The talk amongst fans all last season was, "This team needs toughness." And indeed, far from embodying Zenon Konopka's "doormat-no-longer" declaration during the 2010-2011 season, the Islanders seemed to take a step back from that mentality this past year.
...What changes this year? Well, Garth Snow must have realized that this squad just does better when their best players aren't being knocked all over the ice, and signed up some tough customers to try and change the doormat-once-more mentality.
The New York Islanders were very active yesterday, acquiring three new players on the open market on the first day of NHL Free Agency. Forward Brad Boyes was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal and was soon followed by defenseman Matt Carkner's three-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Not long after these signings, former Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau inked a four-year, $16 million deal with the Colorado Avalance. Although many on twitter felt that the Isles could have easily afforded Parenteau's new contract, it still made plenty of sense to let him go. Four years for a 29 year old hockey player that only had one season worthy of top line honors and only two full seasons of NHL experience is a lot to commit too. In addition, Matt Moulson presently makes less per year than Parenteau's new contract. Moulson has been a consistent thirty goal scorer since joining the Islanders and has maintained chemistry with his long-time buddy, John Tavares. GM Garth Snow must have seen the risks in possibly off-setting the locker room if he showed that he felt Parenteau was more deserving a higher salary to go along with the other risk factors involved in that contract. With that being said, I wish Parenteau the best of luck and will look forward to seeing him return to Coliseum ice.
But in every difficulty lies an opportunity, and that is what Brad Boyes has been given.
The NHL fined the Isles last year $100,000 for the brawl game vs. the Pens, but the Pens did not get fined anything despite a player leaving the bench as a sixth skater to join a fight on the ice - which, by the way, means the head coach should be suspended for one game - he wasn't. But owner Mario Lemieux stated that the NHL didn't do enough to punish the Isles for that disgrace of a game.
Keep in mind that Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies received suspensions. They rightfully deserved them, and Godard got the 10 games required for leaving the bench, but the Penguins didn't receive any other suspensions or fines of any kind.
Lemieux, despite the one-sided disciplinary action, still felt that the league didn't do enough.