Friday, March 21, 2008
This may be a great group of people here now and the foundation for something moving forward but nice guys finish last as the current Islander team had some fun with Jason Blake as Mark Zwolinski tells us in the Star erecting a mock plaque for him on the Islanders new wall of fame here and Tim Wharnsby in the Globe & Mail here with a sign that said he is a former forty goal scorer that gave him a good laugh.
Both Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake could have failed here this season as they did in 2005-06, that has to be written going into this.
Blake could simply have lost his ability to finish and that might have happened here while Yashin may just be a player who only plays hard for a select amount of games and with age cannot do what he used to do in his twenties without other world class players to help him.
I also cannot debate the merits of not paying Blake that kind of money in that long a contract or walking away from Alexei Yashin which seemed more about not being a quick enough healer for Ted Nolan or much of a talker to the media which won him no popularity contest with the media or public.
Having written that Islanders missed Yashin's world class shot/offensive ability, his strength on the puck in the offensive zone and Blake's ability to carry the puck on a team of players who cannot carry the puck.
On this team the veterans have been a disappointment and underachieved all season statistically. A very good case can be made many nights Bergenehim and Comeau have outworked them and that is completely unacceptable on a team supposedly based on grit, character and heart which seems why Yashin was bought out even though he likely will outscore the entire roster based on his final season where he played hurt and missed significant time with his knee injury.
Jason Blake was the hardest worker every night when he put on an Islander uniform and always did something to get his team going and that has been missing here also.
Blake is still one of the league leaders in shots, but what he did here in handling the puck gave other players room to get in position that on this years team they do not have. It's a skill that clearly is lacking on the Islander roster today and one that fits the Islanders like no other team in the NHL.
Richard Park is never going to fill that role no matter how much he's played as a top six forward as he cannot score and no matter how hard he works
It's also more than fair to say no one on this roster has a shot like Alexei Yashin. Not Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin or Miroslav Satan and all three this season have disappeared for even longer periods of games than Yashin with far less production.
Sometimes you have to look at things for what they are and in this case for year one Yashin and Blake's loss hurt the Islanders.
Ted Nolan said earlier these imports would be judged based on how they played in the second half and that's fair when you have a lot of players coming to a new team, he also talked about a merit system as his veterans went fourteen games with two or less goals.
They lost seven in a row, won six in a row and all season proved the only thing they were consistent at was being inconsistent unlike the 2006-07 club that did go from one game over five hundred record in late Jaunary and finish ten games over five hundred.
Sure a lot of good reasons can be given for why this team failed this year. You lose three hundred games to injury and play with that kind of schedule it's a very tough go and the same could have happened with Blake and Yashin.