First, some mild palace intrigue: After the home loss to the Rangers dropped the Islanders to 2-6 and ignited talk of the long, long road ahead to remold the franchise, captains Bill "McNulty" Guerin, Doug Weight, and Richard Park requested a meeting with coach Scott Gordon. From the sounds of it, it's all positive communication and such; not a hint of revolt or "This is the N-H-L! We get mints on our pillows!" involved.
Still, something to keep an eye on. It's worth echoing that former company man Chris Botta -- who's had to sugarcoat the apparent machinations of an overmatched Islanders coach or two -- is impressed with Gordon's handling of things so far.
Meanwhile, some reassignments on the Island and around the league that add to the grossly premature 2008 Draft report card debate, after the jump:
Jack Hillen, the puck-moving defenseman the Islanders signed out of college at the end of last season, has been sent to AHL Bridgeport. Hillen showed promise both this preseason and in his baptism-by-fire debut in a Rangers home-and-home to end last season -- enough for Isles fans to think seeing him on Long Island again would be a good thing. But he was really only with the big club because of injuries (Andy Sutton is due back this week). Good that he should go down to the AHL for more minutes and honing of his pro game.
Hillen might not have seen any NHL time this season if the Isles had not traded down in the draft and instead did what many fans wanted: Draft Luke Schenn. In case you've been living under a rock (Hey, it happens. Everyone needs "me" time), Schenn recently got the ol' "you can get a place" nod from the Maple Leafs: He's impressed fans and coaches, so he'll will stay with the big club instead of return to juniors. And *poof* goes a year of his cost-controlled rights -- just one angle in the debate on this move that they're having over at Pension Plan Puppets.
The other kid many Draft Day fans wished the Isles would have taken, Nikita Filatov, has just been sent back to AHL Syracuse by Columbus. He scored in his first game, but nothing in three games since (He's been in the lineup sparingly). Like Hillen -- this comparison shall never happen again -- Filatov was up more because of injuries and depth than because of readiness. Hard to imagine Ken Hitchcock wanting an 18-year-old Russian talent learning on the his job.
And what of the kid the Islanders did draft in the first round, at #9? Though Josh Bailey made the opening roster, he's still out with an injury and yet to see NHL action. Whenever he's deemed ready, it will be interesting to see what they do. After so much time off, it's hard to picture throwing him into the fire here rather than letting him go back to lead his junior team one more time. But this is a rebuilding year -- shhhh! Don't tell the captains -- so anything can happen.