For the rebuilding Islanders, this four-stop Western swing is a how-to and how-not-to go about nurturing your franchise for long-term success.
New York Islanders (12-22-4, 30th) at Phoenix Coyotes (18-15-5, 7th/West)
9 p.m. EST | [some silly dot-com job] Arena | MSG+2 (twice the plus!)
Coyotes blog: Five for Howling
First Stop: Phoenix
Or Glendale, if you must. We've covered these two clubs' business similarities and contrasts before. With an eye toward the Lighthouse Project, Newsday beat writer Greg Logan tours the 'Yotes' Glendale project and likes what he sees.
Back on the ice now: Like the Isles, the Coyotes have been there, done that, in terms of how not to get it done: The Coyotes' earn-your-fortune-at-home-with-this-CD scheme entailed players like Brett Hull, Mike Ricci and Owen Nolan. Safe to say few will ever
want to remember them as Coyotes.
While those moves were partly made with recognition that the Coyotes' market still needs goosing to grab enough converts to make the operation profitable, the club is finally compiling and nurturing a crop of prospects that Isles fans wouldn't mind having: Peter Mueller, Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter and Victor Tikhonov = Not Too Shabby.
If only the business end would follow suit, as 'Yotes CEO Jeff Shumway pleads. [Game odds and ends after the jump.]
On the ice, the Islanders enter 2009 hoping it's a helluva lot better than 2008. New year, but the injuries continue just the same.
Rick DiPietro has at least made this trip (and Yann Danis, at last word, did not). Trent Hunter is still questionable. On the bright side, Frans Nielsen is out West -- what a boost to on-ice and long-term plans if they can get him back for the second half of the season.
Mike Sillinger and His Gaboriky Hip
And now to the saddest tale: Former Coyote (and Wing, and Senator, and Blue, and Panther, and ...) Mike Sillinger is on IR again for his microfracture surgically repaired hip. Botta echoes the sadness everyone's fearing: this is not a good sign for his career. As Lighthouse Hockey noted when Sillinger first came back, a setback like this was almost to be expected -- although the degree of concern sounds like the worst-case scenario I worried about when his rehab was taking so long.
Even when he began his conditioning stint in AHL Bridgeport, Sillinger sounded like a man who knew his body would never be the same, but he was going to give it a go. Maybe there's still life left in this speedster's game, but the sudden end -- if this is indeed the end -- of his body's ability to be a regular contributor is a lesson for all NHLers waffling over retirement: Milk it while you can, because one day the body will tell you when you can't.
You're a class act, Mr. Sillinger. We miss you and wish you another go at this silly game.