Greg Logan from Newsday updated his Islander blog early Friday morning and provided some insights on Guerin, Yashin and the club with some quotes from Richard Park and Andy Hilbert on the changes.
Among the highlights:
“It will have an all-around influence on everybody from top to bottom in terms of chemistry,” veteran forward Richard Park said after a conditioning skate Thursday with several teammates and a few players from other NHL teams. “That’s a word you’ll hear a lot. We added really quality players. Every one of them brings something to the table to help us get to where we want to be.
“I’m sure a lot of fans and media were hard-pressed, wondering who was going to come in. It’s a new opportunity for the guys that have come in. Even though they’ve been around for awhile, they could play a different role, possibly a more expanded role. The bottom line is that the backbone of the organization is as strong as it’s ever been. When you have that, you’re going to have success no matter who you bring in and who leaves.”
“It’s hard to tell because we haven’t started camp, but I’ve heard great things about Billy Guerin, our newly appointed captain,” Park said. “In terms of Alexei, he was in the shadows, so to speak, that had been cast above his head for a number of years. I don’t think there’s a guy in the locker room last year that would have anything bad to say about Alexei. Things just didn’t work out; he had an injury.
“It’s not about bad-mouthing leadership in this locker room last year. The onus isn’t on one guy, and it never has been. It doesn’t matter if you have a letter on your jersey or you don’t. Everybody is a leader in their own way. If you say we’re going to have a better locker room this year, does that mean we had a bad one last year? I’m not going to say that because I was part of that locker room last year. But the guys we’ve added are very good character guys and have a lot of dignity, and we should be better off for it.”
Although Smyth was the first choice as Yashin’s replacement, Guerin’s credentials fit neatly with the Isles’ approach under Nolan. Forward Andy Hilbert said the character shown by the Isles when Yashin and DiPietro went down last season, should be enhanced by the new additions.
“When you bring a guy like Billy Guerin in, his reputation and what he’s done in the league speaks for itself,” Hilbert said. “Witter and Silly were big leaders last year. We have a great locker room. I’m just looking forward to getting to meet all the new faces. I’m a believer that chemistry in the locker room translates to the ice, and the players we brought in this year have great personalities.”
As the Isles demonstrated a year ago, preseason predictions don’t matter. It’s the chemistry in the locker room, be it combustible or coherent, that decides whether a team has the right stuff to succeed.
NYI Fan Central Comments:
Seems like Alexei Yashin get's a bad wrap from everyone but the players and the organization's media. It it was it is, he received the kind of money where he was expected to do things that were not possible given the talent around him and his own overall game. His great start and solid finish in the last ten games were critical to the club making the playoffs and it says a lot he tried to play through his knee problems where he came back early and reinjured it.
In the end Yashin was bought out because of fan and media opinion combined with another Islander coach clearly not on the same page with him. I absolutely think if this were a non-playoff team and another unproven coach were in charge who did not improve the club the coach might have taken the hit. In Nolan's case the organization has a coach who get's more out of less and got a respectable season out of Yashin, but was not part of the long-term solution for the coach and what management's new template is for the kind of player they want.
Plus long-term Mr Wang will pay less for his contract then he would have if he were here playing.
Big question already is will Islander management and the fans put the same impossible expectations on Bill Guerin at this point in his career?