It's been a strange offseason for the New York Islanders and their diehard fans.
On one hand, Aug. 1 delivered another political slap in the face from the land they call home -- which followed the free agency rejection Christian Ehrhoff delivered a month earlier.
On the other hand, three promising young forwards committed to the cause: Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares all signed long-term deals, sandwiched around another promising draft haul that has fans excited for more prospects who could one day be like them.
Now that training camp has launched with what Matt Moulson called his "toughest in six years," that promise meets the usual day-to-day angst that results when bodies are thrown into the fire: Who's going to make it? Who's still hurt? Who isn't good enough? Are there enough blueline bodies to go around?Here are some of those burning topics from the first days of camp, and the stories and LHH discussions around them:
Some Official Site Posts:
- On Travis Hamonic and Micheal Haley, Bridgeport callups from last year determined to stick.
- Have we mentioned the Islanders have a lot of goalies?
- You know, a lot of goalies means many masks. Discuss their designs here.
- Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau are some furry beasts.
News and LHH Discussion/Reaction:
- Season Previews: TSN's Scott Cullen does his fantasy version (LHH discussion here); Puck Daddy does theirs here. Which one's better?
- Blog Boxer Eyes on Isles does their preview.
- Okay, now you all leave your predictions for 2011-12 [FanPost].
- Our own Francesca delivers a report on Nino Niederreiter's summer as seen through the Swiss media [FanPost].
- Kyle Okposo is back, but don't call it a comeback -- he's been here before [Newsday].
- The Islanders will need a fast start to make a statement of earnest about the year. How do they do it? [FanPost]
- Wait, if they have a fast start, how on earth will they be able to play "loose" and pressure-free down the stretch like every outsider claimed last year? [Keith's weekend post]
- OMG. What do these new line combos mean? FanShot discussion here.
- The Isles are taking it easy with the still-rehabbing Andrew MacDonald. Wait, how vulnerable is our defense? [FanShot]
- And how much could Steve Staios help? [My weekend post]
- New roster heights and weights. Wait, who grew what and who lost how much where now? [FanShot]
- But look at all these teenagers! [Post on Strome and Niederreiter]
- So Mark Katic's possibly done for the year. A rut in the ice tripped him up. Blame Coliseum ice again? [FanShot]
- Isles of Yesteryear: Steve Webb and Pat LaFontaine, biking far for a cause.
- Isles of Recent Year: Good ol' Freddy Meyer IV can still deliver "enorma" hits.
Isles of last year: Radek Martinek discusses the death of Josef Vasicek. "Hardest 48 hours" of ol' Radek's life.
Finally, here are the lines and groups for today's two skates according to the official site. We already have a post debating training camp lines (so please don't start another FanPost on it -- we're teeming with new posts along the right side), but have at them again if you need to here.
Group A (morning skate)
Group B (mid-day skate)
Hockey's back, wouldn't you say? Honk your horns and chew your fingernails accordingly.