Saturday, October 10, 2009

A sign of things to come.

“Anyone who needs to drink more than 24 cans of beer in a day to have a good time is not welcome."

Now, I am skipping over any coverage of opening night because I can't tell you anything you didn't know. Guess what--the Rook scored. Two points on the night. The Isles lost.

I had a ride to the game, but because I don't feel like spending the night on a piss line, I tried not to drink too much. But it's damn good to know that I could have drank my penis off if I'd wanted to. But from the land of intoxication comes a story of men having their beer curtailed. A cautionary tale from Australia:,25197,24307527-26103,00.html

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Near Eve

I used to spend more time with the hockey video games, playing at least three or four complete seasons each year in college, editing every single player in the revelatory NHL 2k3, and conducting weekend "legends" tournaments alongside my regular season in ESPN NHL Hockey.

EA's NHL 10 is the best, by far, of all of the hockey games I've ever played, and I've barely made it past the second period of about 12 games so far. Such is the world of parenthood.

Thanks to the Internet, and some finely honed Geeking skills, I've popped in some pretty good sliders, found the "ultimate" rosters (although ultimate sometimes means John Tavares is centering the Isles' first line), and enjoyed what I can to this point. This afternoon, with the day off from work and the boys sleeping, I managed a 0-0 draw through 37 minutes with the Oilers, only to have a wrist shot hop over Rick D's (I'll probably do the properly sim/dork thing and start Biron to start my "season") shoulder at the exact moment a bedroom door opened and "good morning!" echoed through the house.

Tonight, I will get the bastards back, at least for a period or so ... .

As realistically non-realistic as NHL 10 is, it can't really tell us anything about the state of the Islanders, although my lack of finish on the sticks draws an eerie parallel to the boys in royal blue (I never, never use the "new" jerseys, always sticking with the soon-to-be mainstream alternate). Still, it's fun to think my trance-like repose in front of the sorely out-of-date SDTV might give us some glimpse into the coming season.

A few things I've noticed.

1. The Isles can skate with just about any team, but not Evgeni Malkin.

2. No Finnish. Even the probably-overrated-estimated-we-just-don't-know Tavares CAP can't bury anything but wide-open chances. Thankfully there's Mark Streit and a generous deflection engine.

3. We're going to lose every single fight this season. Or, I need to practice this new fighting system, which makes no sense to me right now.

4. The Ramones will bring the Isles out onto the ice at the newly named "Long Island Arena" every home game. Or not. (wishful thinking)

5. We. will. get. Dion. Phaneuf.

Saturday Night

Because sometimes the stars align even for one of the world's least-connected people, me, the Mediocre One and I have managed to get ahold of some veddy goot tickets for the home opener. No liveblogging, but I will get back on Sunday with the full report.

I haven't been this excited for a hockey game since I went to a bar in Ithaca to watch game five of the 2002 playoffs against the Leafs. I spent the whole night standing under a tiny television, crowding a table full of college students watching basketball on the "big" TV, clutching a series of beers, and yelling at some poor college kid who had the nerve to come down from Cornell to watch the game alone and root for the Leafs in my presence on that fateful, stupid night.

I'm pretty sure I told him he had "personally disgusted me and ruined hockey for at least five years in one fell swoop with his sickening display of ignorance, cockiness, and stupidity." And I'm pretty sure that was in reaction to one muted fist pump when the game finally ended. And then he ran out and my friends roped me into playing pool while I bitched and challenged them to "man up!" and play bubble hockey.


Here's the songs my kids demand to hear when the snow starts to fall.

See you Saturday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mark Streit: not Dion Phaneuf

Jaffe doesn't like it. But he didn't skate away like little Celine either. (see what I did there?)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hey, we have a blog

First, good to have hockey back. I spent an hour yesterday watching fights, reading about NHL 10, and looking for Google images of the Broome Dusters.

We're off to a quick start
"Keep your head up, or something," said the hockey fan. We hear that 15 to 20 times a year now, as we sort through the wreckage of another hit to the head. Dion Phaneuf hit Kyle Oh!poso last night, in a game you likely didn't see, but have been reading about all day if you're sick like me and not doing a shit's bit worth of work. Puck Daddy is dissecting.

I'm going to ignore most of the central debates because they've been covered pretty well by Puck Daddy, by the more lucid reader's comments, and by other voices in the web-o-sphere. That said, I think it was a legal hit of a defenseless player, and it should have been answered with a crosscheck to Phaneuf's forehead.

Phaneuf is garbage, but some Isles fans are delusional
Chris Pronger does this shit. Phaneuf does this shit routinely. Lesser names do the same shit hoping they'll get paid the same as Phaneuf or Pronger. It is part of the game.

But so is this: fighting.

Phaneuf is garbage for backing out of the fight with Morency. He's not dumb, he's just garbage. And if you've already written somewhere on the web that you think it's shit when a "clean hit" is answered with a fight, you're garbage too.

When the fuck should players fight? Because "when you're angry because someone just laid out a teammate" seems like a pretty fucking good time to fight to me. I think it's a lot better time than "when you're bored" or "when your team is losing and you haven't played in 22 minutes." Blatant cheap shots and borderline massive hits that leave people semi-conscious or knocked out cold (which usually look like cheap shots in the heat of the moment) are, I would think, the most ideal times of all to drop the gloves. So kudos to Morency, and fuck you, Phaneuf.

I'm going to jerk off to Elisha Cuthbert tonight. And that's the crudest thing I can think of right now. I need some coffee.

Isles fans: stop
"I'm growing to hate Scott Gordon and Garth Snow for not having a goon. This would have never happened with Cairns on the ice!!!!"


Dion Phaneuf is 6'3", 214 lbs. He hits the shit out of people, albeit sometimes when they're being checked by two of his teammates, one of whom already crosschecked him from behind. And sometimes he even fights. He gets paid millions of dollars to do this.

Do you really, really think having Don Brashear on the bench would have stopped Phaneuf from blindsiding Oh!poso? Motherfucker wouldn't even fight Morency, who (ok, he's a bit of hopeful fighter, but still) checks in at 5'10", 196 lbs. And he didn't have to. Brashear comes over the boards and Phaneuf would skate until the ice melted.

This team needs to get good at hockey. They will do this by bringing in good players. If those good players exhibit some toughness, that's wonderful. And they are auditioning some middle/upper-middle weights.

You don't need a full-fledged heavyweight in the NHL. Most of the guys taking cheap shots at your best players are shitheads like Phaneuf, or other middleweights who a) get some ice time, or b) think they're "pests." Pests run away from heavyweights. You keep a couple of mid-level guys around to punch Sean Avery and, I think, that's enough.

Anyway, welcome back hockey.

Here's to hoping Kyle O is 100 percent. Go Isles.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Didn’t take long for the New York sports writers to jump on the Tavares train… And run it off the rails. And it wasn’t just Tavares, they went after the second pick also. Here’s some recent headlines:

“Fans, Keep the Tavares Expectations Realistic”

"Analysis: Will Isles' decision not to add Kassian backfire?"

“Michael Jackson: The Wounds, The Broken Heart”

These were all from Newsday, by the way. Even the Post didn’t take any shots at the Islanders.

The top headline includes a list of players that Tavares definitely will not and probably won’t be as good as. This includes Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin. Fine, I can deal with that, but the list goes on to include Zigmund Palffy and Steven Stamkos. I’m not saying that JT is going to be the second coming but let’s not kill the poor kids before the week is out. And other than the top three picks, it’s a crap shoot. I did some looking back at previous draft years and even the 1st round is a “Who? WHO?” list of also-rans.

Arthur Staple goes on to say that the Islanders "didn't have a clear-cut star to take at the top of the draft." Having the top Canadian junior league change the rules because of you and then to turn around and smash "The Great One's" junior scoring record counts as being a star, just so we're all clear.

Garth seems to have made some smart decisions that I can definitely live with as much as at the time I may not have been impressed (Bailey, Streit). So I’m going to put aside my negativity until it's proven that the Islanders made some bad mistakes.

And as for Tavares’ future—what the hell do I know about scouting? I'm just looking at the numbers and going with what everyone has said about the kid. And I haven't seen a reason to go negative yet.

Thanks to for the picture.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again

And breathe out...

The Mediocre One and I arrived at the Coliseum around 6, with the hazy sun beating down. After we were inside for about a half-hour, we stepped out to the concourse and saw this:

Not a good sign. My stomach started to churn a little more.

There were lots of people milling around the Coliseum floor, so we didn't stay there too long. We had some brief thoughts of buying some cheap merch (until I realized the line was way too long to wait on, especially for a Shawn Bates nameplate and a Dave Scatchard shirt) and taking a locker room tour (until, again, it was hard to justify waiting in a line that long just to gaze upon Tim Jackman and Dean Chynoweth, especially since I'd seen the locker room during last year's draft party debacle, where there were no lines at all). Instead, the Mediocre One grabbed a beer and I took some atmospheric photos.

Nice touch, putting the organ on the floor:

Here's Disco Chris King:

And, for Howie, a nice posed photo of Billy Jaffe:

Mike Bossy in the house:

There were plenty of jersey fouls to be seen:

And the relaying of word from Washington:

Then, we sat down and prepared for whatever the hell was coming. TMO called up Rev. Zamboni, who relayed the information that Colorado seemed convinced the Isles would take Duchene. This did not bode well for our safety, as every time Duchene appeared on the big screen, boos rained down (Hedman got his fair share too, but he at least seemed to have some supporters). We made note of the nearest exit.

As 7:00 drew nearer, I began to develop that feeling I get in the pit of my stomach prior to almost every Islanders-Rangers game. It is the feeling that something completely horrible is reasonably certain to happen, and when it does, there will be endless rounds of mockery that follow. TMO stated that he was feeling a bit uneasy, too.

After Bettman's standard long-winded introduction, it was go time. With TMO keeping the Rev informed over the phone, I was in charge of capturing the moment of euphoria/dismantling of the Nassau Coliseum. And it was exactly like this (sorry for the bad sound, but I think I captured the spirit of the thing):

And all was right with the world.

We stuck around to see if the Tavares interview was forthcoming, but I had a train to catch (thanks for the lift, TMO), so we bolted. I shared the good news with the LIRR ticket taker on the Hempstead train, and then another ticket taker broke the news that the Isles had traded up, which didn't surprise me. By the time I made it to Connolly's in NYC to see my friend's band (10 minutes to spare), the Isles had traded up again and selected a guy I'd never heard of (though, based on my knowledge of college and junior hockey, that's not such an amazing feat). I still don't know much about Calvin de Haan, or why the Isles were so high on him that they were willing to let so many picks go, but I'm not gonna think too much about it.

Why? Because for one night, things went as they should for the New York Islanders. Ten thousand Islander fans (their estimate...I'd place it a little lower) celebrated a happy occasion (I'd think even the Hedman supporters--and the Duchene backers, assuming there were some--were somewhat happy). People who'd been waiting for a reason to erupt finally got it.

And that's enough for today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

We Live In Hope

We hope that our team doesn't move to Kansas City.

We hope that Rick DiPietro plays a full season someday.

We hope that Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey turn out to be superstars, or at least not Dave Chyzowski and Brett Lindros.

We hope that Alexei Yashin is sorry for what he did (or, rather, didn't do).

We hope that we can one day hold our heads up high and not be the punchline to every joke.

And we hope that when all the clouds of secrecy disappear, Garth Snow and the Islanders step up to the podium and pick John Tavares tomorrow night. Not necessarily because he's the best player (though he probably is). Not because Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene are much more inferior players (by all accounts, they're probably not). But because it is what must be done.

If the scouts are to be believed, Hedman and Duchene will both have long, successful careers in the NHL. And I wish them the best (unless they find themselves on the Rangers at some point in their careers). But, for the Islanders, and the fans who will gather at the draft party Friday night (you can say the draft party has no impact on the decision the Isles make, Garth, but you'll be whistling a different tune when the fans start beating Sparky the Dragon with sticks), the choice has to be Tavares. It is the safe choice. It is the best choice. It is the right choice.

Please, Garth, please.

The Palm Isle will have representatives at the draft party. I'll be there until right after the pick is made, at which point I have to dart to the train to get back to the city to see my friends' band play (bros before Snow, that's how I roll), but I believe The Mediocre One will be staying a bit longer. In any event, one or both of us should have a recap up over the weekend.

[ADDENDUM: I do not speak for our most celebrated Palm Isle denizen, The Rev. Zamboni, who has declared himself a Hedman supporter. Of course, he will not be in the Nassau Coliseum at 7:15 Friday night, so his declaration is understandable. I just want to live to see 33.]

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Brush with Fame

To all our loyal readers, you probably saw my twitter experiment. I'm a very lonely person. None the less, about a day after signing up for the account, none other than the New York Islanders twitter account was following me! (To the uninitiated, this was the cyber version of the Islanders picking me up at the airport or helping me move into a new place) All I could figure out is that someone from the Islanders organization actually takes this blog seriously enough to check up on regularly. Well, to make a long story short, they quickly stopped following me and I am now being followed by Ranger scum, "Uncle Greaseball." Play me off, kitty...

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Mediocre One Sells Out

Follow me on twitter for game seven:

I'm guessing I get bored at about 10 minutes of the first, but what the hell.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Hope You're All Happy

You've pissed off Charles Wang. Great. I guess there's a bureaucracy to building a new city. And now he's turning into the corporate, team owner version of The Hulk.

It doesn't look good for the Lighthouse. I am disappointed in the failure of the project. I know other Islander fans are upset mainly because the team might move. And I think that's the biggest point. It's about the team. If you can find widespread disappointment that the project is getting flushed unrelated to the team then I'd more surprised than a Caps fan sitting behind John Tortorella. But threatening to move a beloved team just because the town didn't move quickly on your proposal seems like a heavy price to pay. But it looks that way so TAKE THAT, LONG ISLANDERS for being too narrow minded to understand Wangs proposal.

But seriously, how many times have you been sitting around with people talking about how fast a construction project was moving along? Or how fast the government approves things? Maybe Wang has to take a couple more trips to the DMV or talk to someone who's waiting for their tax return. I know the guy has lost a ton of dough and I do feel for him, but the team just finished last in the NHL and has been pretty miserable for a long time. Maybe that has something to do with the losing money thing? A couple more years and you won't be able to get a ticket for a game on Saturday night. Mr. Wang, if you somehow get drunk and mistakenly find this site let me just ask you for two more years before you decide to move the team. Two years from now they're going to be solid. Real solid. The draft picks will be mature and the team will be supported by the 1.3 million people in Nassau County as opposed to the 475,000 people in Kansas City.

Well, here's still hoping for the arena of the future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gloating Is So Immature and Unbecoming...

...but, ultimately, a lot of fun. So, cue the chicken:


Welcome to the off-season, Rangers. Come join us on the golf course (please tell Mr. Tortorella to stay home, because there might be taunting, and, truth be told, we don't trust him with a golf club).

So far, everything's come up roses for the Isles since the season ended: they won the lottery; the Pens won, so they get a better draft pick; the Sharks lost, so their late-first rounder is as high as could've been expected; and both local teams lost crushing Game 7s, with the Rangers' collapse one for the ages.


Making the Rounds UPDATED

The Rangers have found their way into the NY media. And that's no small feat considering both the Mets and Yankees stink and there was a big story for the Jets coming out of the NFL draft. Big-time Ranger fan Boomer Esiason with partner Craig Carton of WFAN talk about the Rangers and Glen Sather's letter. Take a listen

Update 4/28: All attempts to link to the clip have failed. If you want a listen, go to the WFAN home page ( and navigate to the Carton and Boomer page. Listen to "Blueshirt Cry Babies"

While you're listening to audio clips, check out this beauty between Torts and Brooks.

And if you're still around, here's an interview with everyone's favorite undershirt wearing Caps fan.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Dear Gary Letter

I missed this, but apparently Glen Sather wrote a letter to the league which actually includes this sentence regarding the Game 5 situation with the fans: "According to Rangers trainer Jim Ramsay, one patron was screaming at the team, in graphic language, about whether Dan Girardi and Marc Staal have a sexual relationship. "

No matter who wins Game 7, that's gold.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Game 5 was nothing short of a godsend. Perhaps you all saw the game, but I have to preserve some of these moments all in one place.

First off, having Ranger favorite and chief punk Sean Avery benched was great news. Already things were looking up.

Early in the 1st, some guy named Bradley scores a shortie after some sloppy blue line and neutral zone play by the Rags.

Next we had a really weak goal let in by "the King."

But things were just getting started...

"Ohh! Ohh! Vechkin!"

"The King" abdicated for the third period. That's when I thought it couldn't get any better. I was wrong.

And now Torts gets suspended. Here's a great point made by Puck Daddy.

It's never felt so good to hate the Rangers.

And as long as I'm assembling a short history of game 5, here's some tweets from everyone's favorite spaghetti-bending Ranger fan:

Did Tom Renney sneak into the Verizon Center wearing a Torts suit tonight? Shorty & a too many men penalty? Not a good sign..."

"Holy crap. Matt Bradley WTF? #Rangers

Anyway, Jim Schonfield will be behind the bench for the Rangers. Lord nothing interesting could come of that... Oh, hell. Here it is for old time's sake:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Help us out

The Islanders finished last in the league, the Sound Tigers got bounced in the first round of the AHL playoffs, and the Rangers are one win away from making it to the second round of the NHL playoffs. Things are grim in Islanders Country.

So, please, please let's take the announcer's advice in the clip below and let John Tortorella fight the "overserved" (and seen in the second clip) gentleman in the white T-shirt. Because, win or lose, that would be one entertaining fight.

If that guy's not available, I'll also watch a fight between Tortorella and the guy with the mohawk.

Thank you for your consideration.

(h/t to Puck Daddy)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Rewards of Fandom

Though I stand by my statement that this past season (and it is exciting to refer to it as past) was not nearly the worst I've experienced as an Islanders fan, I would be foolish to admit that it wasn't a tough one. It's not exciting to see the team you like finish dead last, and to have to hear the subsequent derisive (I'm using big words so the Rangers fans don't read this) comments from fans of teams who are in the playoffs. It's not easy to sit through a season of trash talking when you don't really have a great comeback. It's not fun to receive an e-mail from Ticketmaster breathlessly urging you to "Score great Playoffs seats & cheer your team to the Stanley Cup,' which I received on Friday.

But if you can make it through all that and still stick around, you will be rewarded. I know this now, because I got my reward Friday night, when The Mediocre One and I attended game 1 of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton AHL playoff series at the Nassau Coliseum (lovingly described by a drunken fan wearing a Mick Vukota jersey at the last Islanders game we went to as "like a Kiss concert in 1978").

We got to the game a little late and missed the first goal, but luckily our arrival to our third-row corner seats ($19 each!) didn't disturb anyone. This was mainly because there weren't that many people to disturb and the people behind us were the most annoying bunch of children I've ever sat near at a hockey game. Toward the end of the game, one of them revealed himself as a Rangers fan and started debating that the Rangers' legacy was more storied than the Islanders and, for a second there, it seemed like the man in the front row was going to lose it. But he kept himself in check, though he was probably tired from yelling at the guy in the Gretzky Rangers hat, who, incongruously, seemed to be a Sound Tigers---or at least a Pascal Morency--fan. That man also withstood a confrontation with Sparky.

Another top-notch fan in our section was right up against the glass. And, at several points during the game, particularly in the pre-period skates, also up against the glass was his Yankees hat. For reasons neither TMO nor I could figure out, he would press his Yankees hat against the glass, bang on the glass, and try to get players to respond. The Mediocre One first saw this behavior while I was walking on the concourse prior to the second period (and what a walk it was...just wait). He said Jon Sim was the recipient of the Yankee Treatment, and it was one of the more confusing things he's ever seen. It sounded odd to me, but the true oddness of it didn't settle in until I saw it for myself prior to the third period. The Yankees fan got a couple of guys to look over and then hit paydirt when Penguin Paul Bissonette skated by, took a look at the hat, and then seemed to get angrier as he skated away. And by the time he was on the other side of the ice, he was yelling at the Yankees fan and was visibly upset. You probably had to be there, but it was one of the funnier (and odder) things I've seen at a hockey game.

But let's get back to my reward. No, it wasn't a Sound Tiger victory (they lost 3-2 and, in fact, lost Game 2 as well and now head to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight down 2-0). No, it wasn't hearing the "Sound Tiger Rowwwwwwwrrrrrrr" that is heard in Bridgeport when a Sound Tiger scores (they foolishly didn't bring that sound effect to Long Island). No, it wasn't seeing Kyle Okposo skate up close and see how strong he is on his skates (he dragged a guy almost all the way down the boards after he was checked in the offensive zone). No, my reward came as I was heading back to my seat as the second period began. The Mediocre One had decided to stay in his seat, so I was alone when I came around a bend and spotted The Man.

Yessir, last Friday night, I met Mitch Fritz.

He was taking pictures with kids as I came near (the above GQ photo was snapped after one of the kid photos, as I tried to control my excitement), and I debated just how embarrassing it would be to grab a total stranger on the concourse and ask that person to take a picture of me and Mr. Fritz. Then I realized that I had just essentially had him pose for a picture on the concourse, so how much more embarrassing could a picture with him possibly be? So I headed to what I think was a father and son, and the son obliged (I'm not sure they even knew who the other guy was, as hard as that may be to believe). After the photo, I managed to sputter out something that went like this:

Me: Man, you're, like, a hero, on our blog.

Mr. Mitch Fritz: What's that?

Me: My friends and I have a blog called the Palm Isle. It's a "Slap Shot" reference.

Mr. Mitch Fritz: Oh, cool.

Me: Yeah, and at the beginning of the season, I decided that you had the perfect chantable name.

Mr. Mitch Fritz: Yeah, I've heard that.

Me: All right, cool. Thanks. I hope you're back next year.

Mr. Mitch Fritz: Yeah, me too.

While I hope the Sound Tigers rebound and I get a chance to see them play again this year, if Friday night was the last hockey game I see this season, at least it ended on a high note.

Mitch Fritz! (Clap! Clap!) Mitch Fritz! (Clap! Clap!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You know what?

Fuck all of them.

Fuck Brian Burke and every Toronto fan who thinks it's such a crying shame that Looonnnnggg Isssllaaannddd, and not their pathetic fucking franchise, gets to draft a real hockey player. Fuck you. Fuck you all. This is how it works. Just like you got Luke Schenn, we get Tavares.

Fuck the Canadian media. Not all of you, but the ones who think Long Island hockey fans are somehow worthless compared to the exalted hockey fans of Toronto/Canada. Fuck you.

I will repeat: It is as easy to be a hockey fan in Canada as it is to be a baseball/football fan in America. It takes zero effort. Zero. Zero. Fashionable, trend-seeking, cock-chasing chump fucks watch hockey in Toronto because it is the thing to do, just like every asshole with a TV in America thinks he's a die-hard NFL fan. Go fuck: you arrogant, over-concussed assholes.

Tavares is coming to Long Island. The Islanders are going to be good. And you're going to fucking hate it.

Fuck you.

I posted this on a message board earlier today after being told the Islanders didn't deserve Tavares because the team doesn't have loyal fans:

"Loyal fan base = too stupid to realize there is more to life than spending money to watch a bad hockey team. See: Maple Leafs

It's that kind of newly prevalent mentality -- you've got to fill up the arena every night or you're not loyal -- that makes me want to largely ignore sports all together. I don't want to live hockey (or football/basketball/baseball), I want to watch it. And I watch the Isles when they're awful, as well as when they're decent, even when the owner is making mistakes trying to make the team better, the building better, and gasp! make some money. And sometimes I don't, because I'm busy. Can I still come back?

You buy a hat, check the message boards, watch the TV, go to a game or two every year -- you're loyal. And if you're not loyal, I applaud you. I applaud Long Island fans for filling the building when the team is good, and keeping it under capacity when it sucks. You speak with your wallet and your time. And when you wanna go, you're still welcome in the rink as far as I'm concerned.

There will be plenty of people there to see Tavares. And Charles Wang will build his crazy-ass mini-city (which a voting majority of Long Islanders seem to support -- holding them hostage? huh? the county supports it. the voters support it. do a quick google search on Kate Murray/Lighthouse, she recently floated the idea of federal stimulus funds being used to rebuild the Coliseum -- she's a little loopy).

Anyway, I'm wandering off-topic. Isles fans are good hockey fans. There isn't a lot of them (us), but they do support the team, go to games when they can, buy jerseys, hats, hate the Rangers, etc. And they're (we're) excited to get Tavares. Let us have that for a few days.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Preseason is over: Thoughts on the upcoming Season

Next year it begins in earnest. For realsy.

Here are the things I'm looking out for in the 09-10 season. First, the health of the team. I think the Isles had a few things going against them this year. Some of the usual suspects got injured for stretches (DiPietro, Martinek). They also had some bad luck with timing and I don't think they were rushing people back into the lineup. We'll see how these guys can turn the injury trend around next season.

Second, I'm sure they're going to take things a little more seriously. If Tampa Bay had their best defensive defenseman taking overtime shootouts, I would be sceaming. I know this was a fun season and they were trying some odd things out, but Witt on the penalty shot seemed like a bit much. Situations like that will be different next season which should add some more points to the total by the end of the season.

Third, nothing crashes quite as hard as expectations for sports teams in the NY area. Unless you're the friggin' Devils. Next year there will be a lot of pressure on the team to peform and everyone should be eying the playoffs. If they fall significantly short of the playoffs, it will be a disapointment. That can be a lot of pressure on a team that is already hearing whispers of a move. Let's see if the young guys can handle it.

And now for tomorrows draft lottery.

Why the Draft Doesn't Matter
I've made a big deal about the Islanders landing number 91. However, I'm really not going to lose sleep over the draft lottery courtesy of the NHL salary cap. Players switch teams constantly in this league and there's always going to be a great player ready to be scooped up by a big spender. Including, perhaps, Tavares down the road. If the NHL had a system that rewarded good draft picks, things would be different. But it's nearly impossible to keep good players so why even bother drafting them? Either that or superstars soak up so much of the cap room it makes it tough to field good role players around them. I'm still rooting for a 1st overall pick, but the NHL needs to rethink its cap.

Alright, I've got some stuff to do but I wanted to cap the season. I'm going to try and find some time to rate some of the season previews and predictions but don't hold your breath. It may be a June post...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Make the IL DIVO picture go away

I was just getting tired of that other picture.

Apparently tonight was worst loss in Islanders history. Grizzly balls. I was more pissed that I couldn't watch despite having Jiggs back. And I keep thinking about that guy Mr. Bad Example saw at a game a couple weeks ago with a Danis jersey. I like the kid, but talk about jumping the gun. In fact I still like everyone for the moment. We'll see how things are next year when I have expectations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Make the IL DIVO Commercials Stop

Like Reservoir Dogs except they fight over who gets to be Mr. Pink. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Can someone please buy all the tickets to this f*&^ing show so I don't have to see or hear about it anymore? I mean really, this is not Carnegie Hall--it's the Nassau goddamn Veterans Memorial Coliseum. If two months of constant advertising doesn't sell out a venue then maybe it's time to hang up the viking helmet and die. Please.

Monday, March 23, 2009

From a Bubblehead to a Bobblehead

How do you follow up Ron Duguay Night? Easy. You head to Jeff Tambellini Bobblehead Night in Bridgeport.

I'm neither a huge bobblehead collector (the collection consists of a generic Mexican wrestler, Endy Chavez, and baseball play-by-play guy Warner Fusselle) nor really that much of a Jeff Tambellini fan (I want to be, really I do, especially since he wears my lucky number, 15), but I figured I'd make a hockey weekend out of it and take in the Sound Tigers' third game in three nights. Sunday's game found the Islanders JV taking on the Buffalo Sabres' farm team, the Portland Pirates. And, since I've been following the lineup for a few weeks, I was fully prepared for Mitch Fritz being a healthy scratch—not happy, but prepared.

I really like going out to Bridgeport (mainly because of the easy access via Metro-North, but also to see how the young guys—or, this season, just the guys—are doing), but since it is a bit of a hike from home base (about two hours door-to-door), I'm usually best served by the Sunday games, which have an earlier start time. Unfortunately, because this is the AHL, the Sunday game is usually a club's third in three nights, so play can be a little sluggish. This game started off well enough, though, with the Sound Tigers putting three on the board in the first period, and new Sound Tiger Robin Figren picking up his first AHL point. I'd briefly met Figren, a 2006 Isles draft pick, at the thoroughly depressing 2008 Draft Party at the Coliseum, so it was kind of cool to be there when he made it on the score sheet for the first time. He's still clearly feeling his way in the new league and he looks like a kid out there (he's only 20, so that makes sense), but, with any luck, good times are ahead for him.

The score at the end of the first was 3-1, with the Pirates' goal coming off some sloppy play in his own zone by the man who now officially (I'm the official, in case you were wondering) has "Poor" added to his name. I am, of course, referring to Poor Jon Sim, the man who has been waived twice and will likely be spending the rest of the season and the playoffs on the Sound Tigers (he's been piling up the goals since being sent down, though...he has 8 in 10 games). I liked Sim as an Islander and, while I understand that he doesn't fit in Gordon's youth movement, he always seemed like a decent, hard-working guy. It's hard to believe that no NHL team could use a guy like him (and I reckon he feels the same), and I can't imagine that PJS is thrilled to be toiling in the AHL at this point in his career (perhaps he can be the poster boy for a new "Dying in Bridgeport" ad campaign to bookend the "Born in Bridgeport" one. I hope good times are ahead—somewhere, anywhere on the NHL—for him, too.

Hewing close to the Islander work ethic, the Sound Tigers decided to take most of a period off—in this case, the second, where Portland scored two as the Islanders JV did little to stop them. But after killing off a five-on-three, the Sound Tigers got a power-play goal themselves, with Jeremy Colliton finding Sean Bentivoglio as he was sprung from the penalty box. That goal turned out to be the decisive one, as the third period got a little sluggish on both ends. But during the third period, I did spot Mitch Fritz up in one of the boxes, so that was a highlight. I also spent some of the game hoping to spot winning goaltender Peter Mannino's hot girlfriend, but no such luck.

I actually had the opportunity to get a genuine Mitch Fritz game-worn training camp jersey in the silent auction, but when bidding got into the $200 range, I realized that dream was not going to come true (apparently Fritz is way more popular than Jon Hein). I also passed on waiting to get Jeff Tambellini to sign the bobblehead because it was a long line and the trains only run once an hour (and if I took the later train, I wouldn't have been able to see who got booted off the "Rock of Love Bus"...fare thee well, Beverly). Plus, if it were signed, I'd feel much worse next year when I throw the bobblehead against the floor after Tambellini misses an open net. So I snapped this photo of him and Andrew MacDonald instead.

I nearly fell asleep reading on the train, as the hours of train and bus riding started to take its toll (I was continuing my valiant effort to read a complete David Foster Wallace book, though, so I may have drifted off to sleepyland regardless). But it felt good to have ignored March Madness and celebrated a hockey weekend instead.

Who needs brackets when you've got a 51-year-old guy with feathered hair and a bobblehead?

Rhetorical question. No need to answer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ooh La La

I'd been meaning to get out to see an Eastern Professional Hockey League game ever since the team set up a booth at a Cyclones game I attended last year. Hockey in Brooklyn? Sure, I'll check that out. Then I looked online and saw where exactly the Aviator Sports and Recreation Complex (the home ice of the Brooklyn Aces) was and, as a 32-year-old man without a driver's license, thought, "Well, maybe not." The Aviator Complex is in a part of Brooklyn best described as "Where Exactly Am I?" Or at least it seems that way when you don't have a car and are reliant on the subway and bus routes of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Similarly, if I wanted to see the Aces' rivals, our own Jersey Rockhoppers (apparently, a rockhopper is a penguin, because when you think Jersey, you think penguins), I would have to travel to West Orange, which is not a trip I want to make with NJ Transit.

Then, the Aces announced that they had signed "Hockey Night Live" sexpot Ron Duguay to a one-day contract, and he would be suiting up for a game against the Jersey Rockhoppers. Now, there's a reason to venture out into unknown territory. Then, to sweeten the pot, the Aces announced that the Howard Stern crew (well, those who could skate, and, based on the actual skating that took place, that was flexible) would be squaring off between the first and second intermission. It was go time.

When I asked the Q35 bus driver to let me know when we got to the Aviator Complex, all he said was "Oh, you'll know." And so, I did, as we came to an airport hangar-size building (the complex is part of Floyd Bennett Field, a decommissioned airport) that features two rinks, a basketball court, a rock-climbing wall, a bunch more stuff I didn't see, and surprisingly good pizza at the snack bar. There is no assigned seating for Aces games, save for the "skybox" seats above the ice, which, at $35, were out of my price range. So I plunked down $16 for a bleacher seat (those cold, uncomfortable steel benches that kids love to pound on, which becomes less charming with each passing second) and settled in for the game.

When the (naturally) helmetless Duguay initially took the ice, there was a pretty fair-sized pop. I was pleased to hear a well-fed Islanders fan begin to heckle Duguay during the ceremonial puck drop, urging him to come out to Nassau and see the banners and, of course, giving him a hearty "Ooh la la." The kids in his section seemed unimpressed and, perhaps, a bit confused. One can only hope that some parent's Saturday night was spent explaining that the older Ace without the helmet was once part of an ad campaign for designer jeans. And one can similarly hope that that child went to YouTube, found this


and is now ashamed to be a Rangers fan.

Duguay primarily took short shifts throughout, with a a few longer ones when whistles broke up the play. To his credit (and I don't enjoy giving Rangers credit), he didn't look out of place (except for, you know, the feathered hair and the earring) among the younger guys, and he even got a little dirty in the corner late in the third, getting a hearty roar from the crowd in the process. He was also strong on faceoffs, though perhaps his hair served as a distraction for the opposing player. Fortunately, further distraction was avoided when Duguay decided not to cut his jersey to show his chest hair.

It was a decent-sized crowd at the game, likely augmented by Duguay's appearance and not affected in the least, judging by the aggressive apathy that greeted the introduction of the Stern staffers at the first intermission, by the promise of seeing "Wrap-Up Show" host and "Jump The Shark" creator Jon Hein (whose physical appearance can best be described by the adjective "Keilloresque") and "The Intern Show" host Steve Brandano lace up the skates. I think I might have been one of three people clapping when they were introduced. And the cheers didn't exactly grow as they played (to be fair, though, I was on the less-populated side of the arena...a caller to the Monday-morning wrap-up show seemed to indicate that the other side of the arena was more into it).

The battle (never has a term been used more loosely), which also featured a guy wearing a Dell'Abate jersey who wasn't noted Islander fan Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate, Howard TV producer Doug Goodstein, and Private Parts coauthor and Village Irregular Larry "Ratso" Sloman (author of the best hockey book I've ever read, Thin Ice, about the Sasson-era Rangers, and the best Dylan book I've ever read, On the Road with Bob Dylan), ended 3-1, and all the goals were scored in the final two minutes when both goalies were pulled. It was ugly.

Luckily, Duguay was around to pretty everything up. And when he picked up a power-play assist on the game-tying goal in the final minute, the crowd ate it up. Alas, the Rockhoppers would not be denied their playoff-berth-clinching win, with Matt Puntureri putting in his second goal of the game with 30.7 seconds left in overtime. I'm not entirely clear about just how prestigious clinching a playoff berth in a four-team league is, especially when one of the four teams (the Hudson Valley Bears) has won three games out of 48 and let in 360 goals in that span. But it does mean that the Aces and Rockhoppers will meet in the best-of-three championship starting on Thursday. Go Rockhoppers! Make Jersey proud.

Duguay finished with an assist and a -1 and was scheduled to play for the Rockhoppers in today's season finale against the Danbury Mad Hatters, which I can't find stats for at the moment (I'll update later). In between, he joined his fellow Aces for a postgame autograph session. The line for said session eventually split into kids who don't care who Ron Duguay is and adults who at least kind of do (the latter included me, as I had him sign my NHL 75th anniversary book). As I was waiting in line, the guy in front of me noted the jersey in my hand and asked me which one I got. I told him that, though I bid on (and won...35 bucks) Jon Hein's "game-worn" jersey, the guys had apparently taken their jerseys with them, so I was told I could either wait for the team to get the jersey back and have them mail it to me or take one of the unused ones they had. Deciding that I didn't really want Jon Hein's jersey anyway (it was for charity, and there were no bidders), I jumped at an unused one. The guy on line seemed to think this was an awful decision.

"Game-worn. That's what they're all about these days. Game-worn," he said.

"Yeah, well, it's barely game-worn," I replied.

"Well, I guess that's true."

I got the sense that he still thought I was a fool. And when the Jon Hein game-worn memorabilia market skyrockets, I guess I'll think I was a fool, too.

On the bus back to the subway station (to the PATH station to home), I noticed two young kids with, I assume, their dad. Both of them were still clearly on a hockey high, but the older one was staring at his photo signed by the Aces as if it were the Golden Ticket, moving it around in his hands to look at every last signature. I'm almost certain he didn't care about Ron Duguay. He was just happy to have met and got autographs from the guys in uniforms he just saw play.

It was a nice image to take on the long journey home.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This is how it should be

I think Mr. Bad Example was layering on a bit of sarcasm this weekend when he wrote via e-mail that, "this is easily the most enjoyable Islanders season since 2001-2002." But if this plan works, and someday we are looking back to 2008-2009 through the gentle haze of Stanley-colored glasses (Ok, even "Eastern Conference finals-colored" glasses), I think we will say this was at least a satisfying season in the larger context.

I understand the race to the bottom. Considering the economic structure of the league, the Islanders were in the best position to perform the full rebuild in the post-Ted era. I always have preferred the approach of the Red Wings-esque franchises that make it a priority to get good and then build from hidden draft picks, smart free-agent management, etc. But, well ... no shit, right? Who doesn't?

The Isles are doing it (mostly) correctly. Stocking up on draft picks. Not getting attached to veterans, except the handful who can handle being part of a rebuild, with all of the setting aside of professional pride that may entail. And then, of course, losing. You have to lose. But the Isles are doing it the right way. The team on the ice has played with guts and spirit for most of the year, considering so many of them wouldn't even get a whiff of the NHL for a contending team. They lose, but they lose close. And now that the Isles' place in the race for the bottom is relatively secure, they're winning just enough to hit the off-season with a kick of confidence. Come November, I'd like to see this on the scoreboard movie screen ... .

"He doesn't know it's a damn show! He think it's a damn fight!"

And, more good news here. Royal blue jerseys again next year, and management is pushing to make them the primary jersey going forward, likely in place for 2010-2011. Win.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


This, "Rangers Gain Draft Pick for Cherepanov's Death" is so macabre and clumsy you almost feel sorry for Rangers fans, who can't possibly support this ugliness.

Almost. Almost. Almost. Almost.

Paging Malcolm Gladwell

Take a few minutes, read "Tough guy loses out on internal battle," in the Calgary Herald.

Lots of talk about fighting in recent months. No problem there. Make it legal for two men (or sometimes more) to punch each other in the face in the context of a game, and it's going to be discussed widely. It should be. They are, after all, punching each other in the face.

I do not support eliminating fighting, although I do support the helmet-on proposition, and increased penalties for the nonsensical staged fights. I've seen those fights from about 10 feet away in the AHL, where the compensation doesn't match up with the commitment and the risk, and it is achingly uncomfortable. Without the proper emotional context, you hear fists thumping against skin and bone in a quiet arena. It feels sleazy.

With that out of the way, I think it's important to give the debate, which is (for the most part) pleasingly nuanced, appropriate context. This particular story in the Calgary Herald is an example of poor context and causal reasoning.

It's easy for journalists to take the inherent drama of a bare-knuckle fight and apply that drama to circumstances outside the rink, without understanding external factors. A guy fights, there must be some emotional toll, and here's the guy who proves it. The subject of this story, Brantt Myhres, was a fighter, and also a drug/booze addict for 15 years.

From the story: "They can sit there all they want and claim that's part of the game," Myhres says in a low voice, barely discernible above the noise of a Calgary coffee shop. "I understand that. I guess, (fighting) half-killed me though, being part of the game. I understand that I had a choice, too, not to play hockey. But when you grow up and you're five years old, and that's the only thing you ever want to do is play in the National Hockey League. It didn't matter what you had to do, you did it."

This is speech shaded by addiction. This is sensitive stuff, because this guy obviously has been through the ringer, but you can't simply draw a line from hockey fighting to addiction that clearly and that simply. A better journalist would tell you he's not drawing that line, that he's simply presenting facts, and you are making the causal link. That's a copout, and it's a fundamental pillar of the business. But Bruce Dowbiggin can't even do that, because he's loaded this story with his own reasoning.

Some samples

"The NHL culture of allowing gave Myhres a life in The Show from 1994 to 2003. Then it almost took his life through drugs and alcohol."

"The collateral damage is written all over Myhres' bio."

"To reinforce his point, Myhres lists the widely disproportionate number of 'knuckle' boys who've ended up with him in rehab or worse: Bob Probert, Chris Simon, Chris Nilan, Brian McGrattan, Darren McCarty and John Kordic are the more public of those who've sought refuge from their job in substance abuse."

And, this is the worst, "He's removed the trigger point for his addiction: hockey."

Bruce Dowbiggin does not know why Brantt Myhres is an addict. Brantt Myhres may never know why he is an addict. The line can't simply be drawn, "hockey fights made a drug/booze addict out of Brantt Myhres, and all of these other fighters." It seems logical being a fighter would add to life's stresses, but to imply any of these addicts would have been substance-free without hockey fighting - which is what is being done, make no mistake - is to make a giant leap in reasoning that can't be made without oodles more information. And even then, the science is so inexact it's difficult to even call it science.

Football lineman and running backs become addicts. Pool players. Lefty pitchers. Point guards. Nurses. Teachers. You know the drill.

I don't like staged fights. And yes, sometimes it really is two grown men pulling at each other's underwear. But there are bigger concerns in life, and a little circus-flavor in your hockey game is an acceptable indulgence. Is there collateral damage? There must be some. But there is collateral damage to everything in life. Where do we start drawing the lines? QB sacks? Hard fouls in basketball? Boxing? MMA? Beanballs? You do the best to control these things. Make them keep their helmets on. Keep the appointments out of the game.

Even Carl Sagan once wrote that we should be forgiven our Monday Night Football and our predilection toward violent sporting confrontations. It's ingrained.

And look, I hope the goon-only player disappears. But while we're sorting this out, and the debate continues, let's not start making shit up.

Monday, March 9, 2009

In exile

My wife is working out in the living room, so I am relegated to the computer. I worked out tonight, too. Three brownies (they're homemade, what the hell ... ), two beers, and a rousing fist pump when Vs. displayed the Rangers falling below the playoff line.

She's doing a little dance workout routine on the TV. It beats the balls off of Dancing with the Stars, and also reminds me, why the hell aren't they selling these

(the outfit, not the girl ...)

in the Isles' team shop?

Guy Carbonneau is out in Montreal. Our friend the Puck Daddy thinks the blame is correctly placed here, writing that the "losses of Mark Streit and Michael Ryder couldn't have made that much of a difference, could they?" A few readers in the comments pointed out quickly and accurately that Mark Streit not only has been good (I'd say really good considering the supporting cast) for the Isles, but that a defenseman who can make the smart breakout pass, handle the puck in space, and work the point with some confidence and sense is highly valuable in the NHL. Yup. Garth Snow +1. is great. Like having another more-than-full-time reporter covering the Isles. But here's something we can do Chris Botta can't: write "fuck." So go read fucking point blank. As if I have to tell you. In what universe would someone find this blog without having first found the other? This one.

Vs. is terrible. Not necessarily the coverage, although people who care about these kinds of things seem to also hate Vs. I don't watch any national studio shows except HNIC about twice a year, so whatever nonsense they're talking about on Vs. is about the same to me as whatever nonsense they're talking about the NHL Network, except there's better hair and better accents on the NHLN. The thing is, Vs. is a shitty, ridiculous network full of shitty, ridiculous shows considering it is supposed to be flagship of the damn league. How in holy hell cannot there not be a nightly highlight show? How is this acceptable? And what the fuck about Saturday night? I thought Vs. was supposed to be showing HNIC? (is it only the NHL Network? If it is, you can't get that in hotel rooms, and that's where I watch hockey.) Seems logical they would, but instead they're riding fucking bulls Saturday nights.

Fine. Do what you fucking want. But do not give them Stanley Cup games. I know, NBC doesn't do shit either. But it's NBC. And although that means a hell of a lot less than it used to, it stills means a great deal for the NHL. Naturally, I have no solution. I despise ESPN. Maybe shift the whole thing to the NHL Network? Maybe make it 200 or 300 percent easier to watch shit online on a good, hi-def feed? I don't know. Now I'm tired.

Last thing: NHL 09 was fixed by a patch about a week ago. It's fantastic. I take back everything I said.