Lost in the flurry of what fans are referring affectionately as "Lubo Gate", the Islanders became a whole lot tougher in the off season. They did this by signing a man who has no problem dropping the gloves in defense of his teammates.
Matt Carkner quietly signed a three year deal worth $4.5 million dollars. Carkner is not what you would call an offensive defenseman but he does come with a grittiness that leaves a mark.
Just ask the players that had to be scraped off of the boards from his bone crunching hits.
In his unofficial initiation to Islanders fans' hearts, he became public enemy number one during the Senators' playoff series where they pushed the Rangers to the limit. Who can forget his assault on Brian Boyle which earned him a one game suspension?
Let us go back to the 2012 NHL Draft. The Islanders fan base buzzed when news spread that you were traded to solidify a blue line that could benefit from your experience and impressive play.
A lot of fans moved to YouTube to find out more about a player that spent his whole career in the Western Conference. They didn't know much more than how cool your last name would look on an Islanders sweater. (Photo Credit: Daralee's Web World Photos)
It was hard for the fans to hide their excitement when they saw this addition that could help immediately. It was a breath of fresh air that someone added to the roster could help right away. Not in 2 years. Not in 1 year. But now. Garth Snow had done a great job in executing this trade.
That ended almost immediately when you filed a grievance with the NHL, trying to void the trade. This wasn't a great way to endear yourself to a fan base. They were willing to put that aside once the case was settled and the trade was indeed valid.
There was a sense that you did not want to be in Uniondale. You are not alone in this. You are not the first player, nor will you be the last player to claw in the doorway on the way to Long Island. But the actions of your peers do not excuse your behavior.
Hockey is back and everything is right in the world of the NHL. Well, sort of. There are some sour faces on fans that feel betrayed by the shield. But pouty, angered people will quickly turn that frown upside down. Fans will forgive as soon as the first puck drops on January 19th. Who can hold a grudge with the game we all love so dearly?
As the new season rapidly approaches, there are some immediate questions that need to be tended to.
Who will the shortened season favor: the veteran teams or the young guns?
How will teams deal with the immediate pressure of each game meaning more than usual?
The NHL is still in the midst of a lockout due to a CBA dispute between the NHL and the NHLPA. There have been rumors that a season could start around the beginning of December, TCL's Shane Blackburn provides a preview of the Eastern Conference should the lockout end. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)