Pardon me this bit of background: Six years ago, this '94 strike-deceased former baseball fan was coaxed back into following that sport by a well-written blog. A year later, that blog moved to a startup network called SB Nation. Upon seeing SBN's interactive tools combined with a writer I liked, I started to think, "What if they had this for the Islanders?"
But in U.S. media, hockey comes last, so I didn't pay that idea much mind until James Mirtle had his old site and occasionally linked to Pension Plan Puppets, which was ... "wait a minute--SBN has hockey now!" I realized. I didn't so much want to blog about hockey as I wanted an SBN site on the Isles, but I started to think: "If you want it, you might have to do it yourself." I did a trial year on a now-defunct blog network (which stupidly deleted its archives). That same year, then-Islanders PR head Chris Botta conceived of the Islanders BlogBox, one of just a couple of NHL teams willing to explore this new realm.
Writing about the Isles helped me process my thoughts on the team, and I loved the way it brought me closer to other fans -- like a virtual sports bar that's always showing Islanders games. I jumped to SBN but didn't think about the BlogBox because I'm about 1,000 miles and 7 NHL arenas (depending on your route) from the Coliseum locker room.
This season, however, thanks to friendly support and your readership, I'm happy to share I'm "in" the revamped BlogBox, which features several good writers in this evolving medium. That should open up more coverage opportunities for this site (when I'm not being lazy). But I wanted to let you know it doesn't change the approach here: This place is designed and maintained for people who love hockey, love the Islanders and want to discuss it -- good times and bad -- in a thoughtful way with a dose of humor. Hockey, like all sports (except golf, which appears to be a vehicle for self-loathing), is supposed to be fun. That's the goal here.
Thanks to everyone for your participation and help. A bunch of camp links and video after the jump.
(Sorry for all that "me" talk. Like traffic figures for this Web site, I promise to only do that about once a year. But I wanted y'all to know what I'm about here, lest we ever take ourselves too seriously.)
- A friend's favorite narcissist party line: "But enough about me, now you talk about me." I was asked for some input on the Isles at Fantasy Hockey Scouts. You can tell by my answers that I deserve to manage a fantasy team as much as Omar Minaya deserves to...uh...manage a Little League squad?
NEW: The Post's Brett Cyrgalis had a lot from Gordon on the need to improve the powerplay, and also probed him on what the goalie rotation would be like. The official NYI site also has a write-up on the special teams scrimmage.
- Looks like Newsday's Katie Strang was the only external source at the special teams' scrimmage last night, so beyond the next link, you can read some play-by-play on her Twitter stream. Related in Newsday [$5 please]: Strang on James Wisniewski's addition to the powerplay. We're all counting on an improved powerplay this year, right?
Michael Fornabaio at the Conn. Post with some interesting thoughts from Jack Capuano on the make-up of their team, the focus, and his pride in sending NHL-ready guys up to help the big club. If Capuano had better rosters and (presumably) better records, he'd be one of those "hot" candidates for an NHL job, dontcha think? (That reminds me: Our Greek-speaking buddy David Hanssen spoke with Capuano over the summer about the importance of Mark Wotton to the Isles' young prospects.)
- The de Haan-less Generals won their OHL opener but probably won't name a captain until they know if our future #3 is coming back for a final year of juniors. [DurhamRegion]
- We fretted this summer about the 50-contract maximum and whether talented but undersized (sound familiar?) 2008 pick Jared Spurgeon would be signed. Turns out no, but he impressed at Wild camp and earned a contract. Botta points out how this reflects well on the Islanders '08 draft class -- the first in Garth Snow's rebuild, in my book. Fornabaio echoes that with a link to his coverage from that day.
Injury updates: I harp a lot on how injuries can change everything for a team, even though in the locker room mentality they're "no excuse." (The Germans probably had to tell themselves the same about the Russian winter.) So imagine a hit like Matt Stajan dislocating his shoulder for the Flames. For the Isles, no harm yet -- no games yet -- but P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen are both nursing hip issues. [Strang Tweet]. I still really think any roster surprises will be enabled through injury; it's that time of year. (Did you know Albert Pujols made his first MLB roster only because Bobby Bonilla was injured? It's true.)
- Garth & the Bloggers: Tony at Hockey Independent has a partial transcript of their conversation with Snow... 7th Woman has her version, with some insight on Blake Kessel's development...Ken at Okposo Net has his coverage, with a Kirill bent. And on that note, Eyes on the Isles argues that Kirill should be sent back to juniors now. ... NYIFYI on Kirill, Nino and extending Scott Gordon.
- God love Media Day: Some coverage from Hicksville Illustrated. From the Long Island Herald, too.
- Some gambling site predicts the Isles season.
- Weight-gainers (a strictly Doug-pun-free zone): The official training camp site shares who gained the most weight since last year, as further discussed in OzzyFan's FanPost.
- Also at the official if you missed it, a lot of quotes from Gordon on Josh Bailey's increased strength and the growth of his game. Note the references to his move to the wing, and the fact he's been on the wing during camp thus far.
A Couple of the Better Videos
Travis Hamonic on his approach, being a pro, how to make the team:
Nino Niederreiter (I confess, I dig hearing a German accent talk hockey) says he's getting more comfortable with the Gordon system::
Parting thought: "They can't do that to our pledges. Only WE can do that to our pledges."