This post was WAY too long to have all the images on the main page, click below to continue to check out all the photos!

Continue Reading »

Bossy and Nystrom Support The Lighthouse

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Lighthouse Project, News

Here are two pictures I snapped of Mike Bossy and Bob Nystrom with the media after they spoke at the hearing.

It’s Lighthouse Rally Time

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Lighthouse Project, News

Get Your Rally Cap

Today is the day, that’s right – today is August 4th the day of the “Just Build It” rally and public comment hearing for the Town of Hempstead. For what has seemed like months and months of planning by The Lighthouse Development Group all boils down to today, another HUGE step in the what will hopefully be the right direction in terms of forward momentum for the Lighthouse.

The buzz about today is certainly strong. If you look around the web countless websites and media outlets have taken notice and have been running stories for the last few days. Here is what some are saying:

NHL.com – One of the biggest — if not the biggest — days in New York Islanders history will not take place on the ice.”

Dom over at Lighthouse Hockey says today is a “king of a deal” in terms of importance.

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog says today is a “Critical Moment”.

Newsday’s Eden Laikin claims to expect big crowds for today’s event – I think this is the first time she has expressed optimism. Although yesterday she had another great article that followed a gigantic full page advertisement for the Lighthouse Project.

What you need to know

Here is some important information that you should know:

The rally at the Coliseum starts at 8am, free parking for the event is in lot 8 (coincidence I am sure).

Don’t forget to grab your free “Just Build It” t-shirts, they are available for the first 2000 attendees.

Numerous guests from the Islanders will be there: Charles Wang, Alumni, Josh Bailey and Joel Rechlicz with Howie Rose as the event MC. Oh and did I mention Gary Bettman will also speak? Yes, this is that big of a deal that the commish will come out and show support for the Islanders.

The group from the rally will march from the Coliseum to Adams Playhouse on the grounds of Hofstra around 8:45.

Can’t make it, follow along on numerous blogs including the official Lighthouse Blog where Lighthouse team member Jamie Reysen will be live blogging and tweeting. Make sure you are following along there and on twitter @Lighthouse_LI.

Ok, well that just about does it for now. Don’t forget you can also follow me on twitter by following @islesblogger.

Comeau Signed for Two Years

Posted by on 03 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: News, Signings

It never fails with these pesky press releases, seems they are always sent when I am in the middle of something else and cannot ever get them out fast enough. At any rate, the Islanders have announced that Blake Comeau has been signed to a two-year, likely one way contract. Comeau was an integral part of the lineup for much of last season and as I said when Jack Hillen was resigned last week – I was hoping a deal could be worked out for Blake as well.

Here is what the team had to say about Comeau today:

The New York Islanders announced today that they have agreed to terms with forward, Blake Comeau to a two-year contract.

Comeau was originally selected by the Islanders at the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft in the second round (47th overall). After starting last season with the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Comeau returned to the Islanders, producing his best year yet with seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 53 games. Over the past two seasons, Comeau has played in a total of 104 games with the Islanders, collecting 40 points (15 goals and 25 assists).

“We are excited to have Blake as part of our line-up,” said Garth Snow, General Manager, New York Islanders. “He is a versatile player who has great promise and is developing into a solid NHL player.”

Internationally, Comeau was a part of Team Canada’s gold medal winning 2006 World Junior Championship team. He served as the assistant captain and led the team in scoring with three goals and four assists for seven points.

Prior to his pro career, Comeau skated in the Western Hockey League for the Kelowna Rockets. The Meadow Lake, SASK native won the Memorial Cup with the Rockets in 2004, notching six points (four goals and two assists) in 17 games.

Congratulations Blake, these next two years are a great opportunity to prove you have found your niche on Long Island and can help rebuild them back into a contender.