4/25/10

Management Review 09-10 NY Islanders Season

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/25/2010 11:05:00 PM
Today we wrap up our review of the 2009-10 season and the full-time blog entries with a review of Head Coach Scott Gordon & General Manager Garth Snow.

Overview:
In a painfully mediocre conference, which saw the playoff cut on average drop dramatically from ninety five points/eighth seed to the final three seeds all being under ninety points, a huge opportunity was to qualify for a playoff spot was missed.

New York won only as many regulation games as they did a year ago with about two hundred fifty less man games lost to injury. Overall goals scored/allowed improved with point total which is what many media sold as improvement, but special teams were worse than a year ago with both powerplay/penalty killing dropping into the bottom five.

Third period scoring saw this team at the bottom of the league.

Head Coach Scott Gordon:
Like the individual players grades, Scott Gordon did not build a roster of smaller/less physical players, which lacked veterans who could contribute as top line forwards. He worked with what he had and changed some players positions with Comeau, Sim, Bailey, Okposo, Weight. (on more than one wing/point)

As on any other team, some players improved or had a breakthrough while others regressed. Some of that has to speak to Scott Gordon's decisions, others to how players performed individually.

Decisions that also included Comeau riding the bench so Trevor Gillies could play three minutes in Philadelphia.

In 2008-09, he did not put public pressure on his young players, even criticizing a 2002 pick in Bergenheim for being worried about his numbers, that is what good coaches do, which of course he held to with virtually all his players again this year.

Being head coach is not about winning a popularity contest with the players, the job ultimately is to win hockey games and getting the most out of the talent you have.

Moving Forward:
Unlike Ted Nolan, Gordon did not take the media bait regarding his contract toward the end of this season. Owner Charles Wang (despite management claims it does not discuss management contracts) informed the public of Gordon's contract status in an radio interview.

Are Gordon and his general manager on the same page and a team that work well together? Only they know, however Nate Thompson was the player Scott Gordon used but lost his spot to waivers while Jeff Tambellini was glued to Gordon's bench and his comments about his defenders lack of size after a to Boston sure did not seem an endorsement of Snow's trade deadline decisions.

Scott Gordon was not in the same situation as AHL counterparts like John Anderson in Atlanta or Peter DeBoer in Florida, both who had more top line veterans or older, more-developed prospects. The clock is running for the first head coach since Al Arbour who should be back for a third consecutive season to have this team not only in playoff contention but ready to take the next step and qualify.

A club that can beat the top teams, have a good record against the West should have been able to win against equal/lower teams by standings and on the road in their own division.

Many opposing coaches/players, praised how difficult the Islanders were to play against. Next year they have to beat the clubs they are supposed to win against.

Grade C
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General Manager Garth Snow:

The general manager said recently he is not satisfied with the season and that everyone who returns has to be better. This has to start with how he reconstructs a roster with some expiring contracts that were lacking in terms of size, physical players, speed and veteran scoring on far too many night's that had nothing to do with the young players.

You going to tell me Max Afinogenov (pick a struggling veteran from last summer) with his eight goals would have failed and been a mistake here as a late signing/tryout? Ok.

You going to tell me Tim Jackman or some other veterans were a better offensive fit, than Afinogenov (pick a struggling veteran) and had to be signed at the end of last March?
Not buying.

Snow also has to be held accountable for leaving his club short on defense (in terms of depth and size) after the trade deadline. Anton Klementyev came up who was sitting prior to recall and to date had not played again for Bridgeport after drafting and signing him last summer. When this club was in it's losing streaks Snow did not panic, however he did nothing in terms of a lateral move to address any weaknesses beyond Brendan Witt being placed on waivers.


Moving Forward:


With Jesseu Joensuu, Matt Martin and other players in teams system, expect part this teams changes to come from within. Having written that there are not a lot of open spots heading into July 1st with five defenders already under NHL contract and many players at the point here signed (Gervais-Hunter-Bergenheim-Tambellini-Comeau) where it may be time for a change.

Make no mistake, this is now Garth Snow's organization and he is on the hot seat with his head coach. He has made a few excellent decisions on Matt Moulson, Mark Streit and even Dylan Reese. He needs more signings like this and a few creative trades for established veterans that upgrades the overall veteran talent pool. This gm has also had his share of clunkers with Bobby Hughes, Ben Walter, Petteri Nokelainen and Rob Hennigar along with Joel Rechlicz, albeit minor league players or the past general managers former picks but par for almost all organizations.

2009-10 was a missed opportunity and like the teams uneven play, he must receive an uneven grade more than anyone because he constructed the roster.

Finally, don't tell us the Coliseum is one reason why free agents won't sign here anymore when they took front-loaded contracts to play in dumps like Joe Louis Arena, Msg and Mellon Arena.

Tell the truth which is Charles Wang and most non-corporate owners cannot afford to front load a contract and pay someone twenty/thirty million dollars over the first three seasons of that kind of contract. It's not a knock on Wang or you.

Grade C

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Stefan Ridderwall Has To Be Signed by 6/15

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/25/2010 02:22:00 AM
Did a prospect update a while back, which included who needed to be signed this summer.

Add goaltender Stefan Ridderwall to the list.

With no formal announcement by the NHL, the league did come to terms on a new transfer agreement with Sweden on 3/26 and Finland earlier according to the Hockey News.

The agreement with Finland is reportedly similar.

Details:
The new agreement with the SEL runs through the 2011-12 season and according to the deal, the NHL will compensate Elitserien teams $225,000 for players signing with an NHL club.

Players can sign before June 15 and players who’ve been drafted into the NHL the same year can sign until Aug. 15.

Players under 22 who haven’t been drafted in the first round may return to the Elitserien if they can’t make the NHL club roster with hockeyexpression here reporting the Isles lose their rights to prospect goaltender Stefan Ridderwall if they do not sign contracts with him during the summer and include speculation Timr√• of SEL could be interested.

Prior to this the same outlet (4/11/10) also reported the Isles were waiting on the conclusion of Ridderwall's playoffs for the 2006 draft pick, who passed his twenty second birthday in March.

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4/24/10

Quick Hits/Notables

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/24/2010 12:00:00 PM
Updated:

* I have no doubt Charles Wang &/or Scott Rechler would be more than happy to renovate or even replace the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County, " like those five other metropolitan-area professional franchises that opened magnificent new facilities in the past year, " if they were given hundreds of millions/over a billion in tax exemptions like New York City taxpayers were forced to do for two stadiums or Newark issuing bonds that turned its $12.5 million annual payment into a lump-sum total of $221 million for Prudential Center arena funding or PSL's & money from from the NFL/fifteen million annual loss for NJSEA at the new Meadowlands Stadium.


Nassau/TOH does not want " construction of a mini-city along Hempstead Turnpike " that is fair enough. Do what other cities did so Mr Wang &/or Mr Rechler can open magnificent new facilities for the New York Islanders, but stop telling them to do the impossible alone.
************************************************************
* Do I think John Tavares got a fair shake not being a Calder finalist? A few more games between Jimmy Howard or Matt Moulson and he may have been the 2003 pick as a finalist.

It's not a contest only between last summers draft class. A year ago produced three later round picks as finalist over several seasons. John Tavares was not selected once for the award all season nor did he merit it on a month to month basis, so I don't believe it's unfair he was not among the finalist.

Having written that I'm not a fan of the media voting on anything these days given the Isles media coverage.
**************************************************************
* The media did not come out in force to cover the Devils early playoff games but they sure came out when it was all over with the Flyers winning the series four games to one to bury them.

A few media seemed to enjoy themselves a little too much knocking the Devils from what I read after their accomplishments. What folks forget about their record was they built it early with a lot of players out, after that this was a five-hundred team for most of the second half.

Fourteen days ago they beat the New York Islanders 7-1 and then beat Buffalo who pulled their goalie late in a tied game because they needed a regulation win.

Want to claim they played Atlanta-Kovalchuk hockey and that was why they lost? Not buying. Flyers made a few more plays and their size helped them, Parise was working as hard as ever. Of course they should be frustrated top to bottom.

You play this series a week from now and Boucher is likely letting in soft goals from all over the ice and it's a different series. Philadelphia's streaks and slumps are legendary and this was one of their streaks after they their goaltenders were letting in soft goals to Blake Comeau. Carcillo, Asham, Ian Laperriere, making big plays? High marks to the Flyers on winning the series, however the career track record says that is not going to last.

As for New Jersey, will those now predicting their demise ever learn? They only finished second in the Eastern Conference and until they have a poor eighty two game season they are the team to beat in this division with Pittsburgh. Do they have a record now for not being a good playoff team? Fair enough.

Do I expect them to lose Kovalchuk, Martin and still be at the top of the East around December next season? Absolutely.
*******************************************************************
Too bad the Hershey Bears did not call up Michal Neuvirth to Washington or the Sound Tigers may have still been playing Hershey with Braden Holtby looking like Jose Theodore.

******************************************************************
Such parity in the NHL these days, I'm very happy for Miroslav Satan after all the things written about him after leaving Buffalo along with Sutton/Campoli, who had a lot of praise for Bill Guerin here.

Interesting watching Sutton go for an overtime big hit and miss his man creating an odd-man rush.

Virtually no series where any playoff result can absolutely be called a huge upset anymore in this version of the NHL.
*******************************************************************
Kevin Poulin VictoriaVille lost 6-1 on Friday and trail their playoff series 3-1 with game five Saturday. All other Islander prospects in CHL have been eliminated with Travis Hamonic/Wheat Kings, Casey Cizkas, St Michaels Majors.
*******************************************************
Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio from Thursday had updates which included some exit interview which did/did not take place with some veterans, but had an updated list of all players contract status for Bridgeport and New York.
*******************************************************

I see one more blog update grading management before going back to twitter format.

I have not made a decision yet on full blog entries for the World Championships or just adding a section.

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4/23/10

Newsday Accused of Censoring Sports Pages

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/23/2010 06:43:00 PM
Nbcnewyork.com: Josh Alper reports of more problems in sports coverage censorship at Newsday, links to a report in the New York Observer by John Koblin about Wallace Matthew's leaving the paper to join Espn New York.

Mr Matthews pulls no punches, as he tells his side of why he left and what he claims was going on regarding sports content reporting under sports editor Hank Winnicki and new editor (current website designer) Debbie Krenek at Charles/James Dolan's newspaper, with several anonymous quotes from current Newsday employees.


NYIFC Comments:

Talk about a super-bowl of conflicts/double-standards/censorship.

First, you need a scorecard to identify the players.

1. NBC Newyork is the same NBC that includes sports chairman Dick Ebersol, who with Sam Flood are/were making hockey television decisions. Mr Ebersol, never shy about involving himself in anything NBC-related beyond sports here who's network is a former part owner of Msg according to the New York Times.

2. NBC/Comcast/Flyers owner Ed Snider are attempting a merger, his Flyers were selected last summer out of nowhere to participate in last year's NHL outdoor game which saw a ten percent decline in ratings Sports Business Journal and only placed third in the Philadelphia market.

3. Wallace Matthews, who surfaced every few years to play instant Isles expert and take a few digs at the team, joined Espn New York. What's important to remember about Matthews was he never criticized (or mentioned) his new employer's teams in their paper and now he's complaining he was having his criticism edited/muted and blaming the Dolan's?

Matthews March 6th article on the Isles (during time he felt he was being phased out) included fan comments critical of the team did receive the Newsday/Winnicki/Krenek seal of approval for publication.

4. Former Daily News sports editor Leon Carter, who under his tenure Isles coverage declined dramatically (while false radio ads from his paper claimed his sports department covered all the local teams) was criticized a few years ago by guess who? here.

5. NBC writer, Josh Alper in his bio writes he is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse. This is the same fringe outlet which currently sponsors our former Islander-team sponsored blogger, who on days when he is not ripping Islander management or breaking news about internal team business is at Msg lobbing softballs at the Rangers/Garden management completely muted of any criticism.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Sadly, it does speak to the current level of coverage the New York Islanders receive from this paper and how their national perception is influenced across North America along with a few other items.

When Tsn/Espn do articles they usually link to a report from this paper.

Too bad our fans and team are caught squarely in the middle.

Ownership has one major local paper to market it's team and report on Lighthouse updates across New York. The Islanders upper management have created some of their own New York media perception damage with their short-sighted, Long Island only campaign. This approach neglecting it's fan base across the New York City market, despite outreach and team events scheduled inside the city limits, makes little sense.

What's very unfortunate is none of these articles that concentrated on Msg teams in Newsday mentioned the coverage standards of the New York Islanders. You remember them, the local home team?

A year ago Greg Logan ripped the club early and often for working within league mandated guidelines regarding injuries among countless issues. This year they hired a former intern as it's full-time beatwriter, the paper did report about anonymous quotes critical from a few players, last month which was never reported on Msg teams.

Do you think the negative fan comments approved in Matthews article on the Isles would be permitted and printed about the Garden's teams?

The question from day one was would there be sports coverage double-standards under Cablevision owned Newsday.

The people working at this paper have made it clear that answer is yes.

Friday, this was the paper sending the Ranger beatwriter to ask Gary Bettman about the Lighthouse project and then take the role of political reporter, interviewing TOH officials about the status of the project.

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Forwards Review Pt 2: 09-10 NY Islanders Season

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/23/2010 12:00:00 PM
Today we wrap up the review of the forwards.

Forwards Pt II:
Richard Park:
Park, as always gave all he had over a sixty minute game.

His speed and ability to carry the puck/create chances along with his hard work always stands out and there will be a small handful of games he will carry the club when he is scoring. Having written this the penalty kill struggled badly and this is a big part of his role here. This team is over-matched in the size/physical department, he is not going to produce big offensive numbers over eighty two games.

Scott Gordon fell into the same trap, Ted Nolan did in the past by giving him prime offensive opportunities when Park scored some goals. Who can blame them when no one else is scoring or carrying the puck/creating chances? When Park is scoring for brief stretches he earns more chances and does pick up the entire team, but the long stretches where he struggles on offense are his career trend.

Gordon, to his credit dialed back his offensive role early this season but had him out on some powerplays, his offensive struggles for a good part of the season were a big part of his minus nine rating.

Moving Forward:
Park enters this summer as an UFA and a tough call for management because no doubt he is a respected leader. This team needs to become bigger, with more offensive upside and despite his versatility to play all three forward positions and carry the puck, there are too many prospects/veteran free agents with more potential offensive upside.

Park signed here as a camp tryout player during Sean Bergenheim's contract problems, his huge goals in Philadelphia and New Jersey the final weekend three years ago were a huge part of this team making the playoffs.

I see his time in New York ending, it could be a gamble that fails because his ability to move the puck is lacking here, but a risk that needs to be taken.

Grade C+

Doug Weight:
I felt it was a mistake to resign Weight last summer. I'm not in the lockeroom so for me to write about that his leadership ability makes no sense. I can only write about what I see during games. No doubt he is respected by Tavares, Moulson and the players on the team by their quoted comments.

On the ice, I saw an injured player, who had been hurt basically from December of the previous year, who was a non-factor on a team that needed a twenty goal veteran who could move the puck and provide some big goals. His powerplay passing skills were visible, was it worth a defender with a possible offensive upside watching for him to play that role when he could play?

Moving Forward:
Doug Weight is a career center who needed to change position, that alone even if he were healthy and not approaching forty is a big problem.

Weight says he wants to play next season and he hopes it is here but I cannot see him being given a roster spot and absolutely not as a top three center or forward.

For Garth Snow it seems best to thank him and move on. His veterans need to score twenty goals and have the speed/skills/size to set up these young players and stand up physically when needed which he did do his first season.

These are intangibles beyond Doug Weight's abilities at this stage in his career.

Grade Incomplete.

Tim Jackman:
Jackman showed a ton of guts to come back from having his orbital bone broken after being mugged by Carkner and two other Ottawa Senators, his skating is not bad along with his middle-weight fighting ability, however his impact is minimal on games and far too many nights at best you can hope for is an even shift.

He created more chances a year ago offensively and at rare times has these shifts where he was flying and creating chances, but that's far more the exception. Jackman is not going to antagonize the opposition into many penalties or throw the kind of hits that draw many powerplays to turn a game around.

Scott Gordon would put him on the ice to set the tone after goals against or to start periods, but if most shifts at best are even what tone is being set?

How many times did we hear before games, the Isles are going to have to weather x team's offense/momentum in the opening ten minutes coming off a bad game? Can you say that for this team starting games or periods with Jackman that the other teams had to weather the Isles attack early with him on the ice?

Moving Forward:
Tim Jackman enters this summer as a pending UFA.

On a roster lacking in players who can produce or who can impact a game in the physical department on a regular basis it seemed a mistake to resign Jackman so quickly at the end of last season. He was a twenty goal AHL player so he does have the ability/hands to score goals, but if his signing was based upon a step up in production this season that did not happen.

No doubt Jackman is a character player, but he is not the right fit for this team because he cannot score enough on a team desperately needing goals who turn games in the Isles favor with his physical play.

Grade C


Trent Hunter:

I feel like I have been writing the same season ending review now for three seasons with Trent Hunter, after the third one I'm not going to be generous with my patience or grade.

He has stretches where it seems he is past his injuries and we will finally see the consistent offensive player we saw in 03-04, but it's never sustained and despite his positive impact in so many other areas on this team the physical/scoring/skating game just are not nearly consistent enough.

He also simply cannot stay healthy and it's obvious he does play hurt a lot of the time. The ability to fight off players for goals/draw penalties with his power skating or that extra step with quick moves off the boards seem to be gone for good.

He will dive in front of any shot to help his team, he is giving all he has but his impact in games dropped again this year and on a club needing his veteran offense desperately. He can play defense which speaks to his plus three rating, he still has a slap-shot, but cannot seem to release it on the fly anymore.

Moving Forward:
Trent Hunter is signed for the next three years at a bargain 2m contract, he took less than market value at the time so he does have value on the trade market. On a club lacking in physical players, veteran scoring it may well be time for Garth Snow to see if he can improve his roster by trading Hunter, who may well need a fresh start or more veterans around him.

Grade D

Jon Sim:
Sim signed here off back to back seventeen goal seasons for Atlanta, an injury that ended his first year and waivers twice before a demotion ended his second NHL season.

To Sim's credit he kept working and to Garth Snow/Scott Gordon's credit he was allowed to earn back a spot which started how he played for Bridgeport.

Like his production, he was all over the place. Left wing/right wing, on the top two lines or the fourth line, you never knew where Sim would play. This year his production was acceptable, unlike many past goals on outside shots created a lot of goals jamming the crease. Sim tried to play the antagonist role with a hundred twenty eight minutes in penalties for his teammates and did whatever was asked.

Is he the correct player to put on the wing of a Rob Schemp, who wants to make a skilled open ice play to setup a winger vs Sim who grinds it out? ?

Answer to me would be no.

Moving Forward:
Sim enters this summer as an UFA.

Nothing illustrated this teams physical/size problems better last season than watching Sim looking up, trying to push bigger players around during scrums he was over-matched badly when two other players joined in for the opposition who also towered over him. He's a solid role player on a team with far too many similar veterans and maybe a good fourth line fit if he were resigned, but with so many prospects, not give them a chance?

It's time to give someone else, younger or a veteran UFA with better offensive upside and size an opportunity in his spot.

Grade C

Jesse Joensuu/Trevor Gillies:
Joensuu had eleven games here to make an impact with his size and despite one goal in brutal loss to Florida was not a big factor where he could have pushed someone out of a spot, his plus four no doubt is a positive.

Gillies was resigned for next year. I would guess it's a two-way contract where he will make his cameo's with Joel Rechlicz entering the final season of his three year contract, but little else. His career resume and brief time here are clear he cannot take a regular shift.

No grade.





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4/22/10

Forwards Review Pt I: 09-10 NY Islanders Season

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/22/2010 12:33:00 AM
Today NYIFC continues it's New York Islanders 2009-10 season review with Pt I on the forwards.

Overall:
As with the defenders for a team with so many goals allowed/shots against which includes a lot of poor special teams play ranked at the bottom of the league, some high individual grades had to be given out based strictly on production.

I cannot grade an individual on a lack of size, speed or skill or the construction of the roster around an individual player's performance.

Forwards:
John Tavares:
John Tavares came out of juniors, scored twenty four goals with no established first or second line veteran offensive talents on a team that had no twenty goal scorers a year ago so how can anyone complain, despite not being selected as a Calder finalist?

His transition/defensive game needs to gain NHL experience and a few times he got caught watching plays, but his hands were as advertised along with his ability in front of the opposing goal. He finished his season ok, started great and struggled badly in the middle. No doubt he took far too many big hits and looked to be playing hurt at times, but this is all part of his development.
Grade B+

Kyle Okposo:
Was thrilled with Okposo's start to the season where he had some huge goals and looked dominating, but his game faded for long stretches also that seemed to go beyond numbers which may have been about flu but only Okposo knows this. His impact on games far too many nights was that of a negative player at five on five, it seemed he tried to do too many one on one moves and his physical game for his size needs to be developed. I'm not a fan of him being a left wing point on powerplays for a team with no first line right wing, but that is where Scott Gordon has used him while Doug Weight was out. There were also stretches where he looked fantastic and carried the club.

Like Tavares on a team with no established veterans talents who can score, it's an acceptable nineteen goals at this stage of his development, but his night to night game was lacking for stretches that went far too long.
Grade C-

Matt Moulson:
Matt Moulson scored thirty goals coming out of the AHL, was only a minus one on a team near the bottom of most NHL team stats again with no first or second established veteran talents. He got into high traffic spots, deflected pucks like Mark Parrish a decade ago and was a huge impact player for a club that should have made playoffs alone based on his unexpected contribution. He showed excellent instincts in all three zones and knew where to be on the ice to make up for speed or an great shot.


Moving Forward:

Hopefully a contract for this restricted free agent that keeps him past next year and more of the same. As the younger players progress/scoring veterans are added he should do ever more to help the club win games that go beyond numbers.
Grade A+


Josh Bailey:

Bailey finished + 5 in seventy three games, that's is a very impressive number for a player his age where coaches want players to learn the defensive game first.

I was not a big fan of trading down to draft Josh Bailey so he could play a year at center, struggle badly at times, only to start year two as a center and then be moved away from the position you drafted him to play. Scott Gordon did it and for the most part his plus/minus improved until down the stretch when he was switched back to center with Rob Schremp's injury, during that time his plus minus did struggle again in some games.

For his age and at this stage of development, +5 on a team at the bottom of most league stats is great number. The sixteen goals and thirty five points come second but the skills are obviously there and he adjusted well to the speed of this level in his second full season.

With Tavares, Nielsen healthy down the middle and if Rob Schremp has a roster spot, what position does Bailey start next season after being a left wing?
Grade A

Rob Schremp:
Overall 09-10 was an uneven season for Rob Schremp after being claimed off waivers from Edmonton. Having written that this was the season he finally broke through to the NHL, a team showed confidence in him and he demonstrated he could play at this level. If you recall he started here on wing, struggled and Scott Gordon told the media he had to play center to play here, which was very out of character for this coach. Frans Nielsen's injury gave him that chance, after he got comfortable as a center, he showed some confidence and made some very nice plays that led to goals.

His best goal was not the highlight goal, but the ones later in the season he crossed the offensive blue line, delayed and found his wingers cutting to middle for great chances that led to goals.

On defense he was a -4, that is an acceptable number given his late season production before his season-ending injury.

Moving Forward:
Rob Schremp is twenty four and a restricted free agent. One problem is the center position here has three players in Tavares, Bailey and Nielsen unless you plan on making Bailey a full time left wing. Another problem is very obvious on a roster painfully lacking in size vs so many other NHL teams. The signs are there he can play a standout offensive game and in a league with shootouts, he is a big asset.

Tough call for Garth Snow and Scott Gordon, I would guess he is resigned because scoring hands/offensive skills on this roster are lacking.

As a winger/early season: Incomplete
As a center C+
Overall C+

Frans Nielsen:
What can I write that was not written in several blog entries on Frans Nielsen this season? He has the defensive game, his offensive game at his age needed to give this team more. No doubt he still had knee issues that kept him out of last seasons World Championships and kept him out of the lineup to start the season, however he played seventy six games. For his size he plays as hard as he possibly can in the physical department. His offensive game come shootout time is money for a club that did not win often in regulation.


Moving Forward:

Nielsen has two years left on his contract. Scott Gordon loves his overall game and it's easy to see why because he is a smart player with excellent defensive ability and plenty of potential upside who gives all he has every night.

Grade C+

Blake Comeau:
Comeau is listed as 6/1 207lbs on the club's website, he said he lost weight and got faster and it helped him recently.

What I do know is what I wrote several times, on February 10th he had six goals, eight assist and was a healthy scratch so Trevor Gillies could play three minutes in Philadelphia. He started making some good plays that led to goals along with some terrible goals he was credited with off shots that had to be stopped. I have written how he was brought up as a left wing, switched to right wing at times under Nolan and Gordon, he got chances at both wings this season but it was obvious that plan has been to make his a right wing.

I was more impressed with reads he made or passes he made with Tavares late in the season as a right wing that led to quality goals he was given assists on.

Moving Forward:
Comeau is signed for next season and his defensive game improved at even strength from a year ago, Comeau finished this season next to John Tavares before his injury and despite his 2004 draft age is still a very young twenty four who finally played one full season here. Having written this the clock no doubt here is running, more was expected overall and when Scott Gordon needed a win in Philadelphia, Comeau was the odd-man out.

Comeau has displayed an ability to hit and a nasty edge at times, but again on a small roster he is not a standout physical player, he has to produce next season to keep his spot.

Grade C-

Sean Bergenheim:
After eighteen goals a year ago where it looked like he was finally on the same page with Scott Gordon after struggling, this year they did not look on the same page at all with a lot of games scratched or him moved to a fourth line. Scott Gordon put him on the top two lines and gave him an acceptable chance on several occasions.

Too many past blog entries where I'm repeating same things you can read back on.

Moving Forward:
Bergenheim enters this summer as a RFA, with an injury that ended his season which looked terrible. I don't see him leaving North America or not being qualified and after his past experiences which cost him a full year, I see a trade as possible here because he will have value on the market with his work ethic and potential.

Overall same player I saw when he was wearing orange playing for Steve Stirling long ago and that's not enough. He gives all he has, takes bad offensive zone penalties, has an edge to his game this fan loves to watch and when on his game creates chances that are excellent, however his offensive struggles and uneven play can no longer be placed on the coach.

Grade D

Jeff Tambellini:
Go to earlier blog entries for more. As strange as Scott Gordon's comments on Yann Danis a year ago after one or two starts, his usage of Tambellini is on the same level.

The silence from Scott Gordon on Jeff Tambellini were beyond deafening. All I know is he was retained while Gordon favorite, Nate Thompson was lost to waivers. There was no two-week conditioning stint for Tambellini this year nor should there have been.

No idea what Scott Gordon did not see from him after a strong start where he was scoring the kinds of goals this roster lacks, showing great hands that made him stand out over other players because he was getting to high scoring areas. I did not see a terrible defensive game or a player not working in the corners who did not push back.

Just seemed the odd-man out, to be fair he had some infrequent chances with Tavares.

Moving Forward:
If Scott Gordon is not going to play him as a pending RFA with a lot of left wings signed or in the system waiting for a chance, why even qualify him unless you want some kind of return? In the past you could see reasons to put him on the bench, but not this year and not because he scored seven goals, he did fight through checks to make plays.

My impression is he will get another chance with an NHL team with some size, who will put him with some bigger veteran wings who can skate and his hands/shot are going to beat a lot of NHL goaltenders. He will win enough shootouts to give him value to someone.

How many players on this team scored the two powerplay goals, he scored against Montreal this season or even capable of displaying such hands? The team was at the bottom of the NHL in powerplays, why was he not given a regular chance with that shot. I still have visions of Richard Park fumbling the puck during an early-season five on three powerplay against Boston, in a contest the Bruins came back down three goals because Scott Gordon's powerplay could not put the game away in the first period.

Grade: When he played on a regular basis B
Otherwise: Incomplete

Part II Friday.

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4/21/10

Islander News Articles 4/22

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/21/2010 08:33:00 PM
OHL.com: Casey Cizikas had a goal/assist/-1 rating in Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 4-2 loss Wednesday to Barrie Colts, who was selected as second star of game.

Barrie Colts leads best of seven 3-1.
************************************************
Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio's recap of game five win by Hershey Bears 4-1 Wednesday with blog entries. Patroit-News: Tim Leone's coverage/blog entries of Bears series clinching win. Lebanon Daily News on Bears game five win at Giant Center, Wednesday where Bridgeport was credited with only seven shots on goal.


NYIFC Comments:

My thanks to everyone who followed the games on twitter or read the live game updates from NYIFC. I had a good time and listened to all five games.

Congratulations to the Hershey Bears.

Eight skaters who played for New York participated in game five for Bridgeport with several others signed by Garth Snow in the organization. This series was something I was interested in following and enjoyed opening this blog back up to full daily entries during the games.

Readers will see a 4-1 series win for the Bears (which both respective beat writers projected) however that would not be accurate at all to how things played out on the ice.

Hershey played one sixty minute game in game five and were long overdue holding Bridgeport to seven shots.

As dominating as the Bears were in spurts during games 1-4, they were even or outplayed arguably ten out of twelve periods before Wednesday.

To pull an upset against a team with Hershey's fantastic record and outstanding talent (which many were calling the best in league history) you have to get some calls/breaks and you have to make your own breaks. You must score some tough goals in front of other goalie and the powerplay must produce.

End of cliches. Bridgeport had Hershey down and out in game one, but lost not only a third period lead in that game, but another in game two which would have put a ton of pressure on the defending champs.

Powerplay goals/down-low with man advantage or at even strength, did not happen nearly enough in this series for the Sound Tigers which was a huge factor. Braden Holtby in game four was beat by Andrew MacDonald, Robin Figren full wind-up shots from outside but for the most part Bridgeport could not get goals in front of their net and not past Michal Neuvirth.

What decided series?
Without a doubt, game one and two, third period/overtime.

Leads in third period you have to close out, even if you cue images of Scott Gordon walking away from Rob Carlin. They did not get the break on the obvious high stick call in game one and they could not hold the lead again in game two where Nate Lawson got hurt and Scott Munroe had to come in cold.

Game three, second period Bears outstanding talent just forced Bridgeport into countless turnovers and six goals in one period in a contest Bridgeport was taking play at Bears over the first twenty four minutes. To Sound Tigers credit they played a solid third period that day, outscoring the Bears 2-1 with the game decided and came out dominating game four over the first two periods, winning 4-1.

Problem even that day was most/all of Bridgeport's goal came from the outside/angles or off goals from Braden Holtby, who did not play very well for the Bears in either of his starts.

The hard work was there in this series for Bridgeport and the upset was in the making. They could not get to Bears net often enough to beat their top goaltender in Michal Neuwirth, the penalty killing was shutting down the Bears. Munroe-Lawson played well and Koskinen closed out game three and played well in game four.

Game five was finally the night the Bears were due to play a complete game, they absolutely dominated on every level.

It will go down as a 4-1 series win for Hershey, however they dodged a major bullet in the opening round, despite their exceptional talent.

For Bridgeport they qualified for the playoffs, had to work very hard to earn a spot the final weekend and will return for their tenth season. A lot of new players at the end with recently signed Rhett Rakhshani, Michael Davies and Mikko Koskinen appeared in their lineup during this series.

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Hershey 4, Bridgeport 1 FINAL

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/21/2010 04:28:00 PM
Hershey Bears win series 4-1.

1. HER Alzner, (1) (Collins, Wilson), 3:25
1. HER Miskovic, (1) (Kane, Joudrey), 9:29
1. BRI Reese, (1) (Mauldin, Reich), 12:42 (SH)
1. HER Wilson, (2) , 14:51
2. HER Giroux, (6) (Bourque, Aucoin), 1:32 (PP)
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Michal Neuvirth vs Mikko Koskinen in goal.

I will be doing some twitter updates during the game along with updating the boxscore here. The audio/video/live box-score links are above.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio reports Mikko Koskinen will start game five tonight for Bridgeport in Hershey against the Bears.

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4/20/10

Islander News Articles 4/21

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/20/2010 11:28:00 PM
Telegraph-Journal: Scott Briggs reports the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal series Tuesday night, defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 6-3, with Islander prospect Kevin Poulin registering forty three saves.

The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with games four and five in Victoriaville, Friday and Saturday.

WHL.com: Reports Travis Hamonic was -2, with no points in Calgary's 6-3 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings Tuesday.

St Michael's Majors, with Casey Cizikas plays it's next game against Barrie Colts Wednesday.
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Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio has a feature article on forward Greg Mauldin with additional blog entries which includes links to Patroit-News with latest on Hershey Bears.


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Quick Hits/Notables

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/20/2010 06:29:00 PM
For the most part a quiet day on the news front (beyond Travis Hamonic being named player of week in WHL) regarding the Islanders or the Bridgeport playoffs vs Hershey, so I let the sidebars do the updates.

Bears coach, Mark French will likely start goaltender Michal Neuvirth in goal for game five.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio had an interview with Mikko Koskinen, who could be Jack Capuano's stater.
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THN.com: Adam Proteau in criticizing Roberto Luongo's poor play and long contract, could not help including what he writes is Rick DiPietro’s " boondoggle of a 15-year deal with the Islanders, might soon serve as a cautionary tale to other NHL general managers ".

NYIFC Comments:
DiPietro's contract might " soon " serve as a cautionary tale? He signed the contract in September 2006 and since then owners are giving these contract out front loaded?

In the past I was very critical of Adam Proteau's coverage, I could care less that he is critical of Roberto Luongo or his play in goal for the Canucks. What a lot of folks like Mr Proteau don't get or are too lazy to research is Rick DiPietro did not receive a front-loaded contract from the Islanders as Luongo did from Vancouver.

Luongo will be paid ten million dollars next season here. What Mr Proteau fails to report are subsequent players were signed to the same kind of contract as Luongo which the league is investigating here.

These are the players that Mr Proteau should be making his comparisons with because they all received front-loaded contracts, not DiPietro.

Rick DiPietro's contract pays him a straight 4.5 million dollars each year until it ends. Roberto Luongo in 2010-11 will make two plus years of what DiPietro will receive.

Why is it so hard for writers like Mr Proteau to bring up DiPietro but fail to explain the significant contractual differences when article after article tells us these deals are front-loaded and far different?

Or does he just see this as the latest opportunity to take another kick at the Islanders goaltender?

Lot's of NHL players making big money/front-loaded contracts struggling in this league to be written about, meanwhile EspnChicago is out selling the Blackhawks Marian Hossa with his 12-year, $62.8 million contract, who has no points so far in two home games against Nashville.
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Msg tonight: Golden Gloves Boxing repeats.
Msg+ tonight: Devils playoff hockey.

Let's keep those Devil playoff ratings as low as possible with media coverage. Is anyone ever going to break down the drastic differences are as to what an Msg/Msg2/Msg+ or Msg+2 appearances does for a local ratings?

This is why the Rangers are kicked to Msg2/+ for the Msg franchise team in the Knicks (forget standings/record) and the Isles bumped (on twenty four hours notice) for the Rangers.

It should be very easy to do an article with the rating breakdown/disparity for each station for every team and game played, it just requires a little extra work.
***************************************************
Newark Star Ledger via NY Times: report Gannett New Jersey newspapers are using a New Jersey Devils team employee, not an employee of the Newspaper to write game articles to improve coverage in this area of New Jersey for the club.

NYIFC Comments:
Interesting, and a good idea by the Devils and these papers to increase coverage/interest/ticket sales while providing print space but some double-talk by the editor in saying " If the Devils were involved in a serious controversy, the papers would not publish an article about it supplied by the team " which begs the question isn't all coverage serious?

The New York Islanders cannot get the professional media from the city papers to blog or cover most of the games, a few years ago I suggested the club pay for the writers room/board and let them travel with the club in exchange for coverage space.

Islander media team employees are in short supply as is space in the Daily News, Post and Times and these papers are not Gannett/New Jersey family of papers, however it could pressure the clubs to produce writers as more and more hockey coverage is reduced by newspaper sports editors.

This could also mean Cablevision-owned Newsday would respond by eliminating all New York Islander coverage.
***************************************************
Quick clarification on last night's entry from some e-mails I have received.

1. I am not an insider in any way and NYIFC is an amateur fan blog, nothing more.

If you read my entry and now consider this site some kind of insider resource you would be completely mistaken. My information/view point are based on what has been reported over several years in newspapers by the professional media.

2. Only Charles Wang and Scott Rechler know where they stand in terms of their business relationship, my comments/speculation had to include both countless times which is why it read Wang/Rechler.

Charles Wang is the only reported owner of the New York Islanders which is the only time I could separate them in what was written.

It is not my business or anyone's whether these men continue to work together, if it's a condition of the Memorandum of Understanding that named them co-developers for this project to move forward that they must work together we will have our answer in due time to this question.

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4/19/10

Bill Of Rights On Lighthouse & New York Islanders

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/19/2010 06:36:00 PM
NYIFC was/is a hockey blog and the primary focus is always the team and the games being played. Enough was written on The Lighthouse Project when blog was working fulltime along with tons of articles and a lot of things written moving forward before last summer.

Now that the season is over and there is some full-time blogging going on here albeit temporarily, it's time to address some things because there have been major changes and a few points I would like to make.

Call it a Bill of Rights, a reality check for some folks or some very straight writing on this subject.
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1. This project and what the New York Islanders proud history represent are not reality television where you are entitled to updates on negotiations or some sideshow in the newspapers every time someone throws out a rumor. You are entitled to attend hockey games and read what the developers presented about the project to the public at their focus meetings or the public hearings, that's it.

2. Charles Wang and most non-corporate hockey owners cannot throw out a ton of front loaded contracts in July, lose fifty plus million a year and rebuild Nassau County's Coliseum for free. Msg almost closed it's doors before it got tax exemptions/low cost electricity and the Devils new Prudential Center was paid for in large part by Newark.

2B. You are not dealing in reality if the only answer you have to every New York Islander problem is Wang should spend/lose more money. If the only response to this is that's not your problem and you will not attend or support the club this is something you have every right to do.

Chris Dey went the Buffalo Sabres route going simulcast/latest limited radio stations while Devils WFAN games are on internet or overflow stations most games, life goes on and money did have to be saved somewhere like unqualified amateur's doing game reports on the team website to supplant media professionals. No one noticed Utah added a second ECHL affiliate this year either.

2C. Reality is TOH is not giving Wang/Rechler the kind of tax exemptions the Yankees got to go spend hundreds of millions on ballplayers the same week they were in court last January demanding an additional three hundred million for their tax payer bonded stadium NY Times the public subsidized to pay for free agents.


Bottom line is if this project were approved tomorrow in full:


If Wang and Rechler had a financial institution in this recession willing to finance their reported 3.7 billion needed for this project (which always costs more), if it were built within it's estimated ten years (always longer), if it were completely leased/rented from day one (another miracle),Charles Wang with the money he would have to pay back for the project including all he has lost owning the Islanders for a decade and massive salaries he will have to pay out moving forward over the next ten years will not see a dime of profit over two life times.

Meanwhile there are actual fans, media writing/speculating about Charles Wang doing all this for the money?

3. The Lighthouse is Charles Wang and Scott Rechler's project. It is not only about one individual or a hockey team. Folks throwing out Brooklyn, Queens and starting over like Wang is in this by himself or had invested nothing up to this point and can move to other places should keep in-mind both these men together paid ninety million for the Marriott Hotel next to the Coliseum and will own it regardless what happens, they have already spent millions in development of this project.

4. No one is giving Charles Wang (even if he talks Scott Rechler into development with him elsewhere) free land or a public-financed arena at Willets Point or Brooklyn to where they move in and simply start making money. There is a huge eminent domain fight at Willets Point against generational businesses and twenty nine other individuals expressed interest in the right to develop that land. You can also bet Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who got a ton of tax breaks like his Bronx counterpart, wants every taxpayer exemption penny the Yankees got for their baseball neighborhood inside a ballpark while he builds his baseball neighborhood outside the ballpark.

5. Mr Wang said he wanted to keep all negotiations out of the newspapers, when the puck dropped he did a good job of it. The TOH finally after elections ended decided to ignore Wang's request and discuss what changes they want to a point they were going to re-create the project for Wang-Rechler, plus make public a billing issue with the company they hired out of Westchester (FP Clark) vs the developers for a Long Island project, that forced Wang on television to make a few awkward comments.

6. We are entitled to absolutely nothing every single time someone throws out rumors, innuendo, gossip/so-called insiders or sources making claims about this project regardless what is reported. This is not reality television where Wang/Rechler are obligated to speak through their websites or James Dolan's paywall in Newsday.

6B. If you are in this for page views or playing amateur insider to make yourself the story, spare us all now and go away. The New York Islanders are always the story, not a bunch of self-serving people selling themselves as resources acting like they are entitled to more and will claim sources/anything for a page-view first and anything else second. New York Islanders and our fans have no time for this.
**********************************************
What is Common Knowledge:
From the Lighthouse Site:

A: The Lighthouse Development Group on 9/29 submitted its Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) during the hearing and is now waiting on its approval from the TOH.

B: On Oct. 1st Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, Charles B. Wang, and Scott Rechler announced an agreement between the County and the Lighthouse Development Group for a "sports-based transaction" and ground lease for the 77 acres at the Nassau Coliseum site. This agreement would extend the Islanders' commitment to play at the Coliseum through July 31, 2030 and provide development rights for the site once the Town board issues its approval.

NYIFC Comments:
Clarification:
There is the new sublease with Smg allowing Wang/Rechler to make money from events at Coliseum until 2015 and there is the LH agreement which would extend the Islanders' commitment to play at the Coliseum through July 31, 2030 and provide development rights for the site once the Town board issues its approval.

They are two entirely different things because the later is the future beyond 2015 with a renovated Coliseum and LH project.

That town board approval is very tricky now because Republican County Executive, Ed Mangano did not negotiate that lease, he was not happy former Democratic Executive/current Newsday employee Tom Suozzi negotiated the other new Smg sublease during the final days of his administration which is binding.
************************************************
Speculation:
1. The new sublease Tom Suozzi/Wang/Rechler negotiated in his final days before leaving office is sketchy on full details but the biggest game-changer in twenty plus years of this process with Wang/Rechler paying Smg to finally receive all event money made at Nassau Coliseum until 2015. Supposedly part of this means Wang can move team but Nassau has final approval.

1B. If Ed Mangano's new Republican town board denies approval of a the new lease Wang is out of his old Islanders lease entirely but that can only happen after TOH approves the Lighthouse project.

2. This is why you see Islanders Entertainment all over the teams website with the hotel because Wang/Rechler now receive everything from all events year-round in those buildings. Smg reportedly got paid around seventeen million for this (no bargain based on what was offered a decade ago to buyout Smg entirely) if there is a renovation/Lighthouse Smg does not lose revenue with building closed during summer so Wang/Rechler assumed all financial losses.

This to me is the strongest indication Wang/Rechler want to still do this project because that is a lot of money to pay out plus the work it will require to draw in more events. (even if Wang did this himself) It is also significant because it runs until 2015 when all leases expire or a buyer surfaces.

3. I don't see Wang as Islander owner offering long-term ticket packages and walking away out of nowhere now that he has operating control of the building and a few weeks ago adding virtual signage to Coliseum in April here. The closer things get to 2015, the more Nassau/TOH need Wang/Rechler to renovate their building for them unless their overall plan is to get someone/anyone else in there with or without the hockey team to finance some kind of renovation for them.

3B. I have no doubt Cablevison/Msg/Dolan would love to be the ones to get in there as quickly as they did the Hartford Civic Center, expand their brand officially to the Long Island market and perhaps buyout the cable contract at a discount to pay for a Coliseum renovation and another entertainment venue. Newsday's uneven/spotty coverage on Lighthouse (before Eden Laikin starting working for Ed Mangano) has supported the project in editorials but sports coverage before Cablevision even purchased the paper was terrible and only going downhill further in terms of the New York Islanders content and space provided for games.

4. The Lighthouse could well be reduced to becoming political football where the idea is don't be the one to reject the project, make the other side do that by creating impossible demands or dragging it out for years vs Wang-Rechler still have to listen because that hotel they own is going to be there under their ownership and it forces them to negotiate.

4B. It took less than one day/hour for Ed Mangano's New Nassau website to remove all traces of the Lighthouse project when he was sworn into office. That is not a very good sign and feels a lot like Kate Murray's claim of being an impartial judge only to launch a do the Coliseum first website or demanding local unions while she was bringing in Westchester's FP Clark or making sure her father had a forty dollar an hour job part time plus much more.

5. Biggest problem for TOH/Republican/Ed Mangano/Nassau is that Wang-Rechler can reject any scaled down plan they present and demand a yes or no on full project still waiting for a vote from September.

In the end, TOH can stall but someday they will have to vote on this project and if that happens will ultimately be the ones to reject it and receive the blame which is what they do not want under any circumstances.

5B. TOH/Murray must come up with something scaled down/or not and no doubt will at some point soon. We all hope it is something Wang-Rechler will be receptive to if it makes any kind of financial sense for them, however it could also mean Wang-Rechler fire right back with take our original plan or vote it down.

Either way again the TOH has to vote and where the LH project would ultimately be accepted or defeated and where the blame/credit will go.

Don't think for one moment that is not a big problem for TOH or Republican Nassau if this project is voted down, time keeps ticking down on Wang's leases while he looks for a buyer because this problem goes back on Nassau/TOH long before his tenure as owner began.

This is where things now stand.







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Defenders Review: 09-10 NY Islanders Season

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/19/2010 03:46:00 PM
Today NYIFC reviews the New York Islanders 2009-10 season on the backline.

Overall:
For a team with so many goals allowed/shots against, which includes a lot of poor special teams play ranked at the bottom of the league, a lot of high individual grades to be given out. Team defense is about five players, not two defenders.

Cannot grade individuals on lack of size, even though unit overall lacked it badly, especially after Sutton-Witt left which Scott Gordon made very clear.

Defenders:
Mark Streit:
Played 82 games, well over twenty five minutes in most of them and despite his numbers dropping on a club with scoring problems/special teams problems was the club's best player most night's with an outstanding defensive game.
Mark Streit to me was this teams MVP over Dwayne Roloson.
Grade A+

Jack Hillen:
Played sixty nine games and looked every bit the first rounder Garth Snow felt he signed and only getting better. Solid defense, good offensive instincts and composure with puck that is not something taught but instinctive. After getting a slapshot to the face from Ovechkin came back and really did not miss a beat.
Grade A

Andrew MacDonald:
What do you write about someone who comes up in mid-season and plays so well he is on the ice almost twenty five minutes a game in every clutch situation, with a plus four rating? As I wrote once or twittered he has a lot of Kenny Morrow/Radek Martinek cool under pressure about his game and just moves the puck. This player also has an offensive upside and a physical game that is only getting better.
Grade A+

Freddy Meyer:
Seems like after the Sutton trade (and before at times) he took his game to the next level, that has been seen before in spurts however nothing like this. He drove net, was hitting players clean/drawing powerplays with some very solid play and showed the offensive game from his Flyer days as a rookie.

Moving Forward:
I wrote recently he should get another contract here, however the size issue on the backline and the prospects waiting may make that a problem. Also he had a lot of uneven games early and more than a few re-directions go in off him for goals or plays that led to goals in what was a very poor start to the season.
Season Grade B-
Early season D
Later season A


Bruno Gervais:

I don't understand how a player who has several games over twenty minutes and can be so consistent/excellent one night, can struggle so badly with mistakes, pucks deflected off of him or misreads the next? It takes five to make a bad play/line change sometimes but in Gervais case there are more than fair questions to ask why such inconsistency? It's obvious he is trying and doing all he can every single game. I have no doubt he is pressing all the time to do better because all I read is how much character this player has and how hard he works.

Moving Forward:

How does Calvin deHaan, Travis Hamonic, Dustin Kohn among several prospects and possible bigger, veteran free agents with a physical game not challenge him for his spot, despite being signed?

I absolutely can see a trade here.
Grade C-

Dustin Kohn:
As a 2005 second rounder he finally got his callup and was given limited minutes, however did not look out of place with steady play the more he was used down the stretch. He may win a spot next season but has a lot of competition for a job.

Moving Forward:

Garth Snow kept him out of Bridgeport's games during the entire Olympic break and more, that to me is an indication he is coming closer to an NHL roster spot.
Grade C

Dylan Reese:
A few mistakes where he got burned for goals, but mostly a lot of steady play and a solid shot from the point. This career AHL player who was traded to Bridgeport was a plus four in nineteen NHL games on a team deep in negative goal differential, how is this not a good job?

Moving Forward:

His career record says he is not an NHL player, his time here says he is more than capable of playing regularly but again there is the other prospects and a ton of competition. I also expect he needs to be re-signed. Did Garth Snow/scouting staff see him as they did Matt Moulson as someone who can make the NHL?
Grade B

Mark Flood-Anton Klementyev:
Mark Flood did not play poorly but a lot was asked to come up late in season, Anton Klementyev who was drafted, signed by Isles instead of him playing in CHL went to Bridgeport, went to WJC but was spotted all season. He played March 13th, had that one game with Isles and never played another game for Bridgeport despite not being hurt after he was sent back.

Very strange situation for someone who likely was better served playing full time than sitting for a fair part of the winter, but he sure did have a full season for a player drafted last summer.

Moving Forward:
More questions than answers for both and no grades.
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Andy Sutton:
Before Sutton was traded he was having his best NHL season, the smart hits (before suspension against Pens) changed a lot of games, he stepped into play early and like I have seen before played so well, other clubs tried to fight him to get off ice. Having written all this I remember how easily he again got hurt and missed time.

Moving Forward:
I cannot see him at this age staying healthy long-term because that is not his career resume. I do not see a spot for him on this defense, despite a possible desire to return.
Overall A

Brendan Witt:
His time here last season he seemed to be hurting for long stretches before he got hit by a truck in Philadelphia which was good for jokes, however did not divert from poor play. Witt did have some bad breaks/re-directions go off of him for goals, what toughest to watch were big hits he was taking from opposing players far too often combined with a lack of quickness that led to chances and goals by opposition, his plus-minus was impossible to dismiss as just a stat along with the reduced minutes Scott Gordon played him.

It seemed like after opener when he targeted Ruslan Fedotenko we never saw that level of hitting again, he had those two goals against Edmonton which were just poor play by Oiler net-minder.

Moving Forward:

When you go on waivers and clear you have to prove yourself all over again. and the good news is everything I have read out of Bridgeport says he has been completely healthy playing three games over three days several times and did not miss a single game. He has since left the club during the Sound Tigers playoffs because his father in-law has been sick. Everything written/quoted from from by Witt, Sound Tigers coach Jack Capuano and players with Bridgeport suggest he is the same classy, character player he has been here since he the first day he came to New York.

With a year left on his contract, having to clear re-entry waivers anything is possible. I expect like John Sim he may get a fair chance to win back his NHL spot but unlike Sim there are few spots available with his physical play being his biggest advantage on a smaller defense.

NHL Grade D.


Radek Martinek:

I will repeat every review of Martinek I have given for years. One of the best moving the puck in traffic in the NHL when healthy, a few poor stretches but also able to knock over Ovechkin/Malkin and raise his game to go one on one against them but simply is not durable or able to protect himself from hits/circumstances that put him out for several months.

When Martinek's skate is caught in a rut, that is not his fault, when he turns the wrong way or does not brace himself knowing someone is going to finish a check, that is something else. He has also played hurt and returned from injuries far quicker than expected over the years.

Moving Forward:
He was reportedly skating at the end of this season after surgery, he is signed for next season. Who do you hold back on a small defense or do you limit his role if he is able to play? The prospects have to play and this defense has to get bigger by Scott Gordon's own comments, but you can never have enough players of Martinek's ability.

Garth Snow's toughest off-season decision in terms of his current defense. One I would not want to make because when he is on his game, he is one of the best in the league.

No Grade
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4/18/10

Islander News Articles 4/19

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/18/2010 06:04:00 PM
USA Today.com: Kyle Woodlief's Red-Line Report for NHL draft-eligible prospects this coming June slots Cam Fowler in the five spot.

NYIFC Comments:
Mr Woodlief's Red Line Report is one of the few year-round services available and despite behind tough on John Tavares prior to the draft a year ago is among the best.
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Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio's recap of game four win by the Sound Tigers 4-1 Sunday with blog entries.Patroit-News: Has Tim Leone's coverage and blog entries of Bears loss with
Lebanon Daily News with game five at Giant Center Wednesday.


NYIFC Comments:

Considering this is only winning playoff game NYIFC has covered since we started up back in 2007, after not covering last year's Sound Tigers games it's a very enjoyable day.

First AHL playoff start for Mikko Koskinen (appeared in Utah playoffs) he only faced nine shots in first two periods. Third period he played excellent, with Bears putting up close to twenty shots with tons of pressure, the broken glass may have been best thing to happen with about three minutes left to break Bears momentum.

Bears coach, Mark French did not pull his goalie down 4-1.

Hershey is not same team in goal so far with Braden Holtby in goal vs Michal Neuvirth, however Bridgeport again despite excellent play with most of first on powerplay could not not break through in front of Bears net. Finally when they did score it was outside pp shots with Andrew MacDonald scoring two and Bridgeport goals beating Holtby high-glove. Matt Martin had screens with others but goals are coming from outside.

Robin Figren got back in lineup for Michael Haley and scored a goal with what looked like an NHL slap-shot with a full wind-up.

Bridgeport was again the better team for first two periods and like all previous games were at least two of three periods, Bears went all out in third with Giroux, Gordon, Bourque and company buzzing.

Bridgeport will need to play it's best game (whether it's Koskinen or Munroe) to see a game six because Hershey has not had one complete game yet and frankly they are not only due, but overdue.

Their dominating stretches combined with the Tigers in-ability to convert chances down low, despite the Sound Tigers arguably winning ten of twelve periods this series should mean at worst a 2-2 series, if not leading 3-1.

Michal Neuvirth is not likely to allow the goals, Braden Holtby has in this series so far.

Bridgeport had a nine vs three powerplay advantage today, don't expect that trend to continue into game five either.

We'll see what happens on Wednesday.


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Bridgeport 4, Hershey 1 FINAL

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/18/2010 11:27:00 AM
Hershey Bears lead series 3-1, game five Wednesday night.
Mikko Koskinen vs Braden Holtby in goal Sunday.

1. BRI Bentivoglio, (1) (Figren, Radja), 15:07 (PP)
2. BRI MacDonald, (2) (Smith, Reese), 0:34 (PP)
2. BRI MacDonald, (3) (Reese), 12:03 (PP)
2. BRI Figren, (1) (Kohn), Martin 18:31
3. HER Gordon, (4) (Aucoin), 6:55
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Links above to listen/watch. Sidebars have previews/blogs/twitters from writers for lineups/changes/game three extra's.

I will be doing some twitter updates during the game that can be followed here, from the twitter feeds on sidebars, NYIFC.blogspot.com or the twitter page itself.

Nothing to add on series that I have not already written.

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4/17/10

Islander News Articles 4/18

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/17/2010 05:16:00 PM
NY Times: Dave Caldwell has what are written up as " recent comments " from Tim Beach, the Islanders’ vice president for operations, as to why the teams long-time goal song was changed, what led them to the song they currently play in an article about goal songs/sirens or music played at NHL games.

NYIFC Comments:
Leave it to the NY Times editor to have Dave Caldwell cover this and revert to it's SI format of features, as opposed to full game coverage for the Devils after sending the Mark Messier Unauthorized book writer/Ranger beatwriter Jeff Z. Klein or Stu Hackel to every road game they could down the stretch.

This is the same NY Times that used AP for Ranger home and road games earlier, missed two of three Islander Msg games a year ago and only had the 3D article from Richard Sandomir as it's newspaper article with an AP blurb on the actual gamehere.

Mr Caldwell (former Isles beatwriter before Ron Dicker) for his lack of Islander coverage had no problem, with a few mild digs at the goal horn writing it was an " army surplus horn " or that a year ago speculated none of the songs used caught on, probably because the team hardly scored and had the worst record in the league.

Mr Caldwell does not bother pointing out the Rangers scored nine more goals than the Islanders a year ago and had the same 222 goals this season, despite injury disparity.

When reporting is poor, little facts like that are overlooked when it's time to take a few digs. My personal take is the Times has been a lost cause for all hockey fans in New York for a long time now and really going back before the lockout, all the publication seems good for today are blog entries with music clips to supplant information after an amateur strategy of covering Europe more than New York hockey.
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Casey Cizikas: Has no points for St. Michael's Majors trailing 2-1 after second against Barrie Colts.

Kevin Poulin: Has allowed five goals Saturday with Victoriaville's trailing Saint John's 5-1 at time this is written.

Travis Hamonic: A late start Saturday for Brandon against Calgary.
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Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio's recap of game three 7-2 blowout win by Hershey with blog entries and a preview of game four. Patroit-News: Has Tim Leone's coverage and blog entries with
Lebanon Daily News.


NYIFC Comments:

Bridgeport played a solid first period where they again were better team, but simply did not get many shots from forwards or pressure goaltender Michal Neuvirth despite physical play that gave them man advantage. Out of nowhere the Bears team that has struggled for the better part of seven plus periods, simply played to their regular season record and after they got one goal, made it look too easy, with Scott Munroe not having a chance before being relieved by Mikko Koskinen as they picked Bridgeport and the Islander-centric defense apart.

Blake Comeau did an interview between periods and Frans Nielsen was reportedly at this game.

Six goals in around fifteen minutes, it was beyond impressive and dominating. With Nate Lawson hurt/sitting game three and Munroe pulled, how does Mikko Koskinen not get a game four start, despite allowing two himself?

Bridgeport played them 2-1 in a third period that had little intensity and the Bears seemed to spot it's top players.

Game four 3pm Sunday. Bears lead series 3-0 where Bridgeport has led or been even for seven plus out of nine periods but what Hershey did in second Saturday was no fluke and all about them being an outstanding team many are calling best in AHL history.

Maybe Bridgeport can scrap together a win Sunday, but a team as dominating as Hershey has a huge breakthrough period like they did Saturday usually finishes the job sooner than later. I see no chance of a comeback down 3-0.

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