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Friday, January 30, 2009

OK Shannon… I don’t think you get it…

Back on December 16th when the Islanders hosted the Washington Capitals at the Coliseum, the team agreed to participate in an ESPN the Magazine feature called "Fan Army Goes to Work"where a casual fan works a game night position for a team. There as someone who was an “Assistant Coach” at an NCAA men’s basketball game, a game operations assistant for an NBA game, etc. A young, 27-year old lady named Shannon Patinkin, whose boyfriend is apparently an Islander fan, was an Ice Girl for a night for the magazine’s feature.

You can read the story here. It’s also on page 72 of the February 9th edition.

I personally don’t understand what Shannon was expecting of the experience. She clearly didn’t get it.



She said: “Speaking of players, we were not allowed contact with the Islanders. We even entered the rink from the visitors' tunnel and always had to keep a distance from the home team.”

Response: Was she expecting to set up dinner plans for after the game? And half the squad enters through the visitors side, the other half does in fact enter through the Islanders' entrance.

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She said: “We weren't allowed to do tricks, because the NHL says using our picks creates big holes in the ice. Bummer.”

Response: Who cares about the health of the players if they get a skate caught in a divot or rut.

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She said: “Before the game, we ran over to a season ticket-holder event and took photos. The fans clearly didn't think we had any brains at all. And there was a little too much hugging.”

Response: So she wanted to get to know the players, but not interact with the fans.

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She said: “They didn't even let me keep the ugly outfit.”

Response: Her personal taste aside, the costumes aren’t cheap. People just love free things. See this.

There's an accompanying video to her experience. The funny thing is, if you just watched the video, you'd think she had a great time. After reading the story, not so much.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Island Snapshots: Streit Pre-Game Stretch

Haven't posted any pictures in a long, long time, but I thought this was too good to pass up...

This picture (a Corey Witt original) was taken about 45 minutes ago right outside the Islanders/visiting team dressing room at Phillips Arena. Mark Streit was going through his pre-game stretching routine and the Thrashers mascot, Thrash, decided to join in for a few minutes. It was a comedic 90 seconds to say the least.

Phillips Arena

Phillips Arena is one of the more unique arenas in the NHL. Opened in the fall of 1999, it’s the home of the Atlanta Thrashers and Hawks. It sits on the same footprint as the old Omni Coliseum, which plays a big part in its unique design.

Three quarters of the Phillips Arena looks like every other new arena. But the fourth side of the building is almost completely vertical. The suites are located on this vertical or flat side of the building with about six levels all directly on top of each other.

Imagine you’re at the Nassau Coliseum and looking at the penalty box side of the building. Leave the ¾ of the lower bowl of the 100s and 200s sections and then above that is five levels of suites and a press box on top of that. The view from the suites are close and on top of the action.

The Arena was built this way because the developers needed to fit a 20,000 seat building with 100 luxury boxes where a 15,000 seat building with 16 boxes was previously. Using the same footprint that Omni Coliseum sat on, Phillips Arena was squeezed into. Developers figured out if one side of the building was more vertical then the others, they could build it. And it was built.

It’s one of the more unique/newer buildings in the NHL and it’s a real nice place.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yo, Fabian!

The Dallas Stars assigned forward Fabian Brunnstrom to the AHL's Manitoba Moose. On TSN.ca, it was called “a quick fall from grace.”

Unfortunately for TSN, the story does not mention that Fabbi hasn’t played since Dec. 27 when he suffered a lower body injury and that this could be a simple rehab for the young forward who is on pace to score 20+ goals while going for the Cy Young (current stats: 10 g – 4 a).

Even the reliable TSN of Canada can make mistakes. Just a reminder to not take everything you read in the media as 100 percent fact.

SBD on Versus Telecast of ASG

Below is a media recap from SportsBusiness Daily on Versus’ telecast of All-Star Weekend:

POOR GAME PLAN:

In N.Y., Stu Hackel wrote during Versus' broadcast of Sunday's NHL All-Star Game, there was "endless conversation about many things, but little of it focused on where the puck was, who had it and what they were doing with it." Versus' Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom, who called the All-Star Game, and analyst Ed Olzcyk are "expertly capable of providing precise and lively accounts of what's going on during games and why."

Hackel: "However, when you see and hear a Versus game, and an NBC game as well, that standard is abandoned for nonstop conversation that too often ignores the game's action. Most likely, that's not the decision of the guys behind the mic but the guys behind the scenes, who instruct the announcers to 'tell stories' at the expense of providing clear descriptions and analysis. They do hockey a massive disservice" (NYTIMES.com, 1/26).


NHL Network’s Billy Jaffe (also of MSG Plus and Islanders TV) said of Versus’ coverage of the All-Star Game, “Is it perfect? No. Are they striving to do everything better? Absolutely. … They are doing their best and they are open to suggestions” (“NHL Live!,” NHL Network, 1/26).

I’ve never had a reason not to believe Billy Jaffe, and in saying that, I hope he’s right.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Congratulations to the Danis Family

Yann Danis was absent from Islanders practice today and for good reason. Yann and his wife Kayla had their first child, a baby boy. Jayden Joesph weighed in at 7 pounds and 20 inches.

The family is resting in Connecticut, where Kayla is from. Yann is expected to be back on the ice tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Casual Observations of the ASG

Mark Streit not only returned to Montreal but also showed again what the Islanders knew already. Streiter had two assists and an impressive plus-3 rating. He also recorded two blocked shots and had three takeaways. [That’s with his former coach Guy Carbonneau behind the bench.] In an all-star game, those are impressive stats for a defensemen...

Alex Kovalev might be the least talked about, but best player in the NHL.

Alex Ovechkin, however, is the best and most exciting player in the NHL. If his English were better, he would eclipse Sydney Crosby as the face of the NHL…

Jay Bouwmeester looked pretty good along side of Mark Streit…

Topic of conversation: Fighting in the NHL. I think it belongs, but should players be taking off helmets, no. Should fighting be allowed in junior hockey? No. The NCAA gets along just fine and prospects develop just the same. Should fighting belong in senior hockey? No. But lets not forget, there are just as many – if not more – serious, career and life-threatening injuries occurring from hits from behind. Let’s put as much time and focus on that too.

If you thought the atmosphere in Montreal over TV was impressive, you have to go to a game there. Best NHL experience…

I personally loved the all-star jerseys, but those white gloves for the West… I don’t know about those…

Just sayin’: Last year in his first All-Star Game, Islanders’ goalie Rick DiPietro started and stopped 15 of 16 shots. Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist came in at the start of the second period and allowed six goals on 21 shots…

Read this and appreciate Jack Capuano and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers even more...

Topic of conversation, part 2: Players being “suspended” for not participating in the All-Star Game. Agree with the NHL here. The league needs their best players representing hockey this weekend. If you want to be the best, you have more obligations to fulfill...

More noticeable last night for the Skills Competition, but the NHL and the TV networks need to get on the same page with each other. Knowing Doc Emrick, he was prepared for the events as much as possible. But too often, the viewers were left wondering what was going on or what was next. Unfortunately, Doc couldn’t provide any answers. Casein point: At one point, Doc said that Marc Savard could not shoot at his teammate Tim Thomas in the shootout elimination event. And then in round three, guess what… Not Doc’s fault because the information wasn’t being passed along. But for a great event, the viewers at home shouldn’t be left wondering...

Great job by the city of Montreal, the Canadiens and the NHL for a successful All-Star weekend. Too bad no All-Star Game next year, but we got the Olympics!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Media Alert: Weight on XM at 3:45

Doug Weight will be the guest of Gary Green and Mike Ross on XM Radio’s NHL Home Ice Channel today at 3:45 today.

Where are they now… Bill Mikkelson

An original Islander was in the house this morning. ’72-‘73er Bill Mikkelson attended the morning skate today as part of the Anaheim contingent. Why was he here? His son Brendon is up playing for the Ducks this season and the team is at the tail end of their fathers/mentors trip.

I gave Bill a tour of the locker room, which he said looks nothing like it did the first two seasons he was with the team. (The locker room went through a minor renovation in the mid-to-late 90s, and the layout was changed)

He also was touched to see the team photo of the original 1972-73 team hanging up in our team office at the Coliseum and took a picture with Brendan pointing to his dad.

Bill will be a guest of Rich Barabbi at the end of the first intermission on the scoreboard.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Streit Up for Hardest Shot

Islanders All-Star Representative Mark Streit will participate in the hardest shot competition during the Super Skills showcase on Saturday night in Montreal.

Streit was working on the craft at Iceworks today and was getting his shot at some pretty high speeds. I’m sure when he’s in the moment and the adrenalin is pumping, it’ll be even higher. If so, that will be him right in the thick of things for the title.

He’ll have some stiff competition, but I’m sure Streiter will hold his own.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Road Trip, Day 9: No Sleep Till… Long Island

Weather on Long Island? Cold, but clear.

Weather in Calgary? Snowy.

But as of 8:30 local time, I’m told this won’t affect our 2,500 mile flight back home to Farmingdale’s Republic Airport. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

That will bring our total miles traveled on this excursion across North America and back to approximately 7,600 miles.

We’re scheduled to return home at 6:00 AM on Friday. Does that make it a 10-day road trip? If everything goes according to plan tonight, I’ll settle for calling it a nine-dayer, but who’s counting.

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One odd note I want to pass along. Aside from the 24-hour Yule Log channel at the hotel, we also received WPIX 11. Nothing exceptional, just wasn’t expecting it. Typically, Canadian cities and hotels will carry some American channels. Usually they pick up the ones that are in close proximity. For example, in Montreal we got Burlington, VT channels. Usually, there’s in the same time zone. But we got our 7:00 showing of The Family Guy at 5:00 local time.

1 on 1 with Mark Streit

I interviewed Mark when we got back to the hotel after the morning skate this afternoon.

Albatross? Don’t think so…

Just like the day after the NHL draft when they attempt to name the “winners” and “losers” of the event, journalists think they can name the “busts” and “steals” the days and weeks following the free agency boom in July.

Granted, Mark Streit wasn’t a household name on Long Island on June 30th. But he’s becoming one.

Signed for five years and $20.5 million, GM Garth Snow was getting a quarterback for the power play and someone to patrol the blueline on a regular shift. But there were doubters everywhere that Streiter wasn’t worth the money.

On August 23rd – a month and a half before the regular season even began – Adam Muir of Sports Illustrated labeled Mark No. 5 as the 2008 free agent most likely to bust.

Here’s a link to what he said and here’s what he said:

5. Mark Streit (five years, $20.5 million)

The Islanders might as well have declined the extra man most nights last season, so ineffective was their 29th-rated power play. Streit, whose 34 PP points ranked second among all blueliners, seems like an ideal free agent addition. But did the success of the top-rated Montreal power play revolve around the 31-year-old, or was he the beneficiary of an established system that had led the league without much help from him the previous year? And how much of an asset will he be defensively considering he was minus-six at even strength for a team that was second overall in goals scored? Streit might earn his keep, but the potential for this deal to be an albatross is there.

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Not only offensively, but defensively as well, the star of Switzerland has proven otherwise.

Mark Streit isn’t going to the All-Star Game because every team has to have a representative. In fact, that’s not even a rule – but to the League’s credit, they do try to include at least one person from all 30 teams.

The bottom line is that this isn’t the year of Mariusz Czerkawski or Scott Lachance at the ASG.

As of today, Mark is tied for the league lead among defensemen (and leads all Eastern Conference defensemen) in points with 32. He flat out leads all NHL d-men in power play points with 20. His defensive play can’t be measured in numbers, but everyone around the league is taking notice. Just in the past week, there have been stories in both Edmonton papers about his superb play and Logie has taken notice all season of Mark for Newsday. The Canadian Press named Mark a starter at the game if they had it their way.

So bust? Nah. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if there needed to be an injury replacement in the staring lineup, I can’t think of a better choice than Mark.

So, on January 25, Mark Streit will show the hockey world (his former team who said he couldn’t be regular defenseman and SI who labeled him a bust and all the other teams that didn’t make him an offer) that he’s the real deal on the blueline.

Oh, and what a better place than in the city that told him he can’t be a regular defenseman in the NHL.

The Islanders have him locked up for another four years (at a bargain of a price compared to the other free agent signings last July). And Mark is first class off the ice as well. That’s something we “love” as an organization. Mark Streit loves being on Long Island and an Islander for the next four years.

And the Islanders nor Streit wouldn’t have it any other way.

Way to go Mark. You deserve to play in the All-Star Game.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Road Trip, Day 8: Practice Day in Calgary

Here for our second of three days in Calgary, it was time to get back to work. The team practiced in the mid-afternoon and nothing exceptional to report.

We meet up with Assistant GM Ryan Jankowski, who hails from the Calgary area, today. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with him and see how our young prospects are doing.

One of the cool perks of the job is that you find out some information before everyone else. Today I got an e-mail from the NHL PR office informing me who our All Star Game representative would be. [I’m sure everyone has it narrowed down between two guys.] So, after I got the message, I passed it along to Garth, who told the player. The announcement comes out at Noon EST exclusively on NHL.com.

The team will have a morning skate tomorrow, the game is at 7:00 local time and hopefully a flight back home afterwards. The road is always fun and I love traveling with the team – wouldn’t trade it in for anything – but it would be hard to find someone on the trip who doesn’t miss home at this point.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Road Trip, Day 7: Cal-Gary

After a 45-minute flight from Edmonton to Calgary, we arrived at hotel at around 12:30 last night. It’s substantially warmer here in Calgary. And by warmer, I mean it’s about 16 degree Fahrenheit compared to the 0 degrees it is in Edmonton right now.

We only traveled 190 miles from the two cities, our shortest journey of the trip. That brings us up to a total of 5,150.

The team has a full off-day today and they took the hour-and-a-half trip to the resort town of Bamff, which is like the Vail, Colorado or Miami of Canada.

There will be a team practice at the Saddledome tomorrow afternoon.

The Flames are playing tonight against the San Jose Sharks (remember them?). A lot of the staff and some of the traveling media will be attending the game.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Road Trip, Day 6: Orange & Blue vs. Copper & Blue

It’s cold in Edmonton and Calgary isn’t going to feel much better later tonight. Up in the press box at Rexall Place and it feels as cold up here as it does outside.

Doug Weight is out tonight with a leg injury. The Oilers are putting together a tribute for him about scoring 1,000 points in the NHL. The former Oiler captain scored 577 points with Edmonton. Weight has to be ready for it by the 14-minute TV timeout of the first period. Then in the second intermission, Sportsnet will be interviewing him. Doug is scheduled to be on MSG-Plus during the third period. It might have been easier if he just played through in the injury!

When the Oilers were announcing the starting line-ups for the Islanders, the accidentally put up a headshot of Andy MacDonald when announcing Joey MacDonald as the goalie.

The Oilers entering the ice through an oil rig is still one of the entrances in the NHL.

And if you can’t tell on TV – or if you’re not watching or listening on the radio – Edmonton fans have not forgiven Mike Comrie for leaving all those years ago.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Road Trip, Day 5: Welcome to Oil Country

The Islanders traveled to Edmonton today to begin their five-day quest through the great province of Alberta.

In a rare move, the team stayed over in San Jose last night. With the built in off-day to the schedule after playing tough back-to-back games, there was little reason to rush out of San Jose just to fly for three hours and then lose an hour on the clock by going from Pacific Time to Mountain Time. By the time the team would have checked into the hotel and settled in, it would have been close to 4:00 AM.

Nothing new to report on the team today. The team will be back on the ice for their traditional 11:30 morning skate at Rexall Place tomorrow morning.

We traveled about another 1,750 miles today.

Total distance traveled so far: 4,960 miles.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Road Trip, Day 4: In San Jose

We go to the hotel last night in San Jose at around 1:15 AM local time. The city has a curfew for the local airport, which we missed by a while, so we had to land in Oakland. That added an extra 45 minutes to our journey. The bus getting lost on the way to hotel added another 10 minutes or so.

The only players who skated this morning at the Shark Tank were the ones who didn’t play last night – Jon Sim, Joey MacDonald, Radek Martinek and Frans Nielsen.

No word on the line-up for tonight. The team will get together as a full unit for the first time today when they get to the rink in 30 minutes or so.

We traveled another 710 miles last night to the west coast.

Total miles traveled so far: 3,210.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Road Trip, Day 3: This is Westgate

Greg Logan posted his thoughts on the Glendale, AZ WestGate City Center development project this afternoon and (for once!) I wholeheartedly agree with him.

In case you don’t know what Westgate is, here’s a quick explanation:

The Coyotes have a beautiful five-year old arena, which for the first three years was in the middle of very little. Now literally just steps away from the entrance of the arena, there’s a shopping, food and housing center that screams “Lighthouse”.

There are over a dozen sit-down and fast-food restaurants along with plethora of retail shops. There’s also an awesome double water-feature/fountain. Also within a quick two- minute walk from both the arena and Westgate is a Renaissance AAA four diamond hotel & spa. The University of Phoenix football stadium is also right next door.

The bottom line is that there’s a destination place for people to go to not only before a game, but seven days a week in an area that doesn’t have too much else around.

With that said, you can't tell me something like this wouldn't be great on Long Island... On New Years Eve, this place was buzzing. All the restaurants and bars were packed and the live band they had in the center of it all was great.

Tonight -- on a game night -- Coyotes fans were enjoying dinner and the great weather down here before going in. The place wasn't overly crowded, but the game isn't sold out. If there was another few thoughands fans at the game, Westgate would have been jammed packed tonight.

Here are some photos I took today and tonight of Westgate. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Road Trip, Day 2: Western Swing: Travel to Phoenix & Happy New Years

Right after the home game yesterday afternoon/evening, we flew out west to Phoenix. Scheduled to take off at 6:00 from Farmingdale’s Republic Airport, we took off 65 minutes late at 7:05 Eastern Standard Time due to the weather.

The flight from Long Island to Phoenix usually takes five hours on one shot. But with strong headwinds that the plane had to fight through, we had to refuel in Kansas City which took about 30-45 minutes.

On the plane, most everyone celebrated the Eastern Standard Time New Years, although we were well into the Central Time Zone by then – but who’s counting. Then there was some who also celebrated the Central Standard Time New Years, although once again we were well into the Mountain Time Zone.

Since Arizona doesn’t partake in Daylight’s Saving Time, we’re currently two hours behind Long Island.

We finally landed at 11:30 PM local time. Got off the plane and left the airport by 11:45 PM. We were 10 minutes away from the hotel when New Years struck in Arizona.

Last season the team was someone over Washington, DC when the New Year was rung in as we were coming home from a game in Carolina.

Last night, we traveled approximately 2,500 miles.

I’ll keep track of the journey this week.