There is nothing like fantastic news after the first blazing hot day of the summer.
It’s been a slow few weeks in Islanders country, although – not in terms of talks with Nassau County on that whole new Arena business. The Islanders however, have announced today that they have agreed to terms with Kyle Okposo on a five-year contract.
Per the Islanders press release:
The New York Islanders announced today that forward Kyle Okposo has agreed to terms on a five-year contract.
“I’m very excited to commit to the Islanders for the next five years, especially with the news of the new Coliseum,” Okposo said. “This team really showed its potential in the second half of the season last year and I’m excited to be a part of getting the franchise back to the playoffs.”
Okposo, 23, scored five goals with 15 assists in 38 games for the Islanders last season. The St. Paul, MN, native missed the first 44 games of 2010-11 due to a shoulder injury, which he suffered during training camp.
“Kyle has been a critical part of our young core over the past few seasons,” said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. “He is a high character guy that brings size and a scoring touch to our lineup.”
The Islanders selected Okposo in the first round, seventh overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He has served as an assistant captain since 2009-10. In 192 career NHL games, all with the Islanders, Okposo has scored 116 points (44 goals, 72 assists).
The 6’0”, 210-pound forward has also played in 35 American Hockey League games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and he’s represented the United States at two World Championships and two World Junior Championships.
Before beginning his professional career, Okposo spent one season in the United States Hockey League with the Des Moines Buccaneers, followed by two collegiate years at the University of Minnesota.
Now that Okposo is in the fold for the next while, Garth can look to some of the other players who are also restricted free agents and deserve some longevity as well.
Kyle didn’t really show us what he could do to the fullest potential this past season – due to his shoulder injury in camp and I was personally disappointed. He is one of those players who may not always wind up on the score sheet, but is ALWAYS in position defensively and makes those important offensive plays as well. He’s not afraid to hit and has shown he has that razzle dazzle with the puck on his stick.
The Islanders certainly solidified themselves for the long term with this contract, as they did with Michael Grabner’s contract a few weeks back.
It was 1983, the Islanders were on their way to their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup and the then young official Kerry Fraser called what he even admits was a bad game. He recalls the feeling like a young school boy being scolded by Arbour, and gives a fantastic insiders look into what goes on within the officiating community – especially during Playoff time. Fraser’s remarks came from a TSN column on make up calls.
Here are a few tidbits:
In 1983, I worked a game in Chicago Stadium between the New York Islanders dynasty team coached by the legendary, Al Arbour. Discipline was the trademark of those Arbour-coached teams. Al seldom raised his voice. When he did, I knew I screwed up. Ten minutes into this game, I had given the normally disciplined Islanders four penalties. It wasn’t that they were playing poorly; it was just that I was that awful.
The fourth penalty put the Islanders two men short and Al stood in the open door of his players’ bench with his hand on his hips while I waited in the end zone for him to place three players on the ice. His icy glare drew a bead on me as he waived his arm at me and yelled, “Kerry, get over here!”
I had such respect for Al, I skated over upon his command and stood before him like a school kid in front of the principal. Al said, “Kerry, what the hell are you doing out here tonight?” With my eyes focused on my skates beneath me I replied, “I don’t know Al. I’m really struggling and don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Finally, I raised my eyes to see this coaching icon scratching his head and staring back at me. He pressed his lips together and said, “Well get the hell out there and try harder.” Like a little kid that was scolded by his father I responded, “Okay, Al, I’ll do my best.”
There is certainly a lot more to read and it’s a great to see that Fraser continues to contribute to hockey even in his retirement. As much as he has taken his digs from fans with all those now famous chants, he was always one of the referees I would hope to catch a glimpse of – there was always something about the way he skated and officiated.
Then there was the fact that he was one of the last officials to forgo wearing a helmet, oh and how could I forget – the hair.
In an off season that has seen some crazy stuff during the playoffs – at least there was some talk of the Islanders, and it wasn’t even draft related!