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LHinks: Ode to readers; NHLPA rep reactions; Coyote D-Day

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Are you sitting down? Before the morning dirt, I wanted to take a moment to salute you, the reader. It's been a long summer, but you can smell training camp around the corner. To those of you who joined up or stuck with us during this site's first offseason: Thanks, sincerely. Whether you're lurking but letting me know by your visit (or over Twitter) that this is worthwhile, or commenting frequently to stir conversation and get me to open my perceptions, I very, very much appreciate it. I appreciate that everyone's been thought-provoking and cool, too. [insert troll comment: "u suk, lolz"]

Everyone who runs a blog has their own intentions and aspirations; I pretty much just love hockey, love the Islanders, and love to banter about it without launching flame wars. The SBN platform drew me in. Participants like you make me stay. Sometimes I don't do a good job of acknowledging that. But that's why this little cyber-corner is here.

As training camp nears, daily posts will naturally be more lineup/game oriented. If you haven't visited an SBN site during a game, the real-time comment platform really shines (if you can handle being at a keyboard/pecking at your phone in the middle of a game). Beyond that, though, myself, Mike and Doug will do our best to keep this place humming, encourage and promote reader FanPosts, and generally make this site worth a moment of your time.

Suggestions or requests? Let me know here or through my email (link at the bottom of every page). As the season nears, we'll get more people returning from the woodwork, so forgive me if I repeat a few things -- and do your best to make them feel welcome while also keeping up the tone you've set. (Welcome, lurkers!)

A few NHLPA and Islanders links, plus a Balsillie rant, after the jump:

Paul Kelly firing: The most extensive NHLPA player rep reaction yet, from Minnesota's Nick Schultz. Wish I could say it made me feel better. [Star-Trib/Russo's Rants] ... Kelly reacts: Predictably, with reason and restraint while it sinks in [Globe & Mail] ... Canucks players Alex Burrows and Ryan Johnson tiptoe the party line while waiting for word from team rep Willie Mitchell [Vancouver Sun] ... I FanShot'd this yesterday, but Brendan Shanahan sounded ... well, his words were "surprised" and "shocked." [Star-Ledger] ... Retired NHLer calls Kelly's firing a product of "paranoia" [CBC] Oh, and the accountant has quit the union, too. My motto in life is: If you're accountant asks uncomfortable questions, just fire him and hire a new one. (Worked for Enron and Arthur Anderson, right?) Jonathan at Copper N Blue has a theory on events.

Today is D-Day in Phoenix. That Ice Edge bidder group has reserved five Coyote dates in Saskatoon, training camp home of your New York Islanders. How do you feel about the whole mess? James Mirtle dinged Greg Wyshynski yesterday as part of saying the whole thing turns on the NHL's unwillingness to go to Hamilton. Lot of comments for fodder in that post.

Pardon me while I opine in the middle of this link dump:

I agree it's in part about Southern Ontario and the league's fear of battling with the Leafs -- but it's also about the league choosing its own destiny, at its own pace, with its own partners. Balsillie burned his bridge, period. He went about things one way in Pittsburgh and Nashville, then lost. Whether I like it or not, I can't fault the league for wanting to be patient and trying to carry out its "broad footprint" expansion plan as far as it is willing to pay to carry it. As an NHL fan via my dad, I'm a result of the 1967 expansion, which was also derided at the time but later seen to have expanded the league's appeal.

Balsillie could have played nice and been a member, but he didn't want to wait and probably didn't want to tuck his shirt in -- and certainly didn't want to wait until the league was ready to enter Southern Ontario/challenge its own member, the Leafs.

If not for this bankruptcy, the league would have still had to step in and save the Coyotes, possibly moving them. Balsillie simply rushed that process and further ticked the league off. Again. When there are only 30 teams, no one has a "right" to a team just because he has the desire and the capital; you have to wait for the right situation, because a league by its very nature has limited opportunities for membership. That's part of the weird dynamic sports leagues exist in. (You can go all antitrust argument if you want, but as a fan and consumer, I'm not buying a league where any random tool can come in and take a team against the wishes of the very league upon whom that team's existence depends.)

In this case, 20 years ago when a national TV deal was all the rage, the league had every incentive to go expanding geographically before battling one of its own members for Ontario turf. That that plan hasn't panned out as dreamed -- no thanks to the weasel owners the league routinely embraces -- doesn't change that it was defensible conventional wisdom at the time, and still may yet pan out if anyone bothers to think long-term. I'm not sure when the league will be open to challenging MLSE and opening up a second franchise in the region, but I think it's closer than it was two decades ago. Maybe we'll at least have Balsillie to thank for that.

End of tangent. (Sorry.)

  • But on that note, Newsday's Brooks Simpson worries what a Balsillie win would mean for the Islanders.
  • Relocating the Coyotes for this season would subtract 1500 miles from the Islanders' travel ... and add 9600 to Anaheim's [On the Forecheck]
  • Chris(topher) Botta does a "nice story" on Chris Higgins visiting a hospital -- I couldn't help picture the cancer ward visit from "Rescue Me," with a tribute to the Islanders of yore creating NHL islanders of today. [AOL Fanhouse]
  • I don't know why Rob Schremp fascinates me. Maybe since I knew from Al Arbour what an NHL coach expects, I'm intrigued by guys with talent who don't pick up on the need to Sutter-ize your game a bit to make it in the NHL. [Copper N Blue on Schremp's finest season] [Lowetide on his hope]
  • If you're a fantasy nut, you've probably already seen Puck Daddy's top 100 players.
  • Are you affected by the DirecTV-Versus spat? Good news for Islanders fans is, we're only on Vs. twice, anyway, and the spat will be over by then. [Multichannel News] (Believe it or not, in a prior job I actually had to read Multichannel News religiously.)
  • A collegial bloggy hello to Islanders Hockey Blog (how was that domain not taken?), which moves to the Bloguin network after existing as Islanders Crazy last year.

I know I promised Frans Nielsen's review/preview yesterday -- but that was before a bunch of new posts came up. So look for it later today.