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.
After my freshman year of college my parents, just like everyone else’s, were on my case about getting a part-time summer job to get me out of the house. Of course I was looking around for jobs but I couldn’t find much, my sister on the other hand had been working for the Islanders in Game Ops and her boss at the time told her that he had an opening to be one of the Sparky the Dragons.
Say what you want about being a mascot, but it was so much fun and because I took that job that summer it enabled me to get the internship in Bridgeport and through these two experiences I have had to honor to meet many players, most who are great guys but some stand out more than others.
Here is my list of the top five players that were not only good hockey players but, they are guys that you want to root for.
What is going on with the Islanders and their prospects? Rhett Rakhshani has signed a one-year deal with HV71 in Sweden, Justin DiBenedetto is on his way to Austria and Mark Katic is going to Germany. Granted Trevor Gillies also signed to play in Russia but he was never going to see the NHL again and I think we can all agree on that. What does this mean for the players and the Islanders as an organization?
At the end of the season in 2006 or 07, Jeremy Colliton cleaned out his locker and headed home. He had a long drive ahead going from Bridgeport, CT to Blackie, AB. Twitter was not created until March of ’06 and didn’t launch until that July but Facebook was available and Jeremy used it to chronicle his long drive home. His periodic status updates about which George Strait song he was listening to, or how he could not wait for the taste of Canadian beef, eased the pain that I and other hockey fans experience when the season ends. Today it’s Twitter that provides that catharsis.
Several of this years’ Sound Tigers club use twitter and most posted something about their journey. It was obvious from reading each of them that, though sad to leave, they were happy to be home. Kevin Poulin said he was glad to have some ‘home cooking’ and wished teammates Rhett Rakhshani (driving solo to California) and David Ullstrom (flying home to Sweden) well. Ullstrom was in touch with both Casey Cizikas and Trevor Frischmon about having them come to visit him over the summer. John Persson (remember this kids’ name) also from Sweden did not return home. He instead returned to his Canadian billet family in Red Deer, Alberta where he has the most adorable five(?) year-old blonde alarm clock.
Some twenty-five years before the Bridgeport Sound Tigers became a team I, and many others enjoyed the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is one memorable scene in that movie that represents this years’ team showing their heart and determination to win.
In the film, King Arthur (Jack Capuano) is travelling through a forest when he enters a clearing and observes a fight taking place between a Black Knight (The Sound Tigers) and a Green Knight (insert team) by a bridge over a small stream. Arthur congratulates the Black Knight for his victory and offers him a place at Arthur's round table ,but the Black Knight only stands still, holding his sword, and makes no response until Arthur moves to cross the bridge. The Black Knight then refuses to stand aside. Reluctantly, Arthur fights the Black Knight and, after a short battle, the Knight's left arm (David Ullstrom) is severed.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have just completed their worst weekend of the year. Playing the second of two consecutive three (games) in three (nights) series, they were only able to capture 5 of the 6 points available. The one point missed occurred on Friday night in a game won by the Springfield Falcons in the 7th round of a shoot-out.
The team returned home to the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday for the 2nd game of the 3 in 3 weekend and through 15 minutes of the second period looked nothing like themselves. Poulin in goal was not having his best night. Snipers Ullstrom and Cizikas were playing in the National League and Rhett Rakhshani was still out injured. Tomas Marcinko was also unavailable serving the 2nd game of his 3 game suspension and the team was losing 0-3 with five minutes left in the second period. But there are four lines in hockey and winning teams get production from all four.
I find myself fast approaching the age of maturity; in June I will turn 65. I am now paying the penalties of a youth well spent. Many adults bemoan the fact that ‘kids today’ spend all their time indoors playing games on the computer or x-box rather than outdoors. Had those toys been available when I was young I am certain I’d have done the same. They weren’t so I was always outside. I was fortunate to have a small ‘park’, complete with a pond for skating at the end of my street. My mom and dad also blessed me with six younger sisters. I was never at home.
Being a fair-skinned, freckle-faced kid with family roots in County Cork, Ireland, I developed skin cancer as a result of all that time spent outdoors. It is typical of we Irish to ignore a problem till it goes away. This one did not so I spent a few hours in surgery at Yale- New Haven Hospital having it corrected on Wednesday. When I went to work the next day I looked every bit as messed up as ‘The Joker” before he took his revenge on Gotham.
Moustache (which I had cultivated since 1974) gone, face swollen and distorted, a half grin, half sneer replaced my smile and a mound of gauze and tape adorned my left cheek. That’s what Trevor Gillies saw when he walked up and said “Hey, Big- Guy, get cut?”
It is difficult to explain how after a loss I was so upbeat leaving the arena. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers needed a win to match the franchise record 9 game win streak set in February 2002 and matched in November 2003. We lost. It was not because we had taken a very good St. Johns Icecaps team (with a ridiculous 15-2-2-1 road record) to a shoot out. We lost. It was not because we had played 60 minutes of solid hockey, because we didn’t. And we lost. It was all about the fan experience at The Webster Bank Arena.
"We saw it last year, I saw it. I saw the energy and the desperation in our game last year. The second half, we had the best record in the National Hockey League after the All-Star break. We were physical. We were tough to play against."
-Islanders head coach Jack Capuano after the New York Islanders 6-0 loss Saturday night to the Boston Bruins.
Ask the Boston Bruins and Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburgh...