Why the Islanders are the Greatest Franchise in Hockey

Posted in Islanders on March 13, 2014 by EAST SIDE RYNO
John Tavares - a true role model

John Tavares – a true role model

Sure the Isles are sitting in the NHL cellar with just a month left in the season. But below is a story written in the Winnipeg Sun about an unfortunate event that occurred to an 11 year old Islander fan at the Winnipeg-Islanders game last week. I will say no more about the story, just read the article below.

A Winnipeg Sun story about an 11-year-old hockey fan who was taunted at a Jets game last week has struck a chord with NHL star John Tavares of the New York Islanders.

 

WINNIPEG SUN 

THURSDAY MARCH 13, 2014

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Jake Lotocki is an Islanders fan who attended last Tuesday’s Winnipeg-New York game wearing his Tavares jersey.

But the experience turned ugly when he was jeered by several fans after the game, one getting in his face and yelling, ‘You suck! Go home, loser!”

Tavares, in Toronto rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury, read the story soon after it was posted online at winnipegsun.com, Monday night.

He immediately called the team’s director of communications, Kimber Auerbach, who was with the Islanders as they played in Vancouver.

“He called me during the game and told me he wanted to do something for Jake,” Auerbach told the Sun, Wednesday.

After reading how Lotocki had to leave the arena with his jersey crumpled up so people wouldn’t see it, Tavares suggested sending the boy a new one, autographed by his favourite player.

Auerbach called the Lotocki home Tuesday night and told Jake’s mother of the team’s plans.

“It’s amazing,” Sue Lotocki said. “It’s quite impressive that somebody who was just Jake’s hockey hero turned out to be a true-life hero for him. He really appreciates him making the effort to reach out to Jake in that way. It means a lot to him.”

The Islanders have also promised to invite Lotocki to a game-day skate when they visit Winnipeg next season.

“He’ll get to come down and meet John and some of the other players as well,” Auerbach said.

Tavares wasn’t the only one moved by the story.

The Islanders Booster Club and a Facebook group calling itself New York Islanders Hardcore contacted the Sun offering support and team memorabilia for Jake, while a Winnipeg restaurateur offered to have the family for dinner.

Another fan contacted the Sun offering his season tickets for a game.

“Amazing, generous offers,” Sue Lotocki said. “As a family we’ve decided we will decline anything further. What we’ve received from the Islanders is amazing. There’s no way I could say no to that. But beyond that… getting this dialogue going is what we hoped for.”

Lotocki had said the treatment her son received at the game flew in the face of everything the family teaches about respect in sport. Her son, who’s also a Jets fan, plays hockey and sees some of the problems with overzealous parents.

“And all the stuff going on with minor hockey leagues, we talk about it a lot,” she said. “I guess that’s where I find it hard. I’m trying to teach him how to be a good sportsman, and then you get this.”

The response they’ve received since the story went public has turned a negative into a positive.

“An outpouring of support,” she said. “It’s a really good message for our son to hear: good behaviour gets positive response.”

Lotocki said a representative from True North Sports returned a call from her husband assuring the family the safety and well-being of fans is a priority.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @friesensunmedia

2014 Draft Prospects for the Islanders

Posted in Islanders on February 26, 2014 by EAST SIDE RYNO
The Isles are looking for a winger early in this year's draft. Leon Draisaitl could be a perfect fit.

Winger Leon Draisaitl could be a perfect fit for the Islanders

It’s sad to say, but one of the most exciting times of the year for Islander fans is the NHL Draft. Five of the last six drafts, the Islanders have had a top 5 pick. Now if you remember, the Islanders traded Matt Moulson and a 2014 first round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek back in October. One detail left out in that trade was that if the Islanders land a top 10 pick this season, they have the choice to defer the  pick to the 2015 NHL Draft. Since the Islanders would have the 5th overall pick if the season ended today, it’s likely GM Garth Snow would keep this year’s pick. Now before we get into the possible draft choices for the Isles in June, let’s take a look back and evaluate the Isles’ first round picks since 2006.

  1. 2006 (7th Pick): Kyle Okposo 
  2. 2008 (9th Pick): Josh Bailey
  3. 2009 (1st Pick): John Tavares
  4. 2009 (12th Pick): Calvin de Haan
  5. 2010 (5th Pick): Nino Niederreiter
  6. 2010 (30th Pick): Brock Nelson
  7. 2011 (5th Pick): Ryan Strome
  8. 2012 (4th Pick): Griffin Reinhart
  9. 2013 (15th Pick): Ryan Pulock

Overall, I think Snow has done a decent job with these picks. Kyle Okposo has become a dominant force for the Isles, as he is currently 2nd on the team this season with 59 points. John Tavares has emerged as an NHL superstar, finishing 3rd in MVP voting last season. Brock Nelson has had a strong year as a young center, showing he can hold his own in the NHL. 20 year old Ryan Strome is one of the NHL’s top prospects and just been called up from AHL Bridgeport to fill-in for the injured Tavares. Strome has played in 15 games this season for the Isles with one goal and three assists. Young defenseman Calvin de Haan has finally found himself in the Islanders lineup this season. Before this year, de Haan had only played in one career NHL game for the Isles. But this year, he has held his own with 10 points in 34 games and has been one of the Isles’ strongest defenseman. Finally, Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock are young defensive studs who have been impressive in the OHL the last few seasons. Snow is relying on these two guys to emerge as the defenseman of the future for the Islanders, something this team has desperately needed in the last decade.

2013 1st Rounder Ryan Pulock (D) has had a stellar season in the WHL

2013 1st Rounder Ryan Pulock (D) has had a stellar season in the WHL

But there have been the disappointments. Josh Bailey has yet to fulfill his potential as a high-scoring winger. He’s had some decent seasons for the Isles (35 points in ’09/’10 & 32 points in ’11/’12), but his scoring has decreased over the course of his career. This season, he has a measly 5 goals & 16 assists in 50 games. Nino Neiderreiter looked to be a stud forward who would eventually play on the same line as Tavares. But he was never able to find his groove with the Isles during his rookie season in 2011 (one goal in 55 games). Nino eventually demanded a trade, and the Isles granted him his wish during the 2013 draft as they traded Neiderreiter to the Wild for forward Cal Clutterbuck.

Now onto the future…

After drafting back-to-back defenseman in the last two years, the Isles will likely draft a winger. With Sam Reinhart (Griffin’s brother) likely to go first overall this June, here are three forwards I feel would be a great fit for the Isles.

1) LW Leon Draisitl (WHL – Prince Albert Raiders)

Draistl is an 18 year-old German forward who currently plays for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. According to scouts, he’s got size (6’2″ 208) and has excellent vision with the puck. His strong passing skills along with ability to be a playmaker has given him the nickname “The German Gretzky.” He is also the son of Peter Draisitl, who played on the German national team in the 1988, 1992, and 1998 Olympics.

2) RW Kasperi Kapanen (SM-liiga – KalPa)

Kapanen is a 17-year old Finnish winger who is a third generation hockey player. His father, Sami Kapanen, was a standout forward in the NHL for 13 years with the Whalers, Hurricanes, and Flyers. His grandfather, Hannu Kapanen, was a forward who played for the Finnish national team in the 1976 Winter Olympics. According to NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb, Kasperi is an excellent skater and has smart moves to the net. As a 17 year old, this kid is already playing in Finland’s top league and making an impact. I wouldn’t mind seeing this guy wearing orange and blue in a few years.

3) LW Michael Dal Colle (OHL – Oshawa Generals)

I feel that Dal Colle would be the ideal pick for the Islanders, if he’s still around in the draft. There’s been talk that this guy will go in the top 5 so if the Isles have a later pick, there’s no chance they will get him. It seems that Dal Colle is the best available two-way player and compares himself to Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal. Personally, I think he resembles more of a young Evgeni Malkin. He has the speed, the size and the scoring ability to become an NHL superstar. Down the road, I would love to see a player like Dal Colle play on the same line as Tavares.

This Jacket is Pure Gold

Posted in Giants on February 18, 2014 by EAST SIDE RYNO

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I’ve been looking for this jacket for over a decade. A few weeks ago, I walked into Modell’s and BOOM – there it is – the Bill Belichick 1980′s Giants Jacket. Now it may not be the exact replica of the famous red Belichick jacket, but it’s close enough. If there was ever a piece of clothing that represented the Parcells era, it’s this jacket right here. If you’re a Giants fan, this is the perfect jacket to have for March weather. Buy it.

Belichick donning his red jacket after winning Super Bowl XXV

Belichick donning his red jacket after winning Super Bowl XXV

5 Borough Sports Is Back

Posted in Misc. on February 18, 2014 by EAST SIDE RYNO
2014-01-25 17.27.02

Bought a 2002 Jason Sehorn figurine in Hawaii…why not?

So after an eleven month hiatus, 5 Borough Sports is back. I gotta admit, the site looks pretty depressing with the 2013 Yankee Preview as the last post written. It’s time for 5BS to be done the right way. No one gives a shit about typical sports analysis. You can find that everywhere on the internet. On this site, I will post whatever I want about sports. I am a die-hard sports fan from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so there will a ton of posts about my four favorite professional New York teams – Yankees, Giants, Islanders and Knicks.

I am also a crazy fan of my alma mater, Wake Forest, so don’t be surprised if I throw in some Demon Deacon sports to the blog. Growing up in New York, it’s hard to have a college sports team granted the closest Division 1A school was Rutgers. But my father graduated from the great Fordham University in the Bronx, so I grew up a Fordham fan.

Looking back at the site, I realized I never finished my New York sports rivalries countdown. Look for that in the near future along with many other countdowns. Sammywestside will make his return to 5BS  for March Madness and other random sports stuff in a few weeks. This summer, 5BS television will return to the site.

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“Sammywestside” (right) during an episode of 5BS Television from 2011. Westide will return to 5BS in a few weeks for some March Madness talk

So there you have it – the blog about Yankees, Giants, Islanders, Knicks, Wake Forest, and Fordham…Welcome back to 5 Borough Sports.

New York Yankees 2013 Preview

Posted in Yankees on March 20, 2013 by EAST SIDE RYNO

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…And we’re back. With the conclusion of the World Baseball Classic last night, the 2013 Major League Baseball season is just around the corner. To be honest, the 2012 New York Yankees season seemed very lackadasical. The Yanks finished on top of the AL East, but there was a feeling around the city that this team was doomed in the postseason. With injuries looming and old age being a tremendous factor, we were all waiting for a collapse. The Yanks were able to sneak by the Baltimore Orioles in the Division Series with almost no offense (with the exception of Raul Ibanez). But after Jeter’s playoff-ending injury in Game 1 of the ALCS, it was over. Did the Yanks even score a run after that? Can’t remember.

What was also sad about last year’s postseason was the lack of attendance. I’ve mentioned it before on how the Yankees must lower ticket prices in order to get the real fans back. I was  delighted at the fact that the organization received criticism around the country for the lack of energy and fans during the playoffs.  You would think the front office learned from the humiliating attendance numbers last season. Unfortunately they didn’t given they decided to break their partnership with Stubhub…

I love the New York Yankees – which is why I’m saying that I hope they miss the postseason in 2013. This franchise needs a fresh start – a whole new look. Maybe a fourth place AL East finish will an under .500 record could spark the front office to make changes (and I don’t mean in free agency). If I were Brian Cashman, I would start the rebuilding process today. Look at the Red Sox last season. They tried to hold on to their best players (riddled with injuries and had chemistry) and it completely backfired. By August, GM Bill Cherrington finally cleaned house. Boston might suck this year, but they are headed in the right direction.

So instead of preview the Yankees this season, I’m going to show you might starting nine and rotation if I were running the organization:

2013 Opening Day Lineup w/ 2012 Stats

CF Brett Gardner (.323, 10 H, 2 SB – 16 Games)
SS Derek Jeter (.297, 6 HR, 61 RBI)
RF Ichiro Suzuki (.283, 9 HR, 55 RBI)
2B Robinson Cano (.313, 33 HR, 94 RBI)
LF Vernon Wells (.230, 11 HR, 29 RBI)
3B Kevin Youkilis (.235, 19 HR, 60 RBI)
DH Travis Hafner (.228, 12 HR, 34 RBI)
1B Lyle Overbay (.259, 2 HR, 10 RBI)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  C Francisco Cervelli (.246, 2 HR, 39 RBI – AAA)

Starting Rotation
1. C.C. Sabathia (15-6, 3.38 ERA)
2. Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 ERA)
3. Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 ERA)
4. Ivan Nova (12-8, 5.02 ERA)
5. Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.19 ERA)

Bullpen:
David Phelps
Joba Chamberlain
Boone Logan
David Aardsma
David Robertson
Mariano Rivera

Get ready for the 2013 Mets Preview tomorrow…

Well That Was Nasty…

Posted in Islanders on March 4, 2013 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Just what the Islanders needed. They’ve been abysmal at home all season and this was the spark they needed. Everyone in the Eastern Conference has been beating each other, which means it’s going to be a tight race. Like yesterday, the Isles will need to find ways to win close games. Getting that extra point in overtime and shootouts are so crucial in a strike-shortened season. Even though the Isles lost their last three games, this win puts them back into contention. If you look at the standings, the Islanders are only three points out from the eight seed. We’re only halfway into the season – plenty of hockey to go.

Very "Forsberg-esque" by JT

Very “Forsberg-esque” by JT

Fishstickcity.com

Posted in Islanders on February 23, 2013 by EAST SIDE RYNO

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Yesterday was the debut of the new website “Fishstickcity.com.” It’s a website I created that is a part of 5 Borough Sports. The website will have all daily Islanders news stories, along with game recaps and memories of the historical franchise. You can read all Fishstick articles right here on 5 Borough Sports as well. Here is a link to the website along with info about the new site. Enjoy.

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With my dad at the Nassau Coliseum – February 18, 2013

I created “Fishstick City” to talk New York Islanders hockey from the perspective of a Manhattan native. It’s simple – if you’re raised in New York City, you’re a Rangers fan. I grew up a mile away from Madison Square Garden, but surprisingly I loathe everything about the New York Rangers organization.

You might ask, how did I become an Islander fan growing up in Manhattan? The truth is, my father is an Islanders fan who grew up in Queens. After he graduated from Fordham University, his college friend Pete Hanley got a job at Newsday and Pete covered the Islanders in the late 1970′s.  Whenever Pete wasn’t able to make it to the Coliseum, he would give my dad a press pass for the Islanders game. With the press pass, my father watched the Islanders quickly rise to being a Stanley Cup contender. I was born in 1988, so I missed the glory days at the Coliseum. But my dad has taught me all about the great Islanders moments from the early 80′s. I attended my first hockey game when I was six years old on March 26, 1995. Instead of taking the subway to the Garden, my dad and I drove out to Uniondale to watch the Islanders take on the Devils. We sat mid-ice and watched an epic battle between the lowly Isles and the heavily-favored Devils. The game ended in a 5-5 tie but the Islanders played their hearts out. Ziggy Palffy scored a goal while Ray Ferraro notched a goal and two assists. The Islanders would finish the 1995 season with a terrible record 15-28-5, last in the Atlantic Division. But from that day on, I became a die-hard fan of this struggling franchise.

A casual fan may not know the history of the Islanders franchise. Today everyone sees the Islanders as the laughingstock of the NHL. But there was once a time when the Islanders were the greatest franchise in all of sports. It’s hard to realize that the Islanders are still the last franchise to have won four straight world championships (1980-83). Here at “Fishstick City,” we will discuss everything there is to know about Islanders hockey. From the history of the franchise to the recent trasactions to my personal experiences with this hockey club, this website is dedicated to everything Islanders hockey. To begin, here is a video made in 2006 about the history of the New York Islanders. Enjoy:

At the Coliseum during Islanders Practice - March 2002

March 2002 – At an Islanders Practice at the Coliseum

In 2002 with Islanders captain Michael Peca

In 2002 with Islanders captain Michael Peca

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