April 2011

Monthly Archive

Michael Grabner – A Calder Finalist!

Posted by on 19 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Hot Headlines, News

Michael Grabner’s fantastic year is only getting better and better! After a breakout season with the Islanders, and an All Star Appearance, he saw the birth of his first child and has now been named a Calder Finalist. Grabner will be one of three players nominated and will attend the NHL Awards in Las Vegas this coming June.

From the Islanders release:

The National Hockey League announced today that New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner has been named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given annually to the league’s top rookie. Grabner is one of three finalists who will attend the 2011 NHL Awards Show on June 22 in Las Vegas, NV.

Grabner, 23, led all NHL rookies and all Islanders this season with 34 goals, while his 52 points ranked third amongst league rookies and fourth overall on the team. The Villach, Austria, native also led all rookies and finished second in the NHL with six shorthanded goals this season, and he ranked first amongst rookies and tied for second overall with seven shorthanded points.

Ten of Grabner’s 34 goals this season came during a stretch in February in which he scored goals in six consecutive games to match the NHL’s longest goal-scoring streak of the season. Grabner’s 26 even-strength goals also led all rookies and trailed just seven players overall.

To go along with his goal-scoring prowess, Grabner posted a team-high +13 rating this season and was one of six Islanders to finish with a plus rating. The two-way forward also recorded fewer penalty minutes (10) than any other Islanders player who appeared in at least 21 games.

At the season’s midway point, NHL Hockey Operations selected Grabner to represent the Islanders at NHL All Star Weekend in Raleigh, NC. He made his mark on the weekend and helped Team Staal earn a victory at the Honda Superskills event by winning the Bridgestone Fastest Skater competition.

Grabner made his NHL debut last season with the Vancouver Canucks, playing in 20 games and posting 11 points (five goals, six assists). He was traded from Vancouver to the Florida Panthers this offseason, before the New York Islanders claimed him off of waivers on Oct. 5, 2010. In 96 career NHL games, Grabner has scored 39 goals with 24 assists for 63 points with a +15 rating.

The 2011 NHL Draft Drawing

Posted by on 12 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Draft, General

Once again, it’s that very special time of year for the NHL – The Fall of the Balls.

That’s not a crazy innuendo for something either, it’s just reality. This season though, it’s not just called the Draft Lottery, the NHL decided to change things up and re-name it – the NHL Draft Drawing

Each year once the season has completed and right before the playoffs – the NHL hold their annual draft lottery drawing live on television. The teams all have a specific weight (or number of balls in the machine) that will determine where they will select in the NHL Entry Draft in June.

It’s a convoluted system that I only understand because I have been watching closely for a few years now, as the Islanders have now been a lottery team the last four consecutive years. It’s easiest to explain for the bottom five place teams in the league (teams that finish 30 to 26). Those bottom five teams have the best chances at moving up and picking number one overall – and the chances drop off pretty significantly after those spots.

Take a look (emphasis added on the Islanders chances):

Odds of winning the NHL Draft Drawing
Edmonton (30th place) – 25.0 percent
Colorado 29th place – 18.8 percent
Florida 28th place – 14.2 percent
Islanders 27th place – 10.7 percent
Ottawa 26th place – 8.1 percent
Atlanta 25th place – 6.2 percent
Columbus 24th place – 4.7 percent
New Jersey 23rd place – 3.6 percent
Boston (Via Toronto) 22nd place – 2.7 percent
Minnesota 21st place – 2.1 percent
Colorado (conditional/optional from STL) 20th place – 1.5 percent
Carolina 19th place – 1.1 percent
Calgary 18th place – 0.8 percent
Dallas 17th place – 0.5 percent

Some simple rules, no team can jump up more than five spots and no team can move down more than one – so the very worst the Islanders can do tonight is the 5th overall selection, if they retain their selection – it will be the 4th overall selection, and if their 10.7% chance comes in – they will pick first overall for the second time in three years.

Here is a handy chart that I had made last year, and have since updated for this years Lottery:

Year Selected Effect On Draft Order Player Selected
1995 Los Angeles Moved from 7th to 3rd D Aki Berg
1996 Ottawa Retained 1st selection D Chris Phillips
1997 Boston Retained 1st selection C Joe Thornton
1998 Tampa Bay Moved from 3rd to 1st via trades C Vincent Lecavalier
1999 Chicago Moved from 8th to 4th RW Pavel Brendl *
2000 NY Islanders Moved from 5th to 1st G Rick DiPietro
2001 Atlanta Moved from 3rd to 1st LW Ilya Kovalchuk
2002 Florida Moved from 3rd to 1st LW Rick Nash **
2003 Florida Moved from 4th to 1st G Marc-Andre Fleury ***
2004 Washington Moved from 3rd to 1st LW Alex Ovechkin
2005 Pittsburgh n/a (Lockout) C Sidney Crosby
2006 St. Louis Retained 1st selection D Erik Johnson
2007 Chicago Moved from 5th to 1st RW Patrick Kane
2008 Tampa Bay Retained 1st selection C Steven Stamkos
2009 NY Islanders Retained 1st selection C John Tavares
2010 Edmonton Oilers Retained 1st selection LW Taylor Hall

Who do you think that the Islanders will draft out of the top pics? A defenseman or a forward? Let’s hear what you think.

Jack Capuano: Interim No More

Posted by on 12 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: News, Off Season

Word out of Islanders Country this morning officially puts to rest the rumors surrounding coach Jack Capuano – he has now been named Head Coach of the New York Islanders.

Terms and dollars, as per team policy were not announced.

I’ll have some more in a bit after the conference call!

Good for Jack on this, I’m very happy with this move and I’m anticipating some good stuff down the line!

It also appears that assistants Dean Chynoweth and Scott Allen will remain in their positions as well.

Islanders Sign Shane Sims to ATO

Posted by on 09 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Signings

With the Islanders final game today in Philadelphia, the team needed to find another player for defensive help on an emergency basis. Trying as hard as I could yesterday, I had joked with Islanders GM Garth Snow that I was ready, willing and able to be signed to an ATO (this would fulfill the Twitter wishes from yesterday). Unfortunately, Garth said he’d seen me skate (Untrue! Blast that GM!) and today, signed Shane Sims over myself.

Some particulars on Sims, per the Islanders release:

The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Shane Sims has signed an NHL regular season amateur tryout agreement. The club is under emergency conditions, with injuries to Jack Hillen and Milan Jurcina.

Sims, 22, led all Ohio State University defenseman in scoring this season with 19 points and ranked second overall on the team with 16 assists. The East Amherst, NY, native also led the Buckeyes with a plus-9 rating during his senior campaign.

The Islanders selected Sims in the fifth round (126th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In 152 career NCAA games with Ohio State, Sims recorded 16 goals and 55 assists for 71 points. Before his collegiate career, the 6-1, 195-pound blueliner played two seasons with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, earning all-rookie honors in 2006 and being named a USHL All-Star in 2007.

I suppose I’ll use the off season to bulk up and work with my power skating coach. Consider yourself lucky Sims.

Islanders Sign Jamie Doornbosch to ATO

Posted by on 08 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, News, Signings

Well, we knew something along these lines would have HAD to have played out, once we learned that Matt Campanale couldn’t play more than one game (a game in which he played just over 8 minutes and didn’t look completely out of place…).

Today, the Islanders have found another defensive stop-gap measure in Jamie Doornbosch.

Doornbosch, a 21-year old defenseman for the OHL Kitchener Rangers, will make his NHL debut tonight at Nassau Coliseum in the much anticipated rematch of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Per the Islanders release today:

The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Jamie Doornbosch has signed an NHL regular season amateur tryout agreement. The club is under emergency conditions, with injuries to Jack Hillen and Milan Jurcina.

Doornbosch, 21, scored 19 goals and 29 assists in 68 games in his overage season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. The Richmond Hill, ON, native also added one goal and one assist in seven playoff games with Kitchener. Doornbosch finished second amongst Rangers defensemen and scoring and ranked second on the team with 12 power play goals.

In 264 career OHL games with Kitchener and the Peterborough Petes, Doornbosch recorded 41 goals and 106 assists for 147 points. The 6’ 2”, 190-pound blueliner was acquired by the Rangers in a 2010 trade with the Peterborough Petes, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

What will the team do for this seasons closer in Philadelphia you ask?

My friends on Twitter seem to think that Garth Snow Should sign me to an ATO contract, as it would make for some great story lines.

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/YesIslanders/status/56417270100000770"]

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/RealKenDick/status/56442095694655488"]

From the Press Box to the Players Box: Blogger Turns Pro!

Yep, that would be something!

Islanders Sign Matt Campanale to ATO

Posted by on 06 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: General, Signings

Due to a rash of defensive injuries, the Islanders have announced the signing of Matt Campanale to an amateur tryout contract today.

Talk about a whirlwind of change for for this former collegiate player, he made his debut for the Sound Tigers on the 2nd and is now likely going to finish the the season out in the NHL. Nope Eric Hornick clears up the ATO mumbo jumbo, straight from the pages of the CBA over here – apparently the contract is only valid for one game.

Per the Islanders release:

The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Matt Campanale has signed an NHL regular season amateur tryout agreement. The club is under emergency conditions to Jack Hillen and Milan Jurcina. Campanale will make his NHL debut tonight, when the Islanders face the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m.

Campanale, 23, led all University of New Hampshire skaters this season with a plus-25 rating, while playing in all 39 games of his senior campaign. The Chester Springs, PA, native made his professional debut with the Islanders’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, on April 2 and has posted a plus-two rating in two AHL games this season.

In 106 career NCAA games, Campanale recorded three goals and 21 assists with a plus-30 rating. The 5’ 11”, 200-pound blueliner played for the Green Mountain Glades of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) before his collegiate career. In his final EJHL season (2006-07), Campanale led all Glades defensemen in scoring with 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists) and was selected an EJHL First-Team All-Star.

The New York PHWA Saga

Posted by on 02 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: General, News

I think it would be irresponsible of me, as a blogger – not to chime in on this tough issue.

I’d like to preface this post, with a simple explanation. In no way shape or form – am I a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association. I acknowledge that I am not a pro, but at the same time – after four and a half seasons of press access with the New York Islanders, I consider myself more than a typical blogger.

For example, I’ve gone to THREE NHL Entry Drafts now, with plans to go to my fourth this year in Minnesota (on my own dime) to cover the draftees and ultimately the selections of the club, I have done guest blogs, live chats, radio, video – the whole spectrum. I take what I do seriously and maintain a level of respect for the actual members of the media, as I should.

When news broke of the New York Chapter of the PHWA (and now Long Island and NJ following suit) protesting the NHL Award voting in support of Chris Botta’s credentials being discontinued by the Islanders, initially I thought it was admirable that they would do such a thing. I think that Chris is an excellent writer and I really enjoy his insight and knowledge. Without the support of Chris four years ago, I would never be writing the words that I am writing today, nor would I have experienced all of the great things that I have – so I am and always will be grateful of that.

That said, I have supported and continue to support the New York Islanders decision to discontinue his access. I know – that doesn’t really make sense given my enjoyment of his blog and writing, but hear me out.

What has transpired over the last several years has been a growing problem. Chris Botta was the long serving PR Director for the New York Islanders, he made his way up the ranks during his long career and was even honored for his many years of service during an on-ice ceremony, received a watch and a framed jersey sporting his name. Eventually, the tides turned, and Chris Dey (then Team President) removed and/or asked Botta to resign from his long-standing post.

He landed on his feet however, starting his blog and even being “sponsored” by the Islanders in ways that weren’t exactly clear, but from what I could tell – footed the bill for his site and perhaps even allowing him to collect some form of payment in the process. After two seasons, the Islanders removed said sponsorship and Chris moved onto other avenues – writing for AOL Fanhouse, the New York Times Slap Shot blog and eventually the SNY Sports Network. He’s turned his blog into his new career, but it obviously wasn’t without some sort of resentment towards the Islanders.

Chris was all things Lighthouse Project two summers ago, attending every Town of Hempstead meeting and even getting up on stage to say his piece as a resident and supporter of the project. During my own experience with the Lighthouse Project, I got a taste of my first bit of what I expect was his resentment to the Islanders. I won’t go into details, but during an argument on differing views Chris was not very nice to me, dragging my PERSONAL LIFE into the mix to the point I had to notify Islanders Management. If he could take that route with me, I can only imagine some of the other little tricks up his sleeve.

Fast forward a bit and we come to the negative things he’s said about the team – which, according to everyone watching, wasn’t all untrue. That said, if you read between the lines – Chris has been extremely critical of the Islanders to the point you had to raise an eyebrow. I’ve written some critical things over the years myself, perhaps out of entitlement as a season ticket holder (you know a PAYING customer and all…) but what he has said has often come off as bitter and aimed DIRECTLY at those involved with decisions, rather than what should have been directed at the goings on at the time.

As writers, we have every right to be critical towards the teams and/or subjects we write about. That’s part of one of the greatest freedoms we enjoy here in the United States. At the same time, it is our duty to maintain a level of professionalism, fairness and respect. The issue here doesn’t just lie in the critical writings by one person, but the lead up to how things have gotten to the point they have.

The PHWA is up in arms about one of their members credentials being discontinued, but the point here is that the Islanders have not done anything wrong and the NHL even supports them in their decision. Like it or not, Chris Botta is a former employee of the Islanders who has become somewhat of liability. Their decision to discontinue his access, doesn’t really need explanation, they are within their rights (if you read the back of a credential any member of the press wears, myself included) to remove or discontinue access at will. The Islanders aren’t the first club to remove access from a member of the press either, so why the fuss?

Much like coaching changes that happen during the course of seasons, like with the New York Islanders this season when they removed Scott Gordon; how is the removal of someone from the group covering the team any different? Perhaps his attitude didn’t fit with the team, perhaps his relationship with the players or coaches had come into question, perhaps – he contributed to a wave of negativity the Islanders were trying to change? What if scouts, players AND coaches had grown tired of reading his sometimes non-stop hammering of the team and it’s decisions and asked management to step in?

Instead of the PHWA examining these potential issues, Larry Brooks, the Chairman of the NYC Chapter of ten writers voted 7-3 to protest the NHL Award voting. According to various accounts, the Rangers group have also gotten the Islanders AND the New Jersey Devils writers on board as well.

Earlier I mentioned that it was an admirable movement, but the more I think about it – it’s just a waste of effort.

What will this prove? It’s only going to hurt several players in the Tri-State market in the long run – including three players spread over the two teams these writers cover. Michael Grabner has continued to make his case for the Rookie of the Year award with 31 goals, Frans Nielsen and the Rangers Brandon Prust could each be Selke Trophy candidates. As individuals who watch those players on a daily basis, their vote is all the more important as out of market writers may not see, or appreciate what they have done this season.

What’s more, these same writers could also vote for players from teams LEAGUE WIDE – so in their attempt to protest a decision of a local team, their reach has a much further impact then they may have anticipated. Protesting rarely ever has the intended outcome, and I do not foresee a favorable outcome for the PHWA in this situation.

Rock Em Sock Em Against The Rangers

Posted by on 01 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: General, Injuries, Recap

Once again, the Islanders showed that they should be a pretty good team next season in a spirited 6-2 win over their rival New York Rangers last night at Nassau Coliseum.

Despite mounting injuries and a defensive group made up of mostly Bridgeport Sound Tigers – the Islanders defense held the Rangers at one goal for the better part of two and a half periods. What’s more, missing two important penalty killers (Grabner out his second game due to the birth of his first child and Nielsen suffering a head injury in the second period) – the Islanders PK was outstanding. I’m sure Rangers head coach John Tortorella will have PLENTY of tape to go over, having gone 0/7 with the man advantage, including TWO five on three opportunities.

I mentioned that the Islanders were sporting some defensive injuries, but they also suffered TWO more last night – Ty Wishart suffered a shoulder injury and Jack Hillen suffered an upper body injury as well. It got so bad, the Islanders were forced to play Okposo on defense for a shift.

The Numbers

Let’s take a look at just how spectacular the Islanders defense was last night:

One of the rare veterans in the lineup last night, Radek Martinek had a great game. He was credited with three hits, three take aways, had a goal, an assist and finished with a +1 with 22:49 minutes of ice time. When Martinek uses his shot from the point, great things happen. His goal, a blast from the blueline off a slick Parenteau pass, beat Lundqvist over his glove. He would add an assist, with a similar play, this time deflected by Joensuu in front.

I asked Martinek after the game if the coaching staff wants him to use that great shot of his more – he told me they [the coaches] have wanted him to shoot more all season, he knows he has a good shot and good things happen when he does – he just doesn’t often think shot first.

I wasn’t the only one to notice what happens when Martinek uses that shot – Head Coach Jack Capuano talked about it during his press conference when he said “When Marty uses his shot like tonight, he gives us a chance to win hockey games”.

Young Travis Hamonic continues his strong play and what has become a Cinderella season for him – never expecting to remain with the Islanders for the full season. Last night Hamonic had a team high 24:52 minutes of ice time, tallied an assist on the game tying goal, three hits, two blocked shots and get this – a +4 on the night.

Jack Hillen is another player that has come back from a rough start – he was good offensively last night, jumping in the rush and making smart passes, stood up for his team in his fight with Dubinsky, earned an assist with his cross ice feed to Martinek’s tipped shot by Joensuu, had 22:13 minutes of ice time (that was limited by his late injury), and finished with a +2 on the night. Hillen also lead the team in hits last night with four.

Quietly however, Dylan Reese made the most of his 16:33 minutes of play, unless you count his fight with Fedotenko late in the game of course. Reese would finish the game with THREE assists, and a +3 rating. He’s one of those steady players that you often don’t really notice on the back end, which is never a bad thing.

Mark Katic finished the night -1 and with 19 minutes of ice time, and Ty Wishart was playing well – until a shoulder injury would finish him for the night, having only played 12 minutes.

The forwards were equally impressive, Tavares had two assists and was +4, Comeau finished with a goal and was +3, Joensuu FINALLY used his size in front of the net on his deflection and was +1 with 11:37 minutes of ice time, Moulson had a goal (his 31st) and an assist and would finish +3, Parenteau would also notch a goal (his 19th) and assist (has now reached 50 points) and would wind up +4 on the night. The most surprising goal of the night? Trevor Gillies netting his second of the season and second career goal on a nice deflection of a Reese point shot.

Al Montoya played another solid game, making 25 saves on 27 shots. He was great positionally, gave the Rangers very little to shoot at and controlled his rebounds well. Considering the defense that was in front of him, the Islanders really supported Montoya last night – and gave him his first win over the club that drafted him.

The Fights

The fight card was chock-full of action last night:

Hillen fought Dubinsky
Avery got clobbered and bloodied by Haley
Prust fought an injured Konopka
Fedotenko fought Reese

But that wasn’t all, there were plenty of hits, pushing, shoving and just outright old school hockey throughout the game. It’s great to see this team stand up for each other, especially when Nielsen was hit from behind by Gaborik in the second period.

In a game with nothing to lose, the Islanders played great and really took it to their rival. They also made it that much harder for the Rangers, who are barely staying in the playoff picture.

They can do even more damage against the Hurricanes this weekend – should be interesting.

In closing, I doubt the league will – but I hope they look into the hit on Nielsen. But we know how that goes.