Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trade Rumors & Emotional Ownership

The 5 - 2 loss to the Devils was hard enough. The mood in the room was gloomy. They all knew the big mistake was letting the Devils get a two goal jump on them early in the first period. They were flat to start. No excuses.

It was PA Parenteau, who had his goal waived off after a zebra pow-wow but no war-room review, who had to endure the longest grilling by the reporters. The rest of the team seemed to be a little more hurried to hit the showers and escape the questioning.

The is how it seemed to be with Matt Moulson who, within an hour after the game, became the biggest NYI trade rumor subject.

Matt blew by me in the doorway to the locker room. Those big brown eyes of his can't hide his feelings. You could see he was upset and in an uncharacteristic matter, he said nothing to me as he passed.

Then again, most of them didn't say anything to me yesterday afternoon post game. Player after player that are normally jovial and engaging would make eye-contact, nod in acknowledgement, and then look away.

As I was driving home, listening to XM's Home Ice, they were talking about just this sort of thing: losing. Or should I say repetitive losing and what it does to the confidence level of the players and how they have to handle the media post game over and over again. Losing makes that very difficult. While these Islanders have shown glimmers of hope, they haven't been able to string together a respectable number of wins in order to keep them on a high.

Could that be the only reason Matt Moulson blew by me in the locker room? Or could something really be up with him? Eklund texted me just as I was pulling in my driveway, "Moulson to Boston? For Picks." Huh?

Trying to be glib about the matter I texted back "They will only move him if he insists on a price he is not worth. Garth doesn't like to get Snowed. Ha."

But that is the truth of the matter. Garth Snow is fair and reasonable, but don't try to bulldoze him. Ask Sean Bergenheim's ex-agent.

Moulson expressed his desire to stay on Long Island and remain an Islander in Katie Strang's Newsday article that appeared in the paper on Monday. But Matt has handed the situation to his agent. "That's why they get the big bucks." And while it is reported that dialogue has begun, TSN's Bob McKenzie (and others) has reported that real negotiations have not.

The facts are, Matt has not been able to produce these past few weeks. He is not playing up to his potential. Could it be that the weight of a contract extension is weighing on his mind? During yesterday's game against the Devils, Jack Capuano moved Moulson off JT's line during the power play. Was that a message or just an effort to prod him into production?

Last season, Matt Moulson was the Islanders best Cinderella story. He received the most feel-good ink for his story and was asked to appear on various non-MSG outlets to represent the Islanders. (Remember his appearance on that Versus show and his stint at the desk with Deb Placey on the Blackberry NHL All Access web show?) There doesn't seem to be a glass slipper laying around this season.

After narrowly avoiding arbitration and signing a one year deal, this was a "make-it-or-break-it" season for Matt in this "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" ruthless business that we love. This year's trade deadline is February 28th. Changes will be made and Moulson may be one of them. It is possible.

Now, that's the hard part. I've said time and again, if Matt Moulson signs a three-year deal, I'm changing the number on my necklace. That's how much emotional ownership I have taken over him. Emotional ownership that clubs WANT fans to take. But it leaves one vulnerable to heartbreak.

After yesterday's text exchange with Eklund, and reading MSM on Twitter take up the subject, I emailed the man in change but to no avail.

This is the hardest part of this sport. We become familiar with them, we learn their stories, we build relationships. Then, sometimes, we watch them move on for the sake of the business at hand. And the business is one of winning.

If it is deemed that moving Moulson is best for the team, then that's what it has to be. But I can guarantee you this -- I will wear black to every game from that point on because I will obviously be in mourning.

ugh! I hate this part of the movie!


neilmairs said...

Moulson is still on track for another 30 goal season, and has continued to provide assists as JT's scoring improves. Matt is home grown and has delivered everything asked of him - if Snow doesn't resign him it would bring his entire plan into serious question in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, and what's worse is that Moulson is simply not the problem, and in my eyes its not Parenteau, Shremp or Grabner either, who I think are all keepers based on potential and glimmers of talent. We need a replacement for Weight who can lead and command both on and off the ice. KO is still young, and with both he and Streit not playing right now, who do the Isles turn to on the ice? This is where a guy like Richard Park may have made a big difference. We need a sound, play making or scoring leader who can help the aforementioned and JT really live up to their potential.

Tim said...

It would be a sad day if Moulson is traded. JT and Moulson belong together, not playing against each other. Its not the time to risk losing a talented player for draft picks that definitly are risks. He wants to stay! LET HIM!! He is incredibly talented, one of our most talented players.

JP in NJ said...

No one is untouchable on this team except JT. It would be sad to see MM go, if it came to that, but if the right deal came along...

PS -- Just wanted to compliment the blog. I enjoy how you report the team news, while also keeping things at a very human level with the players. Clearly a labor of love. Keep up the good work.

JP in NJ,
aka @fogbuster

7th Woman said...

Thank You JP. You made my night. :o)

Joey V said...

Great article Dee.

You really touched on a big fact with this team. Although the on-ice product can be deemed "less-than-satisfactory" this is the nicest group of guys we've had on the Island in a lonnnnng time. From Robbie to Zen to Matty(even Wiz in the beginning of the season, who was a SWEETHEART) this team's personality makes it easy to root for. If Matt gets sent packing(and I truly hope he doesn't) it'll be a tough pill to swallow. And if that is the case I just hope Garth nets us a decent