There is no "tanking" in Uniondale. The team that suits up for coach Scott Gordon plays to the best of their ability. After all, they want Gordon to see them as a perfect fit for his team next season. They also play for each other. Whether Islander or Sound Tiger, they are a team.
The newest promotion last night on the Jumbotron was something to the effect of each prominent Islanders player who had spent time on the Sound Tigers saying something like "I was born in Bridgeport." It made a statement. The call ups you see now can very well be the Islander stars of tomorrow. Providing "tomorrow" ever comes.
Scott Gordon spent at least 90 seconds of the four-minute post game interview smiling at some of the questions that were asked. Winning always makes him smile. Even if it does mean possibly changing the Islanders rank in the draft lottery.
Scott Gordon spends so much time teaching and coaching that he doesn't have time for stat watching. "Until you told me we were a game over 500, I didn't know." He told C.J. Papa with a broad smile. "It's important we do well in the second half." (Which is now down to a number of games you can count on one hand.)
He had some nice things to say about Jesse Joensuu "He used his speed, he was physical. His positioning was good all night. Obviously he's a guy we are excited about for the future. I was really happy with Jesse. I thought he played well."
I think Jesse would be happy to hear that as he said in the locker room, "The biggest thing on my mind when I get here is always that I'm living my dream. When you get points, it pumps up your confidence. When I got to the locker room and saw that I would play with Doug Weight and Richard Park, I just thought that, I can't think about it, because if I think about my line mates I'm going to be somewhere except on the ice. So I just tried to forget who I played with." Yep, Jesse is living his dream.
The future also is looking brighter for Josh Bailey, who did have a slow start coming directly from Juniors. "For Josh, the offensive for him is going to build as he gets stronger. The biggest take away for me is the skating part of it, and that will improve. But the fact that he is moving his feet, he's getting more opportunities because of it. He's around the puck more often. As a result, he gets that goal because he was in stride."
Gordon has been working with Josh... a lot..."It's identifying, showing him on video and in practice that once you move the puck there's someplace to go. That's the biggest thing. In juniors he's probably so accustomed to slowing the play down, timing his options and standing still. When you're at a standstill, it's easy to get locked in. Now when he moves the puck, he's moving his spots and whether it's to be part of a fore check on an unsuccessful pass or to be part of a tag on a successful pass, it leads to opportunities offered to him."
Josh is a good student as he told the reporters "The system is second nature now. When you see plays like that work out, it gives you some satisfaction. I think the part of the first year is adapting to the league and learning stuff that you have to do and get away with. I think as of late I feel as if I've grown more as a player."
Gordon would tend to agree with you Josh.
With Yann Danis in net following his previous high scoring loss, Gordon once again touted his faith in the young goaltender. "One of the things I was talking to Yann about before the game was, I want to see that sort of response I saw tonight. He had three goals go off of sticks, kind of flukey type and then he had the one that came down the middle of the ice and they scored on, which I didn't think there was a whole lot he could do on. That being said, he even said he felt pretty good. It was just one of those games that you don't get the bounces and for me tonight I thought he was really good."
Notice something here, Scott Gordon remembers every play from every game. I know I've said it before, but I will say it again. From a tactical standpoint, this man just amazes me. Granted, he may lose me completely from time to time with his technical explanations. When that happens, I just focus on what he's wearing. I don't think we've ever had a GQ model coach before. Have we?
Yann Danis feels the same way about bad losses as ex-goalie Scott Gordon, "It's part of the game. All goalies have to go through it. All you have to do is battle through it and stay positive and eventually things will get better. I hate losing."
I was snapped back into the post game by the next question regarding the five Bridgeport call-ups. The answer was simple. He knew not to completely devastate Jack's team when they are playing today at 1 pm and are headed for post season when the Islanders are heading for the golf course. He admitted that calling Mitch Fritz up was because Tampa had come down hard last time on Jackman. Fritz was just a little added protection along with Rechlichz. In the end, Joel beat Fritz on the stat sheet in every column. More shifts, more ice time, more penalty minutes and more love from the crowd. (Although Fritz did take a face off and won helping to bring the Islanders face off percentage to a whopping 59%.)
Not to leave out his veteran players, Gordon said "I thought Marty and Witter were solid. I don't know what the final total was for scoring chances on their top line, but those guys did a great job."
They did such a great job that the Islanders walked away with three goals and free chili for their fans from Wendy's. Everyone please remember to ask for it today. And don't look at the lottery standings. Gordon doesn't.