Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stability in the Roster - Pt. 2

Stability, or the impression there may be some is basically what yesterday means to the NY Islanders as an NHL franchise. According to Michael Picker, while the Islanders conversations with County Executive Ed Mangano regarding this plan had been going on for months, they “heated up in the last 8 days.”

the County and the organization were just sick and tired of having to answer the question “So what about that new arena?” with “There‘s nothing new to say” that prompted the hasty presser. At least now there is something to say. While the conversations with County Executive Ed Mangano had been going on for months, they “heated up in the last 8 days.” It seems the only ones Mr. Mangano didn’t speak to were the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. Details, details.

With the NHL itself reiterating Charles Wang’s stance that the New York Islanders will not play in the current Coliseum one minute more than they are required to, while Mr. Wang refused to say this was the last hope the Islanders have of staying on the Island, it probably is. When asked what would happen if Mangano’s plan was not approved by NIFA or the residents of Nassau County, he said he didn’t want to think about it, but of course there is a plan B. There is always a plan B. But yesterday’s message was “I’m very confident and optimistic.”

Perhaps Mr. Wang is optimistic about the team because without the 20 game slide, “from December 16th to the end of the season, in our conference, I think we had the second best record. Which says something about what we’ve been building.” Newsday’s Katie Strang asked Mr. Wang if his commitment to the team has changed in any way. That took him aback. “I’ve never wavered in my commitment. I’m not quite sure of the question. Have I changed my commitment? I don’t know, can I have MORE commitment?”

Hardly. Could there be more of a commitment than losing millions yearly just to keep the team on Long Island. “My first priority, and I’ve said this from day one (and about five times yesterday morning); let’s get a new arena and let’s keep the Islanders here.” He continued, “This is all about a great major league professional sports team right here in our home.”

From the Hockey standpoint, two of the hockey world’s most productive outcasts who have found a home on the Islanders were there to lend their support. Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner (the only one who didn’t get the dark suit memo). Also on hand were Mike Motteau and Mark Eaton (who have seen more rehab facilities than Long Island landmarks) and Andy MacDonald. However, to make up for that, Nassau County resident Rick DiPietro was also in attendance. Rick was happy to address the media.

While he is “extremely excited” he knows there are still a lot of things that need to be approved before the team can even dream of skating in a state-of-the-art building. “I’m excited for everyone involved. I know the people of Long Island deserve it. I know Charles definitely deserves it.”

“Our job is to come here and win hockey games and win a Stanley Cup. That’s what we’re trying to do. This building will help us on that path.” But while Rick is excited about a new arena, he is equally excited about the possibility of having a minor league ball park a stone’s throw away from his office. He doesn’t hide his love of baseball. He’ll be there.

For the 180th time, Garth Snow was asked what the possibility of a new arena would do for his efforts in attracting free agents. He reiterated that players have turned down significantly higher contracts from the Islanders in order to go elsewhere and felt part of the issue was the instability with the arena decision. “

“As a player, the one thing you’re always concerned about is where am I going to be a year from or two years from now. That’s why today is such a special day for not only our organization, but for Nassau County and our fans.” When asked if he can use it to sell a player on the team, he said “I think it eliminates doubt in a players mind.” Agents ask about the arena situation, at least now there is something new to say.

However, maybe the free-agent situation won’t be so difficult this season. “We’ve obviously gone through the toughest part of our rebuild. We feel we have a young nucleus in that locker room that can win hockey games. I don’t foresee too many drastic changes to our team.” I’m pretty sure the team likes hearing that. However, 2010’s 1st round draft pick Nino Niederreiter will still have to work hard in camp to make the roster

or his only option will be Portland. “That’s the great part of our group. We’ve got a strong crop of talented players that are going to grow together and we think they made significant strides last year as a team.”

It will be amazing to see what this young group does when the other players under contract are finally healthy. You hear me Mark Streit, Mike Motteau and Mark Eaton?

The off-season Islanders appearances will start off with Michael Grabner this Saturday at noon at the Islanders team store in Massapequa. According to Twitter , baby Gremlin may even make an appearance! But get there early! It’s only from Noon to 1 pm and the line fills up fast.

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