They have to look at the groin and hip injuries, and that's been part of their offseason re-evaluation. They have a conditioning program targeted at strengthening those areas. They also have to tailor the offseason preparation to be ready to skate when they get to camp because Scott Gordon runs a different style of camp in which they focus on system work, which involves a lot of stops and starts, rather than playing games every day as in the past.
>>Newsday's Greg Logan, back in his May 19 chat
We're on Year Three of an injury scourge for the Islanders, which is both a nice excuse for hard times and a sporadic cause for rabid fan calls of "Fire the trainer!" or "Stone the doctor!" and such. [Note: The table linked above had projected figures as of March. The Isles finished 2008-09 with 583 man-games lost, by most reports.]
The Islanders, for their part, made the fan perception side of this worse last year by dickering around with Rick DiPietro's rehab (or rather, dickering with the public communication of its progress, thus building reason for distrust like some such Bettman statement), beginning with 2008 summer's initial surgery and continuing into the New Year and this Spring, when they finally shut DiPietro down. The club got much better at communicating injuries since then, but the damage is still there.
But that's behind us. Or at least a tired and beaten issue, until we see how DiPietro returns from his latest rehab. [This is the part where you say, "IF he returns..."] For the Islanders, hope of an improvement in the standings this year rests nearly as much on a change in their injury luck as it does on the emergence of John Tavares Superstar.
Logan rightly pointed out that a healthy (ha) portion of last season's dynasty-sized injury list was due to broken bones (Trent Hunter, Andy Sutton, Andy Hilbert, my other brother Andy) or impact injuries to joints (Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Frans Nielsen) ... obviously I can't list everyone or I'd literally list the entire roster.
About mid-season, Islesblogger Mike also went into this, explaining how those impact injuries tell him the Islanders' scourge is not due to ice conditions.
Still, the matter of reducing groin and hip injuries is a lingering issue that is, as Logan noted back in May, amplified by the demanding style and training camp Scott Gordon had implemented. An essential skater like Doug Weight missed time from a groin injury last year, while Josh Bailey's injury -- later learned to be a hip flexor -- happened during the stop-and-start-heavy training camp and caused him to miss time well into the second month of the season.
One thing about groin and hip injuries: It's an issue throughout the league, which brings out any number of theories, from the perennial issue of ice conditions in multi-use arenas to, wouldn't you know, modern skates (a theory vehemently disputed by OfficialsOutlook Doug in this FanPost).
Unfortunately, this is one of those things that can have so many contributors, it's nearly impossible to assess all the variables in a reliable way. You could imagine a controlled medical study, sure -- but you'd end up dealing with so many changing variables which a team chasing wins can't guarantee and a player living his life won't keep (players get traded, players eat poorly after a long night of NHL10, coaches change, flights get delayed, players neglect one area while rehabbing another injury, coaches double-shift, players encounter snowblowers, etc.).
As every reasonable doctor knows and every patient's family member would be wise to remember, medicine -- despite its advances -- is still an inexact science. Bodies decline and die. Sometimes without even lifting the Cup, sadly.
Still, a club can make adjustments and practice preventative care. One expression of that was supposed to be changes to the offseason conditioning -- remember that Gordon wasn't hired last summer until offseason conditioning was nearly finished. Another expression of prevention was supposed to be adjustments to Gordon's training camp.
Will it work? We'll never know for sure, but if the Islanders avoid being near the top in man-games lost to injury, we'll at least rest assured that it didn't hurt.
Of course, you know what might complicates matters? Spending most of training camp hopping around Western Canada, Kansas City, and then finally back East, forcing Gordon to modify the camp plan further. Oh, the price of generating some cash.