Archive for the Islanders Category

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

1297535924984_ORIGINAL

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.

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

890

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.

860917_2875934233940_1559137507_o

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

The End of the Rick DiPietro Era

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

Rick-1-590x552-1

2/22/13 – 11:33am: Islanders place goalie Rick DiPietro on Waivers

It’s hard to believe that the DiPietro era is coming to an end for the New York Islanders. For seven years, Islanders fans have been tortuned by the most infamous deal in sports history. When the Isles signed Rick DiPietro prior to the 2006 season for 15 years, $67.5 million, it seemed like an absurd deal. But at the time, DiPietro looked like he was well on his way to becoming a franchise goaltender. He was the first overall pick in the 2000 NHL draft and by 2005 he was heading into his prime as an NHL goalie. He started 63 games in 2005-06 and 30 games. In the 2006-07 season (the first season of his new contract), he was one of hockey’s best goal-tenders with a 32-19-9 record and an impressive 2.58 GAA. But that was the last positive season DP would ever have in an Islanders uniform. Instead of explaining this disastrous career, here’s  a timeline of DiPietro’s career since the 2007 season:

March 13, 2007: DiPietro suffers concussion vs. Montreal

DiPietro collides with Canadiens’ forward Steve Begin while trying to poke check. He would return four games later, but sustain another concussion against the Rangers later in the season. DiPietro returned for the first round playoff series against Buffalo, but the Isles were eliminated in five games.

2007 off-season: DiPietro undergoes surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip

DiPietro came back healthy for the 2007-08 season. He finished the season with a 26-28-7 record and a 2.82 GAA. DP was also named the Eastern Conference starting goaltender in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game. The Islanders failed to make the playoffs.

June 3, 2008: DiPietro undergoes knee surgery

Missed the first four games of the season, but returned for the fifth game at Florida. During his third game back, DiPietro left the game with an “undisclosed lower body injury.”

November 1, 2008: DiPietro Undergoes Second Knee Surgery

DiPietro gets a second knee surgery on the same meniscus that was repaired the previous June. DiPietro returned for one more game late in December 2008, but then sat out the rest of the season due to re-injuring his knee.

January 8, 2010: DiPietro Returns to the Ice for the First Time in Over a Year

DiPietro would lose 5 of his 7 starts in the 2009-10 season. His final start was on February 6th in a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. I had the pleasure of watching that blowout behind the net.

February 13, 2010: DiPietro listed as Day-to-Day with the Flu / Swelling of Left Knee

Done for the season.

December 21, 2010: DiPietro placed on Injured Reserve due to Knee Swelling

Eight days later, DP miraculously returns and defeats the Penguins!

February 2, 2011: “The Fight” – Out Indefinitely

In the waning seconds of a terrible Islanders game at Pittsburgh, DiPietro engaged in a goalie-goalie fight against Brent Johnson. Not knowing that Johnson was a lefty, DP was knocked out with one punch. DiPietro was out for 4-6 weeks with a swollen jaw, and of course – swelling in his left knee.

November 2011: Injures Groin – Out for Season

DiPietro started the 2011-12 strong with a solid 25 save performance against the Capitals. But shortly after, DiPietro was sidelined with a groin injury. He later underwent surgery to repair a hernia in the groin region; therefore missing the remainder of the season.

February 22, 2013: DiPietro Placed on Waivers

From 2008-2012, Rick DiPietro played in a total of 47 games for the Islanders. This deal has ultimately made the Isles’ front office a laughing stock in the NHL. No team in their right mind would pick up an injury prone goaltender who’s guaranteed more money than almost anyone in the league, so Rick is likely headed to AHL -Bridgeport. There have been rumors circulating that the Islanders are looking to buy out his contract at the end of the year. If so, maybe this organization can put this terrible decision behind them and look to the bright future.

Sidenote

DiPietro may have been a bust, but whoever throws a punch at Sean Avery is a hero in my book:

The Return of the NHL

Posted in Islanders on January 19, 2013 by EAST SIDE RYNO

nhl_logo

It’s Christmas Eve everyone – the start of the 2013 NHL season is upon us. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a season to start. Obviously, Opening Day and Week 1 of the NFL season are always marked on my calender, but this night feels different. A new NHL season is about to begin, a shortened season that was days away from being canceled. Just three weeks ago, I remember reading that it was doubtful there was going to be any hockey this year. But now here we are, about to start a wild 48 game-season.

joe-sakic-nordiques

Joe Sakic and the 1995 Quebec Nordiques shocked the hockey world

I realize that the lockout has pissed all of us off, but maybe this was for the good. Hockey isn’t even close to being as popular as the other three major sports, so maybe a shortened season is just what it needs. Even though there are fans who say they will never forgive the NHL for having another lockout, I strongly believe the fans will be back stronger than ever. More is on the line each game, which mean teams will be playing harder. The game will be played much better granted these players won’t have to go through a grueling 82 game-season. This entire year will almost have a playoff feel to it since no team can afford to go through a slump. I remember prior to the 1995 season, the Quebec Nordiques weren’t supposed to be that special of a team. They finished with a weak 76 points in the 93-94 season and finished 11th in the East. But in the strike-shortened 94-95 season, Quebec started the season on fire and never looked back. Ultimately they finished the season with a 30-13 record and clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference. So let’s watch out for some of the unexpected teams this season to pull off some surprises.

I’ve noticed a number of analysts have picked the Islanders to finish dead last in the East this season. I’ve been looking at our extremely thin roster and I’ve got to admit, I can’t disagree with them. On paper, this Isles’ team is awful. There’s one star player (John Tavares), one solid winger (Matt Moulson), and one good defenseman (Mark Streit). Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is getting old, right winger Kyle Okposo needs to prove he can be respected in this league, and Travis Hamonic has some potential to be a trusted defenseman. And the rest of the team is terrible. Let’s not forgot that Lubomir Visnovsky, one of the best players on our roster, doesn’t even want to report to the Islanders and has decided to stay in Slovakia with his family until further notice. Tomorrow night, there will be three defenseman that will be making their NHL debut for the Islanders. I hate to say it, but this could be an embarrassing four months of hockey in Uniondale. But remember, it’s a shortened season. These young AHL-lifers are in mid-season form. Maybe this Isles team can start off hot and never look back! Who knows?

Tomorrow night I will be thoroughly celebrating this memorable 2013 NHL season at the glorious Nassau Coliseum as my beloved Islanders take on the Devils at 7pm.

wr

It’s gonna feel good to be back

#9: New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders

Posted in Islanders, Rangers, Top 10 New York Sports Rivalries on April 26, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Dennis Potvin’s hit on Ulf Nilsson upgraded this Rivalry from a Battle to a War

Most people in my generation remember the intense Devils / Rangers rivalry in the mid to late 1990’s. When the Rangers and Devils faced off in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, it went down as one of the greatest series in NHL history. The Blue Shirts went on the defeat the Devils in seven games ending with Rangers’ forward Stephane Matteau scoring in overtime to win the series. But in the following season, the Devils would bounce back and win a Cup of their own.

The Devils/Rangers rivalry was one of the greatest rivalries in hockey, but it doesn’t even compare to the historic Rangers/Islanders rivalry dating back to 1975. Even though the Islanders franchise has had the reputation as one of the worst teams in the NHL since 1996, this New York hockey rivalry remains strong to this day. The Islanders franchise was established in 1972, but they were the laughing stock of the NHL in their first three seasons. In 1975, they made the playoffs for the first time and faced the heavily favored Rangers in the first round. The series would go to a third and decisive game at the Garden and overtime, Isles’ forward J.P Parise (son of Devils star Zach Parise) would score the series-clinching goal to oust the Rangers. The Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, but eventually would lose to the Flyers. Nonetheless, the “Battle of New York” officially ignited.

The two teams would meet again in the playoffs in 1979, this time the Islanders being the heavy favorites. But the Blue Shirts stunned the Isles by eliminating them in six games. In the 1980’s, the Islanders would gain their vengeance on the Rangers by simply dominating the rivalry. The Isles would go on to play the Rangers in the playoffs every year from 1981-1984 and win every series. During this time, the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups (one more than the Rangers’ three at the time). In the 90’s the Rangers finally had bragging rights by defeating the Islanders in 1990 and 1994, and of course winning the Cup in ’94 as well.

Ken Morrow’s OT Goal vs. the Rangers in the 1984 playoffs was ranked the most famous goal in New York Hockey History

The one player in the center of this heated rivalry from 1975-1994 was the Islanders’ Hall of Fame defenseman Dennis Potvin. In 1979, Potvin put a hard hit on Rangers’ center Ulf Nilsson, which Rangers fans claim was one of the dirtiest hits in hockey (apparently it was a clean hit). After the hit, Nilsson was never the same player again. The Battle of New York was also home to some of the grittiest fights in hockey history. Who can forget the classic fights between Clark Gillies and Ed Hospodar?

Today the Battle of New York  is still in full bloom as the Garden continues to chant “Potvin Sucks” during any games of the season. With the Islanders improving, let’s look forward to this rivalry to gain even more heat in the next few years.