My Thanks as always to all the folks with their kind support at NYIFC, here, and at twitter & in e-mails.
This concludes the 2010-11 season, one that frankly was a tale of two teams but overall has to be considered a huge failure, despite individual success/improvement from many players.
Does this year's failute go on former head coach Scott Gordon or current interim coach Jack Capuano?
Absolutely not. Scott Gordon did not like how his team was playing at 4-1-2, he saw the signs and knew his team. Jack Capuano turned this around but when this team struggled for a while he was threatening to take ice time.
All my years writing I have never seen this organization run out of contracted NHL/AHL defenders and go through six goaltenders.
No doubt there were some good signs from this team in the second half and despite the struggles at the end there are very tangible reasons to be optimistic about next year.
Having written this the bitter reality is a year ago there was some of the same reason for optimism when the Islanders had an eighteen point improvement with the gm on record as saying everyone must be better.
Sure when you again lose same 586 man games to injury (four more than in 08-09) combined with Bridgeport losing so many players due to injury they were fourth in AHL history in players used you have serious problems.
The players brought in were durable, Eaton is generally a healthy player, same for Mottau, but here they did not stay healthy.
As I wrote a while back the blame has to go on the general manager, not for the injuries but for some of the construction flaws that led to problems when some of the players were healthy.
The Islanders season fell off track in October/November when Hunter, Weight, and some of the players on the side-lines now were still healthy, it fell off track when Comeau did not produce as he did at the end of 09-10, when Nielsen could not score at even strength for most of this season and when they could not score at five on five or on the powerplay. If failed when Sim could not produce as he did a year ago.
It failed with the players from Bridgeport not giving them enough early when called upon and that includes a season where Andy Hilbert signed and never played.
It failed in a ton of one goal/open net losses and a pp that completely fell apart after the early hot start. It failed miserably at five on five like few teams in club history.
Sorry, but some of that has to go on the general manager, he knew Weight is not a scorer, he saw the struggles of Hunter, sometimes you have to create an opening as was done with Bergenheim and Tambellini.
Josh Bailey had more than his share of slumps but at his age you cannot expect production and it was made harder again moving him for far too much of this season before Schremp was finally placed on waivers. Bailey went to Bridgeport, did very well, and was recalled to again by placed on a wing initially.
Comeau early was moved around also.
We can look back at the final fifty five games and sure have tons of optimism, it's impossible not to with remarkable breakthrough by Michael Grabner, another excellent season from Matt Moulson, Tavares, the emergence of Hamonic, more great signs from Andrew MacDonald playing as a first line combination and outworking veterans as well as the final numbers by PA Parenteau and Blake Comeau.
Plus minus is a stat sometimes misleading, look at Eaton's plus minus when healthy, when the team was in free-fall he almost never had a minus game.
Okposo had a very rough season after he returned and deserves a pass. We have no idea what a year off does for Streit, who is far from a kid. Hunter is signed and there are a lot of right wings between Parenteau, Okposo, Joensuu, Niederreiter and Rakhshani.
Rick DiPietro did not prove he can play with any regularity in terms of starting and earlier despite some strong games the rust showed in others. What he did was a start but next year he must return to full time status and not allow soft goals or his contract does become a mistake if relegated to a backup. I have to throw out his play in small set of games since returning from Johnson fight because it was a small body of work.
Al Montoya outplayed DiPietro, but there is Kevin Poulin and for now Evgeny Nabokov to go with Koskinen, perhaps Nilsson or even Nate Lawson if re-signed.
Bottom line we have to see what happens next, who is qualified and resigned out of the teams many RFA/UFA. Is Jack Capuano the likely new head coach and if so what does he do as the boss from day one with many of the players who got hurt failing under Scott Gordon?
Garth Snow for his part cannot be shy about pulling the trigger to trade players and improve his team.
Until then all fans can do is speculate.
What can be said about 2010-11 is overall it was a very rough year, all this optimism means nothing unless a year from now this team is in a playoff spot with a realistic chance of bringing the Stanley Cup home to New York.
The media coverage was a disgrace on virtually every professional level, it would have been if the team went undefeated.
Matt Donovan's first professional goal: combined with Mikko Koskinen's 46 saves sends Bridgeport into the summer 4-3 winners with Pat Bingham's interim status as coach needing to be addressed.